Healing Abandonment Wounds
by Margaret Paul
I have counseled individuals, couples, families and business
partners for the past 35 years and authored eight published books. Every individual I've worked with has had some abandonment
wound to heal, and most relationship problems stem from abandonment wounds.
It is not possible to grow up in our society without some abandonment
wounds. The following are some of the ways it can occur:
- Being torn away from mother at birth and put into a nursery.
- Being left to cry in a crib or playpen.
- Being given up for adoption or being left in foster care.
- Being physically and/or sexually abused.
- Being emotionally abused - ignored, yelled at, shamed.
- Being pushed aside at the birth of a new sibling.
- Having a parent or caregiver who is emotionally unavailable.
- Being unseen or misunderstood by parents or other caregivers.
- Being lied to.
- Being unprotected by a parent
- Being left alone in a hospital during an illness.
- Losing a beloved parent or grandparent at a very young age.
- Being teased or left out with siblings or peers.
- Being ridiculed by a teacher.
- Being forgotten - not being picked up from school or other
- Being left at a young age to care for oneself, a parent, or
When we are deeply wounded at a young age, we cannot handle
the pain, so we find ways to dissociate from the intense feelings. Then, later in life, especially when we fall in love, these
old wounds can get activated. Our beloved gets angry, withdraws, gives attention to someone else, says mean things, doesn't
tell the truth, doesn't stand up for us, comes home late, wanders away in a crowded public place, misunderstands us, and so
on - and suddenly the pain that has been pushed aside all these years comes roaring to the surface. We think that we are reacting
to the present situation, but what is really happening is that the old, unhealed abandonment wound has been touched off. We
might find ourselves suddenly enraged or falling apart with intense tears. Our reaction seems too big for the situation, yet
we cannot seem to stop the inner pain. We might start to shake violently as the old terror finally erupts.
We want our beloved to take the pain away by stopping his or
her behavior. If only he or she would not do the thing that activates these feelings, we would be fine. Yet until we actually
heal these old, deep wounds, we will not be fine. We will always be vulnerable to having these wounds activated.
Healing the abandonment wounds does not happen overnight, yet
it does not have to take years either. Step one is to tune into your feelings with a willingness to take responsibility for
your pain. Once you are aware that deep pain has been activated, seek the help of someone who can hold you and nurture you
while you go into the abandonment pain. If no one is available, hold a doll, bear or pillow, and bring in love to the hurting
part of you. Open to your concept of God or Spirit and allow this source of love and strength to nurture you.
It is often not advisable to seek the help of the person who
activated the wound because:
- he or she may still be stuck in their own wounded place, the
place that touched off your wound;
- you might become dependent upon your beloved taking care of
you and taking the pain away instead of actually healing the pain.
Once you are with a safe, nurturing person, or even on the phone
with a safe person, hold a doll or bear or even a pillow very tightly and breath into the pain. Open to learning and allow
the Inner Child who is in pain to give you information about the original pain that is still stuck in the body. The body holds
the memories that you repressed at the time, and now the body is releasing these memories. Many images may come up as you
open to learning with your Inner Child. Be sure you have your spiritual guidance with you, holding you, surrounding you with
love and comfort as you open to learning about this deep pain. In order to truly understand your present reaction, you need
to understand what happened to you when you were little. Keep breathing deeply and allowing your Inner Child to inform you,
even if you are crying. Tell the person helping you what your Child is telling you about what happened to you when you were
little. It may take awhile, but gradually you will calm down. At that point, tune into what false beliefs you may have embraced
as a child that are affecting you now, and what else your Child needs right now to feel loved and safe.
Being there for your wounded child this way will gradually heal
the abandonment wounds. Ignoring your feelings, trying to make them go away, or trying to get someone else to take them away
will only serve to re-wound you. It is only when you no longer abandon yourself that the old wounds begin to heal. Eventually,
another's behavior that previously triggered your intense reaction will no longer do so. You may feel sad or lonely when a
loved one gets angry or withdraws in some way, but as long as you continue to show up for yourself, the intense pain will
not be there.
If the pain seems stuck in the body no matter what you do, then
you need to seek out a practitioner who knows how to release old pain out of the body through acupressure or other bodywork.
