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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

How can I overcome my fear of abandonment now that my biggest fear has come true?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (10125 points ) April 13th, 2012 from iPhone

I apologize ahead of time for the length of this story but I feel its necessary to give as many details as possible so that you may understand better and hopefully help come up with a solution.

I have always had a huge fear of my significant other one day leaving me and never coming back. From when I was young and just starting to date I had control issues with boyfriends. I always needed to make sure I knew where they were, who they were with, be positive they were going to keep in contact, etc. If they didn’t and there was a moment that I was unsure of their whereabouts, I would lose my mind. I’d panic. I’d cry. But the moment they would call, or come over, a rush of relief would pass through me. If you’ve never experienced this or can’t relate, compare it to this…imagine if there was a chance your loved one could have been involved in a plane crash that you heard about on the news. You aren’t sure if it’s their flight for sure but they won’t answer their cell and you have no way of finding out until they either call you, or they don’t, which would mean the worst is true. But it’s a waiting game until then. That is how I feel.

This could stem from a number of events in my life. Could be due to the fact that my father was never around for me and would promise to come pick me up and then never would. Or would promise to call and never would. It could also stem from my very first official boyfriend. We dated for 9 months before I decided to give him my virginity. The very next day, he disappeared. He moved out of state with his mom and I never heard from him again. It was crushing. And I was completely out of control of the situation. It seems like ever since then, I have had a terrible fear of abandonment.

Well, my worst fear is coming true right now. My boyfriend, who is the father of my 6 month of son is gone. I dropped him off at a friends house last week and he never returned. I know he’s alive. I have talked to him in texts and I actually seen him yesterday. But he won’t come home yet and I’m not sure he ever will. This was completely out of the blue. I’m not sure what exactly he’s going through but I believe he panicked and ran away from his problems. We have been struggling financially. He just started a new job but discovered it was significantly less money and we would never make our bills. Instead of figuring out a solution together or voicing his concerns to me, he ran and hid. Leaving me and our son to fend for ourselves. My loving, free spirited, caring father to our son, has turned into the total opposite. And needless to say, I am not dealing well at all. I’m ashamed that I was blinded. I’m embarrassed to tell my family (other than my mom) because I feel like a failure. And besides being humiliated, I can’t function in my daily life. I wake up with a terrible feeling in my gut. I go to bed crying. During the day I’m a zombie, when I’m not in a total panic. My heart hasn’t stopped skipping beats yet. Everytime my phone goes off I almost die. I keep thinking he’ll walk through the door and everything will be normal again. But if that doesn’t happen, what happens to me? How do I go on with life? It’s unimaginable right now. All I can think about is how to get him home. How to change his way of thinking and make him realize that no matter how tough things get, we have to stick together.

Yes, this would be a tragedy to any normal person with a baby at home. But for me, it feels beyond tragic. It feels like I’m dying more and more inside every minute he’s not here. To go from being with your best friend, the love of your life almost every waking minute of the day, to not seeing or speaking to them for over a week is something I haven’t learned how to deal with yet. My home feels empty, my bed feels empty, and my heart feels empty. How can I be ok again? Not great, not happy, but just ok. Is there anything I can do to help keep my mind off of this terrible situation? I hide it enough from the outside world because I don’t want anyone to see me that low. I don’t want my son to see mommy upset and wonder why. But inside, I’m a disaster and I fear that eventually I will break down. Any advice?

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19 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Pull yourself together and focus on the child. Thinking about the welfare of someone else is a great remedy to worrying about your own feelings, and it’s doubly important when you have a child who is depending on you to take care of it.

SmashTheState's avatar

Just a note that fear of abandonment is the most classic sign of Borderline Personality Disorder. Have you ever had any kind of analysis? You may benefit from therapy, although BPD is usually ranked as the single most difficult personality disorder to treat.

gailcalled's avatar

You have serious immediate issues that you deal with NOW. Call your family; forget about being embarrassed or humiliated. Those are long-term issues and can wait.

For the sake and safety of your baby, pick up the phone this minute.

Nothing else matters.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Trillian I figured that knowing that my son is soley depending on me would be motivation enough but instead, it makes me more upset knowing he could possibly grow up without a father, the same way I did. Which I why I start to panic and figure out how to get him to come home. I didn’t want this life for my baby. But by no means am I neglecting him or not able to take care of him. My mom has been with me almost every day helping out also. I wait until he’s asleep and then I let it out.

@SmashTheState I do see a psychologist regularly but he diagnosed me with bipolar 2. I have never fully been convinced I have bipolar. The anger made since, the mood swings maybe, but I rarely have those highs that are associated with bipolar. Reading the borderline personality disorder literature just made my mouth drop open. Why has my doctor not mentioned this? It sounds just like me. I’m shocked.

Trillian's avatar

Ok, so your best bet is just allowing yourself to process all your feelings and get through them. You can’t not feel. It will grow less with time. As long as you continue to function, allow yourself some time each day to just feel the hurt and grief, then put it away again.
It will ease with time. I say this from first-hand experience.

