Home > abandonment, Uncategorized > How to Overcome Heartbreak and Heal Abandonment: 12 Guidelines

How to Overcome Heartbreak and Heal Abandonment: 12 Guidelines

Heartbreak creates a downward spiral, because not only do you feel bad, but you feel bad for feeling bad – ashamed for not being able to just rise above it. You blame yourself for feeling dejected and hopeless for so long.

But nobody just sloughs it off. Abandonment– being left by someone you love – is universally debilitating. Its pain can overwhelm adult functioning and bring the strongest among us to our knees.

Abandonment creates a serious emotional crisis; its residual damages include low self esteem and a host of self-defeating patterns that interfere in your next relationship. But for all the disturbance it creates, abandonment has yet to be officially recognized a legitimate form of grief.

Not only hasn’t abandonment been publicly acknowledged, it’s been trivialized.

It doesn’t help that celebrities are careful not to wear heartbreak on their sleeves. Public figures going through a painful breakup allow only the appropriate amount of anger to show – and only for a discreet period. Indignant anger is more socially palatable than abandonment’s crippling depression. Accordingly, the famous present a public image of “triumph.”

This posturing creates the false notion that you, too, are supposed to be able to rise above heartbreak quickly and with your dignity in tact. If you’re still pining for your ex (universal to abandonment grief, come on, admit it), then you’re just showing how needy, pathetic, and dependent you are – proving to yourself, yet again, that you’re inherently unworthy of being loved (as if being rejected weren’t enough to make you doubt your worth).

The truth is that celebrities go through the same demoralizing process as everyone else. It’s just that the social stigma of being left (rejected, bested, duped, humiliated, discarded by someone you love), is so great, that they simply can’t afford to let it show. The famous must suffer silently, secreting their festering, throbbing hearts from public scrutiny.

Abandonment isn’t exactly a socially accepted form of bereavement for anyone else either. When you’re grieving a loss caused not by death, but by being dumped, your friends and family rally round, at least at first (until they lose patience), but your colleagues and acquaintances remain at a discreet distance. They don’t publish announcements about it in their newsletters or send you flowers and condolence cards. If they chance to meet you on the street, they usually avoid making reference to your mate (or loss thereof).

And what of your closest friends? Well, it helps to have a few spare friends lined up; this way, when you wear out the first one with obsessive ruminations about your breakup, you can go to the next friend until you’ve worn out his or her ears, and then to the next. Eventually your friends begin to say infuriating things like: “Just let go and move forward” or “You don’t need a man (or woman) to make you happy,” or “Happiness comes from within,” or “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These easier-said-than-done prescriptions leave you feeling even more isolated than before.

So what’s the answer?
That’s the whole point, there is no “answer” – at least no easy one. If it were easy to get over someone, we would all rid ourselves of primal abandonment fear and the myriad insecurities that invade our relationships. But here are a few pointers:

1) Eliminate your unrealistic expectations about “just getting over it.” Accept the fact that coping with abandonment’s intense emotional crisis involves white knuckling your way through a lot of soul searching. After all, you’re coping with a life change that has been foisted upon you by someone else’s choice.
2) Rather than beat yourself up for feeling victimized and dejected, validate the fact that you are coping with a serious emotional injury. Accept all of your feelings, no matter how intense, as part of being human.
3) No matter now uncomfortable the feelings, create this mantra: This too shall pass.
4) Know that just because you’ve been “left” by someone, does not mean that you are disposable, reject able, not-attachment-worthy, or “not enough.” Catch yourself in the act of self-loathing – feeling you’re not loveable enough (substitute not… thin, successful, charismatic, sexual, compelling, etc. … enough) – and stop this self-recrimination. Undertake an immediate balanced, realistic inventory of your true strengths and weaknesses. Convert abandonment’s virulent self-depreciation into self confirmation.
5) Use your heartbreak as an opportunity to learn the important task of self-nurture. Accept responsibility for your own emotional well being. Discover your innate power to heal your own wounds. With each act of self-nurturance, you become more emotionally self-reliant – a task long overdue for most of us. Another mantra: Physician, heal thyself.
6) Face yourself. Reach to the height of your adult mind to squarely and objectively look at your own culpabilities as well as your partner’s. Don’t accept more responsibility than is due, but do face yourself courageously with vigorous honesty and humility.
7) Reach out to friends and family, support groups, sponsors, spiritual counselors, coaches, and therapists, as well as members of new organizations you join. You’re in a profound transitional period in your life; new people and old friends help expand your wisdom and selfhood. Keep your channels open to human feedback.
8) Find activities that get you into the moment. Practice mindfulness. Stay in the moment as much as possible. Practice exercises that increase your presence.
9) Take complete responsibility for your past, present and future. Turn over a leaf and vow to forever after desist from being a victim or self-victimizer.
10) Take positive actions. To accomplish this you have to fight your Outer Child. Outer would prefer to hide under the covers, wallow in self-spite, avoid taking new strides, and stubbornly insist upon staying in the funk. Now is the time for your Adult Self to take charge and move your life forward one day, one step at a time. When you feel leaden and unmotivated, take yourself (your resistive Outer Child) in hand. Put one foot in front of the other and walk through the motions of self-construction.
11) Keep a positive future vision on the screen of your mind. Refer to this future vision frequently as you go throughout the day. When you feel most hopeless (hopelessness is abandonment’s most prevalent feeling), simply conjure up positive image of yourself in the future feeling happy and peaceful. Another mantra to incorporate: Hopelessness is a feeling, not a fact. You can move your life in a positive direction.
12) Turn a minus sign into a plus sign. Vow to benefit from your abandonment experience rather be diminished by it. Commit to the long haul.