Once these old wounds are healing, you will feel a new sense
of personal power. Others' behavior can no longer trigger you into these intensely painful feelings. However, a word of caution:
we may think it is healed, only to discover another level when we move into a more intimate relationship, or more intimacy
with a present partner. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds get activated. That is why the primary relationship
is the most powerful arena for healing there is, and Inner Bonding - the process outlined here - is a most powerful tool!
(See resource box for a FREE Inner Bonding course).
Three Ways to Pursue Your Dreams
by Lisa Martin
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live the life
of your dreams? To wake up every morning feeling excited, inspired and passionate about your life? If you want to be more
engaged in your own life you need to find the courage to pursue your secret hopes and ambitions. Perhaps you want to run a
marathon, write a book, give a speech or start your own business. What’s stopping you? What’s getting in your
way? Chances are your number one obstacle is you…your shoulds, beliefs and fears. Want to blast away these roadblocks
to your happiness? Then it’s time to get out the dynamite.
1. Unplug Your Shoulds
For many of us, should
is one of the most commonly used words in our vocabulary. “I should call Linda.” “You should put your sweater
on.” “I really should go to the gym.”
Shoulds may have been ruling your life for so long that they
are almost invisible. They exist in the background of your mind, directing your choices and decisions. Shoulds get in your
They can make you feel miserable; they can make you feel guilty. They stop you from focusing on your passions
by imposing an outside set of priorities that may or may not be what you want to be doing. To stop shoulds from blocking your
path to fulfillment assess which of your shoulds can be eliminated and which are really wants or can be transformed into wants.
Aim to become a “should-free zone” by using this four-step formula:
1. Stop. Realize you’ve said
2. Look. Assess your choices.
3. Listen. Differentiate between wants and shoulds.
Understand the consequences of saying no to the should.
By following this process, you will notice that you start
saying no more often to your “shoulds” and yes more often to the things you want to do, which in turn allows your
wants, passions and dreams to blossom.
2. Blast Away Defeating Beliefs
What you think can propel you forward or
keep you stuck. Limiting and negative thoughts, about you, your abilities and the possibilities open to you, are best described
as defeating beliefs. They are often very simple, even simplistic, yet they can have a profound effect on your life.
liberate yourself from defeating beliefs you must first identify them. Pay attention to your words. What do you tell others
and yourself you cannot do? Often a defeating belief lurks behind an excuse or a fear—particularly concerning the things
you are most passionate about. “I’m too old to start this now.” “I won’t be able to make any
money doing that.” “I have to be in much better shape.” “I don’t have time.” “It
will never work.” When you explore your excuses and fears, you will discover your defeating beliefs and be able to create
a plan to eliminate them.
3. Face Your Fears
Fear, in all its forms, makes most of us feel
unprotected and insecure. It exposes our vulnerability. We become susceptible to the risk of success or failure, to
the thoughts and comments of others, to loneliness or to our own inner critic. Yet feeling frightened can also be enlightening.
Becoming aware that fear is playing a role in your life is often a gift. It gives you a chance to assess what is holding you
Don’t be afraid of fear. Instead, expose your fear to the light and determine whether it is real. Fear
definitely evokes real physical responses and emotions, yet ironically the fear itself—the source of your trepidation—may
not be real, it may be imagined or the product of worry. When you identify which fears are getting in your way, you can then
take all proper and possible precautions to move safely through them. Understanding your fears will help you minimize them
as you aim to pursue your dreams.
You have all the wisdom and power to blow-up any obstacle between you and your best
life. When you use your dynamite to dispel your “shoulds,” overcome defeating beliefs and understand your fears,
you gain the courage it takes to pursue and realize your life’s ambition. It’s your life, live it to the fullest.
© Copyright 2007. Lisa Martin. All rights reserved.
Author's Bio Lisa Martin is a certified coach who inspires working mothers
to achieve success that’s balanced. Author of Briefcase Moms: 10 Proven Practices to Balance Working Mothers’
Lives,Lisa is a sought-after expert and speaker on work-life balance issues. Known for her very personal and practical approach,
Lisa coaches working mothers to know what they want and get what they want. http://www.briefcasemoms.com
Domestic Violence: A Traumatic Event
Domestic violence and abuse is a traumatic
experience to have survived. Both women and children are affected and will deal with their injury in different ways. Children
under the age of 11, for example, are uncomfortable with talking about painful feelings. They do not ordinarily tell their
parents or other adults what is going through their minds unless they are asked.
