Posts Tagged ‘abandonee’


May 11, 2011 2 comments

I usually don’t like to stereotype, but I cannot help but wonder if “abandoners” can be identified, stamped, and catalogued. Someone suffering through an abandonment – after being left by someone s/he loves – spends a great deal of time analyzing the abandoner. It’s called obsession. It’s the mind’s attempt to “understand” what has caused the dense tissues of one’s love-attachment to rip apart. So we “study” the abandoner’s putative “pathologies” and character traits – searching for clues is an effort to feel sane again.

So, based upon hundreds of emails filled with such obsessive analysis, not to mention my own personal experiences, I have tried to come up with a profile of an abandoner.

Abandoners come in every possible size, shape, shade, age, social form, and disposition. Parents, friends, employers, and lovers can become abandoners, usually without realizing the pain they cause.

People out there looking for new relationships might not be able to tell who is safe to attach to and who is liable to abandon you. Even those who are incapable of being emotionally responsible, look like ideal partners in the beginning when they are trying to win you over with their charms. Unless you know their M.O. (that they’ve dumped a lot of people before), it’s impossible to know for sure just who is trustworthy and who is an abandoner.

What complicates the picture even more is that one person’s abandoner is another’s permanent partner. Also, many abandonment victims go on to become abandoners themselves. The circumstances surrounding relationships are so complex, that no one of us is really in a position to point the finger. Most of us can swing back and forth – sometimes we’re abandonees and sometimes abandoners.

But everyone knows that are serial abandoners – you know, the ones who get off on inflicting emotional pain on the other person. They create devastation to show their power and sometimes, to express their anger – anger pent up from some dark corner of own abandonment history, perhaps.

But even abandoners who are not power-driven, can get a swelled head as an unintentional by-product of hurting you. They might feel badly about it, but they can’t help but go on an ego trip as they witness the intensity of your agonized desire for them. They’re not, however, about to openly admit to feelings of triumph. This would make them seem like cads. Instead they try to show their humble feelings of regret over having caused you “disappointment” or “inconvenience” (note the understatements!). They are usually easily distracted from their guilt, because they get caught up in their new lives (and new loves).

Yes, many abandoners seem oblivious to the emotional crisis they have caused by leaving you. This obliviousness seems callous and self centered to the one who was thrust into the torment of abandonment.

Ironically, this somehow puts them in a one-up position to you, and what do you do? You idealize THEM. This makes it that much harder to let go. The more they hurt you, the deeper their hook sunk into your heart.

Many abandoners attempt to BLAME the one they left behind – for the break up. “It’s because you were too needy and dependent” or “angry,” they might say.

Meanwhile, yeah, okay, you became “needy” “dependent” “angry”, but not because you ARE these things, but because you were REACTING to their gradually pulling away. None-the-less, you will beat yourself up anyway.

The reason abandoners blame the other person is to justify their actions and avoid feeling guilty. They want to keep their positive self- image at all costs – at your expense. They take as little responsibility as possible, and this just adds insult to injury. Now, as the abandonee, you’re left to grapple with the pieces of a broken relationship, feeling rejected and “kicked while your down” by their blame, criticism, betrayal, and rejection.

Then, of course, you turn the rage over being rejected against yourself, and you blame yourself, causing your self-esteem to plummet and your spirit to sink into a major depression.

Not that you don’t have some of your own soul searching to do. It’s really important to take personal responsibility for your side of the difficulties in the relationship. This self-evaluation process is painful and necessary. If you do it constructively, you’ll grow. But during the soul-searching, you’re even more vulnerable (and gullible) to your abandoner’s blame than usual. Instead of getting honest feedback, what you usually get is your abandoners’ “excuses” for his/her own commitment problem.

But wait a minute, let’s be honest. Most abandoners (don’t forget, we have all been abandoners at one time or other) do not set out to abandon. They aren’t tying to hurt you. Most are just human beings struggling to find the answers to life’s difficult challenges along with everyone else.


Just Which One Is the Abandoner?

I’m a therapist, a family member, and a friend, but no matter which role one I’m in, I tend to empathize with the abandonee.

That is, the person who received the slight. The one who WASN’T invited to the special party. The one who did a great job but got fired. The loving partner left for another.

Even as a kid, I rooted for the underdog. If I watched football on television, I got hoarse cheering for the losing team, unless they’d begin to win, and then I’d feel badly for the other team. It’s something deep in-the-bone in me, borne no doubt of my early experiences, and groomed me to become a specialist in abandonment.

Specialist or no, it’s not always so easy to tell just who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. Will the real abandoner please stand up?!

Sometimes people feel abandoned within a relationship. They endure an aching sense of chronic rejection. After years of feeling taken for granted, dismissed, ignored, or abused, they finally get up the nerve to leave. They feel entirely justified because they didn’t feel loved to begin with. They didn’t matter. Nobody claimed their heart.

Very often, I would even say almost always, the partner they are leaving goes into acute abandonment crisis – heartbreak like you’ve never seen the likes of.

So which one is the abandoner?

Of course the answer is both, but oh do I wish something could have been done to work on this problem sooner. It would spare so much pain.

Abandonment pain is the worst! And the “too late-ness” of the situation frustrates me tremendously.

I’d like to shout it from the rooftops. People have to stop abandoning each other. Lovers have to behave more responsibly. Spouses have to nurture each other’s basic need for love and acceptance. Friends, family, employers have to learn how to communicate and be open to feedback! People have to realize the pain involved in abandonment.

Here’s what complicates things: Some people are hyper-sensitive to rejection (abandonment). So they perceive rejection or insult in the slightest nuance, sometimes even when it is not there. Then they become difficult toward the person, creating a set-up where they wind up actually getting a negative response. Their fear of abandonment created a self-fulfilling prophecy. They feel like the victim, but don’t realize the extent to which they are the perpetrator.

