If anybody should be afraid of abandonment it would be me. I was raised in a family that was emotionally detached and had very little emotional connection. I felt like my parents weren’t there for me and they weren’t. My dad worked 3 jobs sometimes and my mom was busy managing beauty salons. I admired them greatly, but I felt abandoned early on to be raised by unhealthy siblings.
Looking back, I see a pattern of trauma over feelings of abandonment. Even going back to when I ran for student body president at Baylor University. I lost the election by about 60 votes, but it felt like the whole school had abandoned me. What actually happened, was that defeat tapped into those old feelings of not being considered, not being heard or understood.
You may feel that way. There may be some past pain and it’s affecting everything that you do today. You haven’t overcome them or worked through it. Or you even set yourself up for failure because of them. It’s important that anyone struggling with abandonment looks at their childhood. Just like I had to realize that my parents weren’t abandoning me. They just didn’t have the skills to do what I needed because their parents never taught them.
Recently I was talking to one of my colleagues at New Life about the concept that when someone gives up a child for adoption they’re really not abandoning that person. They don’t even know who that child is. In fact, that child hasn’t become the person they are going to be. I have an adopted daughter who has never obsessed over her birth parents or needed to know them. I think she understood that her biological parents didn’t reject her. They didn’t know what a fantastic person she was going to be. It wasn’t personal. As teenagers, they just rejected the concept of caring for a baby. And, of course, I’m very grateful for that.
There are, of course, some people who have been outright rejected and abandoned as adults. They come to believe that they’re inferior, damaged goods. But in reality it’s not that they are inferior, they’re just an inferior people picker. The people they choose have issues within them that have never been resolved, and they become the latest victims of that person’s brokenness.
If in your childhood you had someone condemning you for your mistakes instead of helping you see that all people make mistakes, then your self-esteem may be so low that you choose people who have more problems than you do. Because you don’t feel good about yourself and don’t sense God’s love for you, you get into all sorts of horrible and damaging relationships. Or you may mess up some really good relationships because you’re unwilling to trust. If the abandonment that occurred earlier in your life isn’t resolved and those feelings fully grieved, then you’re going to miss the opportunity to have good, fulfilling relationships.
I’ve met people who make a vow after they’ve been abandoned that they’ll never again get close to the opposite sex, or they conclude that anyone of the opposite sex will leave them. So they feel like it doesn’t matter who they’re with. They want to be in control of the relationship to avoid ever being hurt again. It is so hard to live expecting to be hurt and to be constantly on alert to protect ourselves. Life is so much better when it’s not about me and my hurts anymore, and when I’m on mission for God. When my focus is on what I can give to other people and how I can use my struggle to help other people, life can be much