I know many people who grew up without either their father or mother in their lives. Childhood loss such as the death of a parent or divorce can result in inadequate physical or emotional care. I learned that these early-childhood experiences can lead to a fear of being abandoned by the significant other in one’s adult life. And abandonment trauma may include mood symptoms such as debilitating anxiety and chronic feeling of insecurity.
Because I tend to think in literal terms, I failed to see that my alcoholic father and ACOA mother provided very little emotional support. In my household there was no room for expressing sadness or disappointment. It was looked on as weakness; you had to buck up and be strong. My father was very self-absorbed. He was there – yes, but he only concerned himself with what he wanted or needed. He made sure he always had his liquor and cigarettes. Don’t get me wrong now – he took care of the family in terms of paying the mortgage, utilities and buying the food – but there was little emotional support or interest in what we as children were interested in.
This can make a child overly sensitive to any perceived distancing by her loved ones. I realize as an adult I have been in relationships that I felt I had to hold onto when the other person seemed like they were becoming disinterested or distant. I suffered from depression, anxiety, and compulsions when a relationship ended. I realized that I too suffer with abandonment issues even though I grew up with both parents in the household.
In overcoming my abandonment issues I am learning to first remember that I am not alone; to acknowledge the depth of my hurt, identify my symptoms, and take action. Some actions I take include: accepting this fear as a part of being human, and giving myself unconditional self-love and compassion rather than judge myself as “weak.”
Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.