I recently shared with my clients that I will be transitioning into the next phase of my career which entails a TV show, a documentary, and a book tour for Healing Our Bloodlines. I feel a calling to teach about the power of generational healing, which the work with my clients has inspired. This career change meant that my availability as a practitioner would change in a way that would impact their care. Because I know the deep effect that feelings of abandonment can have, I gave my clients a 1 year notice of the change. Advanced notice helps us to make mental preparations for the future, however feelings of abandonment can still be triggered. Even happy occasions, such as graduations and moving away to attend college, can bring up feelings around separation.
The triggering of abandonment is one of the most common issues among my clients. It begs the question, how do we heal wounds of abandonment?
At the core of abandonment wounds is the fear of being alone. This fear makes us worry about who will take care of us if we are sick or have a financial hardship. We ask ourselves, “Who will hold me? Who will protect me? Who will be there?” Every human being has the potential for feeling this fear of being alone. But this fear seems to be strongest in people who were neglected by, or separated from, their caretakers early on in their childhoods. Being adopted into a new family as a baby or child, no matter how loving the adopted family may be, can have a profound impact on a child. Losing a family member to unexpected death can also leave a scar that makes life feel scarier. Feelings of abandonment can also arise from more subtle forms of separation, like emotional abandonment by a parent who works so many hours that the child hardly sees them. Even if you grew up with a mother and a father, if their attention is always going to other areas of their lives, it’s possible to feel neglected because they didn’t give you the protection, validation, and nurture that you needed. You may reside physically in the same home, but without them being emotionally present, an elusive separation happens without necessarily being talked about.
While you can’t directly change the behaviors of your family members, you can begin to heal your abandonment by valuing self-care. The clients who have made the most significant strides in healing their wounds of abandonment have all practiced taking care of themselves emotionally. In these cases, our work together was like a training session on how to be present with themselves after the session was over. One of the great distinctions between a child and an emotionally mature adult is the ability to be present with their emotions. A child blames others for how they feel and expresses their emotions in a way that pleads to be validated by an outside person. Adults can behave the same way if they never learned how to take care of their own emotional needs. However, a mature adult who is actively evolving in their healing process will have enough self-awareness to breathe through their emotions and expression self-love to themselves after the emotional storm has passed.
A recipe for healing abandonment emerged from hardworking clients. By being present with the fear of being alone, then verbally affirming love for yourself, you end the pattern of abandonment. You see, it’s possible to repeat the cycle of abandonment by abandoning yourself during an emotionally painful moment. When your fears get triggered by another person, you have a choice to either be with yourself by feeling your emotions or leave yourself emotionally in your time of need. Leaving yourself emotionally means escaping into some activity, even into addictive behaviors, so that you don’t have to feel your emotions. Blaming other people for how you feel in effect is a form of disowning your emotions. We do this when the emotions have become so distressing that we no longer want to feel. But it’s also a sign of inconsistency in self-care, because the more you practice being present with yourself, the greater your concentration becomes in those moments when fear arises.
The cure for abandonment is self-presence. Being present with yourself allows the old feelings of abandonment to be released from your body. This is an act of self-love. It requires enduring the uncomfortable catharsis of fear being released, however the reward is a deeper internal connection with yourself. Once the waves of fear pass, and they always pass when you are fully present with yourself long enough, you feel more grounded and calm. See these triggered fears as a chance to practice self-presence. Feel the warmth in your chest spreading ease throughout your entire body. Watch how your thoughts slow down as you realize that the person who will always be there for you is yourself.
This practice of self-presence doesn’t mean that you must be a lone monk on the mountain to heal from abandonment. In fact, I find that people who practice self-presence regularly are more aware of what they need and are thus more capable of clearly asking for help from others. Abandonment is best healed by a combination of self-presence as well as clear communication with supporters when you need help. What is your favorite way to practice self-presence? Please share your comments below.