Judi's avatar

Your reaction to this can be a defining moment in your life.
As you have expressed, you have deep control issues.
If you can learn to surrender in this situation, letting it play out as it will, not trying to force him into anything, you will have an opportunity for a real emotional breakthrough.
Your situation makes me think of the serinity prayer.
“Grant me the serinity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ”

zenvelo's avatar

First of all, this is not your fault, it is his!

It is hard to do this, believe me I know, but you need to talk to people in your family. Be strong in saying he has left you and you need their emotional support. Reach out to good friends, too. Don’t try to keep it secret, get it out in the light of day. It will be better for you, and it will hold him accountable if he comes back.

He has violated your trust, and abandoned his child. If he comes back, don’t just let everything be alright. This is something that if you don’t talk about it and work through it, it will happen again.

Cupcake's avatar

(((((hugs)))))
– Talk to your therapist about borderline/fear of abandonment/your boyfriend.
– You have been hurt by many, many men. You have made it through those hurts… you will get through this one.
– Let go of your embarrassment. You are not a failure. You are waking up every morning and taking care of your baby every day. You are a success.
– Don’t text him. Don’t call him. He may be responding to your fear (terror?) of abandonment by pulling away. He has his own issues too. You have to give him space.
– Go to a yoga class. Do physical activity. Meditate. Listen to inspiring music.
– Eat as healthy as you can and get plenty of sleep.
– Tell yourself you can get through this.

janbb's avatar

I am coming out of the other side of an abandonment and I had residual trauma from my childhood too. It is a major trauma to be left and my husband took care of many of the practical aspects of life so this has been a major adjustment for me. (Having to grow up at 60 is hard!) What has gotten me through the worst of it has been the support and love of friends, an innate resilience that I never knew I had and facing and suffering the pain and grief. I made lists in the beginning of the essential things I had to do each day and then would put on a nightgown and relax for part of the day when they were accomplished. You need to reach out to your family and friends! I kept a list of friends I could call to talk to and spoke to different ones at different times. Fuck a sense of failure – you don’t have the luxury to wallow in that. You need help and support from family and friends, you need to take care of your baby and you need to take care of yourself. And you may well need anti-anxiety meds for a while. I woke up the first several weeks at 3 a.m. consistently with my heart pounding.

I recommend the book “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson. It talks about your exact issues and it helped me understand myself more deeply.

My husband left only 4 months ago and already my life is so much better than it was initially. You may need to live without a man for a while until you can figure out how not to latch on to the wrong ones.

One more piece of advice – find a parenting support group to attend with your baby. it will help you a lot.

ninjacolin's avatar

“imagine if there was a chance your loved one could have been involved in a plane crash that you heard about on the news. You aren’t sure if it’s their flight for sure but they won’t answer their cell and you have no way of finding out until they either call you, or they don’t, which would mean the worst is true. But it’s a waiting game until then.”

That was a great description. Brings back some memories and makes me think I’m less crazy now for ever feeling that way about someone now that I know someone else experienced it exactly as I would describe.

wundayatta's avatar

First a note about diagnoses: people get their diagnoses changed all the time. Sometimes the diagnoses are so close to one another that it is easy for docs to be confused. Often times, it doesn’t even matter, because the treatment will be exactly the same. Are you taking meds? Have you told your shrink about the anxiety issues and the abandonment? This is the kind of emergency that deserves a call to the shrink so you can get an immediate adjustment in meds, unless, of course, you aren’t taking them because you are breast feeding or something.

In that case, diagnosis still doesn’t matter because you are still doing the same thing. You get therapy and support group—maybe several different kinds of support group.

As to abandonment—I don’t know. Just as information, every time I read something you write, I am always surprised you are still together with your partner. I don’t know why. The feeling I get from you is that you don’t pick guys who will stick with you. Maybe you don’t believe a guy should stick with you.

I found that when I was sick, I would drive women away as soon as they fell in love with me. I knew they were going to dump me eventually, so it felt like it was more in my control if I pushed it to happen rather than waiting helplessly for it to happen. A lot of that had to do with my own sense of worthlessness. I tried to make reality conform to this idea I had about myself.

As to fear of abandonment. Well, what fear? It’s come true. What can you do but accept it and move on? He might come back, but please don’t count on that or spend much time hoping for it. You probably do not choose men who can handle you. You have a lot of fears and insecurities and a lot of guys think that is too much to put up with. They may not know how to reassure you. You probably ask for a lot of reassurance and they probably don’t understand it, thinking they’ve given you more than you need, already.

It’s water under the bridge, anyway. Right now, it’s you and your son and you will have to figure out how to make that work. Yes, you will be lonely. Yes, it will suck. Yes, danger of depression. But you do have a son, and your son will save your life, because you will not let him be hurt. Be grateful for that.

