The strongest and earliest bonds we enjoy in this lifetime form within our families. When we experience the pain of abandonment within this primary circle of trust, it cuts to our core. Abandonment issues within the family can take many forms–from absenteeism to abuse. The common thread is a deep sense of rejection and loneliness that can lead to feelings of anxiety, longing, helplessness and alienation.
Types of Abandonment Within the Family
Family abandonment often takes place during childhood, but we can experience the loss and pain of abandonment at any age. As we mature, unresolved abandonment can lead to serious issues, such as relationship problems, fear of intimacy, or even psychological conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Whatever the result, family abandonment terrorizes us, convincing us that anyone can leave without explanation or warning.
- Physical Abandonment
We experience physical abandonment whenever family members literally disappear. Sometimes, that can be due to a complicated divorce, or situations where one parent or partner simply “walks out” on the family. This can be especially traumatic when the abandoned person depends on a family member for care,as with children, the elderly, or the disabled. Other times,death itself can create the physical and permanent state of abandonment, as we are left to tend to our own emotional and physical needs. Some children experience the pain of abandonment when parents become incarcerated. For others, abandonment happens literally and at a young age, when parents must release their children for adoption or foster care.
- Psychological Abandonment
While all forms of abandonment have profound mental effects, some forms are psychological in nature. Psychological abandonment within the family can occur when a parent or sibling decides to sever all relationship suddenly. Psychological abandonment can also occur when a parent or partner ignores key responsibilities, through child neglect or infidelity. On a more nuanced level, psychological abandonment can also occur when family members treat each other with silence, apathy, or the coldness. Loved ones experience the quiet pain of dealing with emotionally unavailable relatives, or deep psychological rejection communicated with physical, sexual or verbal abuse. Children of alcohol or drug dependent individuals can even experience an unintended sense of abandonment, as dependency prevents parents from being emotionally present.