Are you suffering from the fear of abandonment? Read on to know how abandonment trauma occurs and impacts you and how to heal from traumatic experiences and live a healthier, more peaceful life.
What is Abandonment Trauma?
From the moment we are born, we start forming attachments to our parents, grandparents, caregivers, and other family members. These attachments are necessary for physical, emotional, and psychological development. It lays a strong foundation for understanding how to build healthy relationships in the long run.
Love, affection, and nurture helps a child grow into a healthy adult, with high self-esteem and a sense of security. They know no fear and always confident in exploring the world or seeking new experiences.
But, if a child is neglected in the early years or grows up in an environment that lacks affection, nurture, and support; the child may experience what is known as abandonment trauma also known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of abandonment.
Signs of Abandonment Trauma or PTSD of Abandonment
The effect of trauma may vary from person to person depending on biological, financial, social, environmental factors. But, there are some signs that indicate a person is living with abandonment trauma.
- Broken relationships or friendships, separation from lover/partner, feeling unattached or emotionally unavailable to connect.
- Fear of loneliness or being abandoned.
- Holding on to toxic or abusive relationships, to avoid feeling lonely or abandoned.
- Giving too much or being overly eager to please
- Jealousy in your relationship or of others
- Having difficulty in feeling intimate emotionally
- Avoiding all relationships or friendships.
- Low self-esteem and self-worth.
- Lack of trust within the relationship
- Anxiety and depression.
- Feelings of unsafety, helplessness, inadequacy, and being “not enough.”
- Self-destructive behaviors.
- Fear of conflict within a relationship, or avoiding the conflict at all costs.
- Reacting too much or not at all to difficult situations.
- An excessive need for control over other people or situations.
- Self-judgment and perfectionism.
- Setting unrealistic expectations.
- Emotional flashbacks, leading to feelings of panic or intense emotional distress.
Causes of Abandonment Trauma
1. Abandonment trauma is caused by adverse experience or experiences in childhood that leave you feeling insecure, fearful, and lonely.
2. Growing up with severe emotional distrust has a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health.
3. A child having unhealthy attachments, loss of a strong relationship, or a dysfunctional family such as –
- Family instability due to parental disputes or separation due to divorce
- Death of parents or caregivers who the child depended on to feel safe and loved
- Emotionally unavailable family or a parent who is only sporadically engaged with the child.
- Childhood neglect due to mental health issues (such as depression in the parent) or substance abuse (such as alcoholism or drug abuse)
- Childhood neglect due to physical illness (such as paralysis) leaving the parent unable to fulfill the child’s basic needs like love and attention
Impact of Abandonment Trauma on child development
Whether it is due to parental divorce or dysfunctional family or any other reason that parent or caregiver is not able to love protect and care for their child, abandonment trauma leaves a child feeling unloved, unimportant, unsafe, and unsure of how to meet their personal needs.
Such children lack a sense of stable and safe relationships throughout their developmental years. They don’t know how to build and grow healthy relationships even in adulthood.