My kids and my wife saved my life because they convinced me they needed me. I thought no one needed me. But I have friends who also need me, and therefore there is a place for me in life. I am grateful to those who give me a place. Fluther gives me a place, and also helped save my life.

So focus on doing what you have to do to take care of your son, and let that be your motivation. Work on bringing your son’s father back into your son’s life, if not yours. The father sounds somewhat incapable of handling the troubles you have, and is running instead of fighting. Fight or flight. Both work. Too bad he chose to run. But in the long run, I don’t think it is worth being angry with him about that, and certainly it is not worth using your son to get back at him for abandoning you. Your son will suffer. Your son needs as much of his father as he can get, so try not to get in the way, even if it hurts you. The good done for your son will be more than the harm done you. Of course, don’t be taken advantage of, either.

Good luck.

Judi's avatar

@wundayatta ; Ouch. One of the last things my first husband said to me before he commited suacide was, ‘you don’t need me anymore.”

wundayatta's avatar

@Judi I hope you don’t blame yourself. There is only so much you can do to convince anyone you need them. The last part has to be done by the person who has to believe you. Sometimes people just don’t give you or themselves a chance. That’s just a function of the pain they are in. I hope this makes sense.

Judi's avatar

@wundayatta , I didn’t until I just thought about my response in light of what you said. We had just been through a tough time and I was deciding if I was going to leave. I made a decision to stay and work it out. I told him that I was with him because I loved him and chose to be with him, not because I “needed” to be with him.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think fear of abandonment comes from a position of vulnerability. Try to take steps to make yourself less and less vulnerable. Seek out ways to make you and your baby financially secure. That may mean moving back in with your parents while you get on your feet. Put together a plan: a 1 year, 3 year and 5 year plan of where you want to be. Then work on getting there.

Try to put your attention into these activities instead of feeling vulnerable and abandoned (not easy I know). The more steps you take down that road the easier those steps will feel.

When you feel overwhelmed scream into a pillow, punch the bed, or go for a run. Then pull yourself together and keep running at your plan.

You can do this!

creative1's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 First I want to tell you to grieve for the loss of your relationship then I want to tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to.. If you say and believe you can do something then you can, but if you even doubt yourself for one moment and think you can’t well then you can’t because you won’t allow yourself to be able to do it.

Its time that you tell yourself that you don’t need another to make your life complete, that your life is great the way it is and you can raise your son to be a strong independent man. If your son’s father happens to come back it should be on your terms and not because life will end without him. He will see that you are a stronger more independent woman.

I know you can do this no matter what the outcome, you need to work on your self esteem and realize that life doesn’t revolve around having a boyfriend in your life.

Leanne1986's avatar

All I can say is I know how you feel. Something similar happened to me a few years ago and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. The situation ended up righting itself but until that point I just tried to surround myself with the very few people that I wanted to be with (my best friend and her girlfriend). I really believe those two girls kept me going during that time. Is there anyone that you can spend time with and talk to that will be able to help you put things into perspective.

I think your description of that feeling of panic is incredibly spot on by the way.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Thank you for all your great responses. Things seem a tiny bit less painful today than yesterday. It still hurts to imagine how someone who supposedly loved me could so easily turn their back but I’m starting to ask myself why would I want someone like that? Is that what’s best for me and my son? Probably not. I react so quickly when someone leaves that I don’t ever think about if maybe it’s for the best. If he came back today, initially I would feel amazing. Like I won! But eventually once that feeling wore off, would I still feel the same love as before? Would I be able to trust that this would never happen again? Do I want to be with someone that did something so terrible to his family? All these are things I have to keep asking myself. Maybe if I feel like I’m in control of this and that I’m the one who doesn’t want him back, I’ll feel more at ease.

ro_in_motion's avatar

After a lifetime in pain, I came to the conclusion that any relationship can end overnight and act that way. All I can do is maximise what I do ‘today’ to make the relationship better.

Having a baby is, perhaps, the biggest challenge a young couple can face. Everything changes. No matter how much you prepare for it, it’s always different than you expected. For men, I’m guessing, it’s a loss of options. It means they have a lifetime responsibility and a need to act mature. They can feel like their future has suddenly become dark.

Your body is a chemical roller coaster both before and after birth. Having him, apparently, running away does not help the matter at all.

Perhaps your very best option is reaching out to friends and family for emotional (and financial) help. Rather than sitting around talking darkly about what a shit he is, you can find joy and spirituality from the people around you. And, of course, take solace in the fact that you have a wonderful, healthy child for you to focus love on.

Will he come back? Who knows? Should you take him back? That’s up to you to decide. The key issue is, of course, trust. If he doesn’t come back detailing his feelings and shortcomings, I’d be very cautious. However, keep in mind that both of you have to want to be in a relationship together. You have the option of leaving it at any time.

All of our lives are so very short. Do not waste time with what doesn’t work. That was a very hard-won lesson for me.

If I can be of any help, ask. :)

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