Every survivor of a traumatic event can re-experience
the trauma at anytime. Conversations, smells, touches can trigger an event or sequence of events that benchmark when the trauma
occurred. Children especially have no way to control the intrusion of a flashback; it can happen at anytime or any place.
This can make them and their parent feel as if they are not in charge of themselves.
They could be experiencing terror, anxiety,
helplessness, rage, or grief. Because talking these feelings through is not something that comes easily for children, they
are stuck with a heaviness (imagine carrying a piece of luggage around with you everywhere you go) that they do not know what
to do with. These feelings can end up coming out in their behavior.
Each survivor is recovering and may have little
energy left for anything else. They may not be able to resolve disputes with others or even be able to give themselves
the self comfort that they need. Survivors direct their energy to the trauma either by dealing with it or trying to block
it. What remains is a human being in a fragile state that has little capacity to handle things in ways they used to.
It is important, especially with children,
not to deny their experience or its' impact on them. This type of acceptance helps a survivor to deal with what has happened
to them either directly or indirectly. When the woman comes from a nondominant group, and especially when the man is from
a dominant culture, any racist, sexual, ablest or class slurs may add to and intensify this abuse.
Like anyone who is systematically tortured,
isolated, humiliated, and given highly contradictory messages the average woman who is subjected to extreme partner abuse has little sense of
her own worth and is enormously confused and terrified.
She stays because . . . .
she still harbors some hope and/or because she does not know what else to do.
she has bought the line that children need their father and because she cannot imagine raising them alone.
family is central to her.
she "loves" this man and because he "loves" her.
not simply despite the jealousy, rage, scrutiny and violence, but also because of it.
(Part of what she fell in love with may have been super-
possessiveness, attentiveness to a fault, and the hint of violence. It is these qualities
that underpin romantic love, and in Western society the romantic love tradition underpins
he hurts and says he is lost without her. (Women are supposed to take care of and stand behind their man.)
her culture and community dictate wifely obedience and would blame her if she left.
she has no money, no one to help her, no way to earn a living, and no place to go.
he has threatened to kill her if she leaves, and she has every reason to believe that this is one promise he will keep.
he always found her, dragged her back, and beat her whenever she escaped in the past.
the alternative is loneliness and abject poverty.
Whether she has an analysis of the larger situation or not, and whether she has many illusions or no illusions at all, she stays because she is stuck in a patriarchal society that creates and mystifies the problem of wife abuse and gives only
token help to battered women and their children. In the midst of a nightmare like domestic
violence, it is difficult for anyone to remain focused and clear, let alone trust.
The popular image of "the battered wife" is of someone subject to physical abuse
that is not overtly sexual. This abuse ranges from slaps, to kicks, to being thrown against a wall, to being burned with cigarettes or being subjected to other obvious acts of torture. This popular image leaves out as much as it shows, and the
assumption itself is naive. On the purely physical side, some subtler acts deeply harm because
of their psychological impact.
Subtle disfigurement of any part of the body that the woman takes special pride in , or identifies with.
Subtle disfigurement to any part of the body that the woman is already ashamed of.
Being held firmly by some part of the body.
Sexual abuses that commonly occur in extreme partner abuse include:
Pressure to have sex.
Pressure to perform sexual acts that she finds degrading or disgusting.
Being photographed in sexual positions against her wishes.
Being forced to have sex with others, with or without the partner watching.
Being called sexual names for purposes of degradation.
Being forced to have sex while hurting from battery.
Common types of psychological abuse include being:
Constantly told that she is stupid, ugly, or incompetent.
Compared with women who are depicted as infinitely brighter, prettier, or more competent.
Told the details of affairs with other women.
"Punished" for "transgressions" committed by these other women.
Called degrading names, such as stupid, bitch, witch, whore.
Continually being accused of infidelity.
Told repeatedly that she provoked the battery and that what is
happening is her fault.
Deprived of money.
Denied the opportunities to take courses or to go places.
Forbidden to see friends and relatives.
Locked in the house.
Given threats to leave, accompanied by assurances like, "You are
so fucking ugly now that you will never be able to get another man."
The destruction of favorite objects.