This can take on an extreme form where people go around being belligerent toward others (getting even with them in passive hostile and not-so-passive hostile ways) based upon their misperceptions. These extreme folks have little or no insight and tend to blame all of their problems on the other person, not realizing the problems they caused.

No easy answers for now, just wanted to stroke the folks who find themselves sometimes on both sides of the victim feeling.

I’m Insecure, but It’s About Me

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Someone wrote in that his girlfriend has just pulled away after experiencing an emotional crisis in her family. The day before, they’d been like love-birds, but she’s suddenly stopped showing affection and now wants her space.

He writes, “I have been supportive and try to give her space, but I am fearful and alone and feel rejected. I fear losing her and miss her terribly.”

He asks how he can be supportive while at the same time convincing her to come back to him — without driving her away. He ends with “I feel so lost. ”

There are millions of people out there in these torturous tangles. Once someone pulls away, the balance of a relationship tips, destroying the security and mutuality. The one who feels rejected automatically feels clingy and needy — and this further tips the balance out of control.

Most people who get into this just feel hopeless. It is demoralizing to find yourself groveling for someone’s love. The desperation and neediness make you feel make you feel weak and unworthy. You feel ashamed of having become an emotional beggar.

Just a reminder: We are all capable of feeling these insecure feelings — they are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of being in a very specific and very challenging situation.

Most importantly, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is a way out of this vicious cycle. The abandonee must recognize what an absolutely fabulous opportunity this is, since the only real solution must come from within. The opportunity is to become emotionally self-assured.

Self-assured. How many people wouldn’t want to become self-assured? Well this is the best opportunity to learn how to do so.

This guy’s only other option is to lose his power to this woman. The minute he lays his emotional needs upon her, he loses ground.

So he must begin by taking full responsibility for creating his own emotional security – from within himself – by standing on his own two feet. He must immediately cease and desist from looking to her to make him feel secure.

Granted, all she’d have to do is call him and tell him how much she loves and needs him, and he’d feel secure again (depending upon many variables). But this is because she has magic power over him — she has the power to make or break his emotional well-being (not that this is her intention).

Well this is what he has to change. He cannot afford to look to her to restore his sense of security.

If she experiences him as a rock — as a self-assured rock — she will be more likely to re-attach. But his motivation must be for his own sake.

He must take 100% responsibility for making himself secure. And boy is it ever a challenge! It’s the hardest work he’ll ever do. But it’s doable. And the rewards are amazing!

Taking responsibility involves reassuring himself (this is why it’s called SELF-assurance) millions of times that he can (and must) stand on his own two feet. He can go out and look for highly nurturing activities that distract him from the anxiety. He can get into the moment by doing things that are highly stimulating and life-sustaining. This doesn’t mean that he will feel very happy doing them; the anxiety might still be running through his stomach, but he will be breaking new ground.

Think of how well this will play when he speaks with his girlfriend as she watches him going on about his independent life, fulfilling himself. He doesn’t have to pretend to be okay. He can even admit that he’s feeling somewhat lost and insecure, but that he’s using the opportunity to discover wonderful new things about himself.

Read more:

How Does One Become an Abandonment Expert? Painfully

August 2, 2010 1 comment

I’ve had such profound life-experiences with abandonment and grief that I couldn’t help but become an expert in these subjects – and I’ve learned so many things from other people as well, that I also can’t help but want to bring some hope to people out there – whether it’s for someone who is going through a loss, or a friend or relative of someone who is struggling to fill a void.

In my own experience, here I was, a psychotherapist specializing in grief, loss, and abandonment for almost twenty years when my marital partner, the love of my life for 18 years, without warning, suddenly up and left me for another woman.

The devastation I felt catapulted me into an intensive change. I had to meet the challenge of dealing with the excruciating pain of loss, rejection, and betrayal. To survive, I had to get to the bottom of this pain to discover what made it so potent. Going right into the pit, I learned new ways of coping. The effort resulted in my publishing three books on abandonment, radio appearances, television talk shows, articles, my website that reaches out to abandonment survivors and clinicians throughout the world, and the workshops I give around the country to guide people through the techniques of abandonment recovery.

But it isn’t just abandonment that I’ve developed an expertise in, thanks to new life-experience. After being abandoned, I was fortunate to be able to find love again. My new marital partner, Paul, and I were together for 9 beautiful years, but within the past 4 years, he died. A whole new level of sensitivity opened up for me.

The amazing thing is that I had already been doing grief counseling for almost 30 years by then (in addition to abandonment therapy). I’d taken every training course in grief and thanatology known to humankind in the New York Metropolitan area, and felt that I was very knowledgeable about the grief process. What I learned is that I understood it on paper, but it took experiencing it to really get to the heart of what it’s all about – and to figure out how to meet its challenges.

In contrast to the grief experience, when I had gone through the abandonment 10 years earlier, there was no such thing as abandonment recovery and certainly no support groups for abandonment (because I hadn’t begun to set all of this up yet). I was pretty much alone, save having an extremely good therapist, Richard Robertiello MD who is now deceased who helped me immeasurably by validating my feelings and offering a roadmap for taking it a day at a time.

But with this more recent loss – Paul’s death, things were different. Bereavement is a socially recognized phenomenon. There was plenty of help and I reached out to several bereavement groups for widows and widowers. This was so helpful. I met wonderful people, continue to meet with quite a few of them, and learned so much about myself and about how “life goes on.”

I want to be able to talk about what I’ve learned from my experiences as a psychotherapist, as a widow, as an abandonee, as a human being – and what I’ve learned from so many people. I welcome feedback and questions from people.