My parents didn’t abandon me as a child. I was always well loved, well fed, and whatever, if anything, they lacked, my loving grandparents picked up the slack. Yet, as I navigate through my journey of self-discovery, I realized recently that most of my fears stem from the fear of abandonment. (Hence, yesterday’s post about not being able to let go).
When I was around 3 years old, we moved to America from Taiwan and made the rounds at all the theme parks. I made sure I clung tightly to my daddy’s hand, as I didn’t want to get lost, and leashes for children were frowned upon back then (*please note the sarcasm*). I remember wandering around booths looking at souvenir items and I let go. I reached back up and grabbed onto my lifeline. Almost immediately, before even looking up to confirm, I knew that I was not holding the warm, comforting, familiar hand of my daddy, but a foreign, calloused, hairy hand of someone else. Simultaneously, yanking my hand away and looking up at the stranger speaking to me in a strange language, I frantically spun my head around, desperately seeking the safety of my beloved father. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and a sense of panic overcame me, as I scrunched up my face to let out the loudest wail of my life, and I heard it. The sound that immediately soothed my soul, the familiar timbre of my dad’s voice. I looked around and found the source and ran as fast as I could, my heart racing. As I reached my dad, I clung tightly to his hand and burst into tears. I don’t think I was gone for no more than ten seconds, I’m not sure if he even noticed I had gone missing for what felt like an eternity in my three-year-old mind.
So, this fear of abandonment seems very misplaced to me. Coupled with my fear of being alone, I make a great addition to the crazy insecurity train leading to Panic Attack-ville on the corner of Baggage Drive and Trust Issue Lane. It’s fantastic.
My ex didn’t do anything but perpetuate this unknown fear, and now here I am. I woke up yesterday morning with the now familiar feeling of fear gripping my insides. The catalyst was the usual culprit -a series of external circumstances that I have no control over. Almost a crushing feeling, I immediately recognized what the catalyst was in this roller coaster of emotion and set about to quiet the voices of doubt and insecurity in my head. As usual, they overtook my thinking, and unable to control them, I could feel it affect my mood. But it was different this time. I had always heard the saying being paralyzed by fear and I never really knew what it meant, until that moment. I could almost physically feel the guise around my lungs and almost immediately, I felt the beginnings of a panic attack. I was driving to work and so I put on an audiobook I’ve been listening to by the Dalai Lama and tried to breathe slowly. When I got to my destination, I sat down and just started writing (the beginnings of this post, in fact). And of course, I turned to Google. I happened upon an interview with a clinical psychologist, and it made so much sense. It’s at least comforting to know that I am not alone in my fear…that I haven’t been abandoned.
It’s funny how being able to put a label on something and reading a list of symptoms to match gives me reassurance and calm. It’s as G.I. Joe once said, “Knowing is half the battle.” So, now I have half the battle won, I just need to battle the other half :/
Taken from the article from Google:
What type of impact can relationship abandonment fears have on a person’s overall well-being?
“The impact can be quite profound. It can lead to deep insecurities about our lovability and worthiness and about others’ willingness to support us and be there for us. Fear of abandonment can cause instability in social, work, and intimate relationships…depending on how pervasive and severe the original abandonment was. A terror of being abandoned may induce someone to adapt in various ways to move away from the intolerable feeling and physiological sensations, for example by becoming controlling of others, or being perfectionistic, or overly giving, or clingy, or by staying in abusive relationships, or being abusive toward others in an effort to hold onto them. It can be associated with substance abuse, avoidance of intimate relationships, an inability to commit to a partner or to a monogamous relationship, compulsive abandonment of others, compulsive sex and dating, excessive attention-seeking, and a host of other maladaptive behaviors. Abandonment fears don’t always manifest as such. A person might enter psychotherapy thinking that they have ADHD, depression, anxiety, or some other issue, when the root is actually abandonment trauma.”