Violence against loved others, including children and pets.
Continual threats of violence.
The cycle of violence itself.
Other devastating forms of abuse also occur including sexual, emotional,
and psychological abuse. Overt sexual abuse, "emotional", and "psychological" abuse are particularly noteworthy. These may accompany battery or occur alone.
We forget, to women's detriment, that women who are never punched, slapped, or kicked can
still be survivors of extreme partner abuse. Women have shared again and again, it is not
the slaps and the kicks that hurt most, it is the ongoing humiliation, the name calling,
the isolation, the general degradation.
POINTS TO REMEMBER -
Survivors of trauma respond differently.
Women/children may have:
difficulty talking about their feelings
difficulty having their feelings
loss of memory
out of control behaviors.
inability to self nurture
lack of direction
feelings of being different
lack of information
We must remember that routines are important. They provide safety, in that their
is a reliability in their sameness. Talking also helps both women and their children. Children talk at times through their play. It offers a way to work out their experiences that gives them a sense that they are over what happened.
Talking and playing provide:
Each of us have a role to share in these methods of healing.
(*footnote: In working out an exit plan with battered women and their children one
must remember that this plan should be inclusive of the entire family unit. The preceding
points could be shared with women and kept in mind in developing any future action.)
The following outcomes may be what you could expect
if your children have experienced/witnessed domestic violence
Birth - 6 years:
Babies and small children have only their behavior
to show their distress.
Babies may show more crying, irritability, need
to be held for longer periods of time.
There are night terrors, fear of going to sleep,
having bad dreams, fear of dark, etc.
Small children may be more dependent until they
can feel safe and secure again.
A lack of security may lead your child to be unable
to explore the world as before.
Children may fear being abandoned. The loss or
threatened loss of grown- ups is terrifying.
The lack of security and fear of abandonment can
show up in irritability, unusual outbursts and general out-of-control
The opposite behavior of withdrawal and rigidity
to hold off the anxiety.
Some children may purposefully hurt themselves,
their dolls, their siblings, or their pets. This is an attempt
to show what happened to them. It is also a cry for help.
6 - 12 years
Children in this age range may show signs of regression.
Some children may show a decline in school. A lot
might depend on their support system, their sleeping patterns,
and if they are depressed.
Children may talk repeatedly about the trauma or
they may not want to talk about it at all. The kids need
to find their way of getting a handle on the trauma.
Children may feel guilty or feel like a failure
because they believe they could have done more to stop everything
Reenactment of traumatic events may occur during
They may be angry at people whom they feel should
have protected them and angry at themselves for being vulnerable.
They may be afraid of being separated or lost.
Some children may take chances to try to prove
There may be more competition with siblings.
Children may be more rigid because they are trying
to deal with the trauma by constricting what is coming into
their lives. They want to stay with what's familiar.
Children may behave "spacey". Children may seem
like they're ignoring you, but it's the trauma they're trying
Feelings of smallness and of being unprotected come back and children panic.
Smallness and helplessness bring about feelings of shame.
Teens can think more about the trauma and how it
has affected them.
Teens may be very hard on themselves, they believe
they could always be doing more.
There might be signs of regression.
They may become antisocial - withdrawing from regular
activities, depression, isolation.
They might begin acting out more, like drinking,
sex, criminal activity.
Teens may want to be more grown-up so they can
feel more in control, for themselves and for the grown-ups
Sleeping problems and hyper-arousal.
Suicide is also an issue for some teens.
Some teens may feel immune because they have survived
so much. They might do things they are afraid of in order
to counteract the fear (e.g.
Trauma-driven acting out behavior: sexual acting
out or reckless, risk- taking behavior.
Efforts to distance from feelings of shame, guilt,
Flight into driven activity and involvement with
others or retreat from others in order to manage inner turmoil.
Wish for revenge and action-oriented responses
Increased self-focusing and withdrawal.
Sleep and eating disturbances, nightmares. Acute
awareness of and distress with intrusive imagery and memories
Vulnerability to depression, withdrawal and pessimistic
Personality changes and changes in quality of important
Flight into adulthood seen as way of escaping impact
and memory of trauma (early
marriage, pregnancy, dropping out of school, abandoning peer group for older set of friends.)
Fear of growing up and need to stay within family
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