Categories: abandonment, Uncategorized
  1. Michelle
    June 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Dear Susan,

    I have been in treatment for nearly 3 years due to a severe abandonment wound (just now, I realize that to take the final ‘e’ off of ‘severe’ changes the word to ‘sever’ — No doubt, I experienced a sudden, intense ‘amputation’ when my husband of 20 years decided to, without any warning, just leave his son and me). The abandonment act is unthinkable, and the wounds left behind are debilitating. This is all made especially so since our society does not validate the experience.

    I realize that the 12 steps so clearly explained in this article are, essentially, my therapy treatment plan. Each week, my loving, patient therapist walks me through one or more of these 12 recovery steps as appropriate to my experiences of the prior week. Her encouraging words and treatment strategies help me to continue the work while on my own.

    Susan, due to this work, I have hope again. I am on the road to a life that will be (and already is) so much better because I now know that I AM ENOUGH!

    Your work is a cornerstone to abandonment recovery. You are a healer, and I am so grateful.


  2. Sarah Moran
    June 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Dear Susan

    Thank you for the website and the blog. You managed to catch me when I thought I was in free fall. A sudden abandonment by my soulmate of 14 years- he setting up a new life and mine in tatters. But your advice is sound and well presented. I fely lucky and grateful to find it.

    • June 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you for posting! Glad to hear the information is of benefit. I am so sorry to hear about your recent experience. Please write again and let us know how things are going.

  3. Danika
    September 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks for your work. I’ve read 2 of your books and It feels good to know i’m not alone. Recently, my ex who abandoned me reached out to apologize. He’s married now and has a child with this new woman. He told me that he missed me and was going through a lot of pain with this new relationship. Why would someone say that? I can’t bear to feel “hope” for his return as I feel if he left me again it would kill me. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. Shelly
    September 26, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Danika, I also hope that Susan gives some thoughts. My ex left me 4 years ago. I continue to work very hard at recovery. About one month ago, my ex surprised me by saying he would like to start dating to see if we are compatible now. He feels we have both changed. After reading your comment, I wondered if Susan has any thoughts about the abandoners returning. I want to protect my heart, but maybe he’s right … maybe it can work now. It’s all very difficult.

  5. Jeniffa
    January 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Shelly and Danika, don’t make such mistake please I beg you. look how far you have come in recovering from the initial abandonment, do you really want to put yourself through that. well I did and I regret it… am just happy and grateful that I am sane to tell the tail…. men are hunters and naturally territorial, they will always try to hunt for what they dont currently have, so them coming back is not necessary out of love or true missing sometimes they just want it all they just want to know that they can always have you there, whether or not they actually care… its like an old jumper we never wear but never want to give it out…. are you content in being this…

  6. Jeniffa
    January 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    and to the author of this blog…. thank you very much… just reading it made me feel like am ready to accept what happened and move on day by day… God Bless

  7. Lucy
    February 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Just today i was dumped, a very short romance yet so so intense. I’ve always struggled with abandonment issues therefore i crumble when things don’t go right. After reading this blog and reading from others i realise deep down that i need to take charge of my life by being kind to me first, for the last week i’ve drowned myself in the bottle as i knew he was going to leave me. I’m in a new city, no friends or family but i know that i should go to a spiritual counselor for help and continue to read blogs like this that is a life-saver. Thank God for you Susan. I absorb all your words and i pray for all those that are going through this horrible pain. I will learn to trust God and believe in myself, Love will find us…

    • February 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      I am glad to hear that you are inspired to start moving in a better direction. You deserve it, you can achieve great things on the foundation of self respect.

  8. Daner
    November 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Hey everyone. The feeling of abandonment is in my opinion THE most painful. It can make a fully grown adult break down like a child. It can put one in places that no one could Imagine! The pain is unexplainable. However, one of the greatest rewards is the rediscovery of the self. Once you discover that love is created internally, you can find your Self again.
    I really recommend this link for you all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I97s7RR3cQk&list=PL7A46572E8C038F74

    I’m on day 4 of my ex leaving me for her ex. We’ve been off and on for 12 years, was my high school sweetheart. She left me for one of her so called friends from high school, which kills because that’s where I first fell in love with her and thought she felt the same about me.
    I don’t know if she did it because of her denial, maybe i pushed her away, but the point is she left me and its not the first time. She had a kid with someone 4 years ago and after 3 years came crawling back to me. I don’t know why I forgave her, i really don’t. But my whole point is that, we have to start loving ourselves in order to have any worth to anyone else.
    If there are two things I recommend, it is a book called “The Art of War” and it will teach one how to use strategy to win at life. And the youtube link I posted. Theres another video by the same speaker called “The meaning of Desire”.

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