Strategies I use for abandonment issues

Recent events have pushed to analyze my abandonment issues further. Namely, I recently had a bit of a disagreement with my friend and I noticed how upset I became when he distanced himself. This has also pushed me to describe various ways through which I handle abandonment issues in my life. I believe these ways are perhaps also familiar to other people who struggle with the same problem.

My first way to deal with my abandonment fear is to surround myself with people. I make friends, I try to keep in contact, I try to avoid loneliness. Naturally this has become a lot more difficult with my move to foreign country, but also with people simply starting to have families. At the point where I still had ample choice of friends around, I put much less stress on my relationship. With fewer friends, I make increasing demands to my partner on having to be available to me. Furthermore, now that I am single, I get attached awfully easily. I meet a guy and my mind goes around already planning a future with him.

My second strategy to deal with my abandonment issues is through avoidance. When I get triggered I try to numb myself with alcohol, food or shopping (it could previously also be through contacting friends). I can also work obsessively or watch Netflix. All the replacement activities that there are.

My third strategy is self-improvement. I used to read tons of self-development books with the sole purpose of being more attractive as a friend or lover. I thought, that when I could make myself perfect enough, people would like me, come to communicate with me and definitely not abandon me.

My fourth strategy is distancing and try to control this fear. I have become aware of my abandonment issues and the toll they have on my relationships. So I try hard not to overwhelm people. When I get too obsessed or close, I consciously distance myself. It makes having sincere relationships from my side difficult, because I am constantly keeping in mind – do not overwhelm the other person, do not overwhelm them. Remember! Furthermore, the relationship obviously circles more around the other persons needs than mine.

Finally, something which I do very little these days, I blame the people for abandoning me. I mostly do this with my significant others. I tell them how they should have been there for me and they chose not to be and how unfair it is.

 

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In a relationship with narcissist?

All  – my mother and my two exes show some signs of narcissism. I find that the definition of narcissist as someone who is hiding their true self behind some grandiose false self is quite fitting. It has taken me some time to actually start perceiving these behaviors and narcissistic traits, because I never questioned those.

Lately, with a little bit of distance I am starting to see such behaviors more clearly in my ex. I notice certain manipulative behaviors. For instance, my ex finds it necessary to fill me in, in terms of how many women flirt with him. Hell, he wrote a separate message to tell me. Actually, he was telling me also in the middle of our relationship about some women that flirted with him. This to me seems like a behavior which is catered towards showing ‘how wanted guy he is’.

Another behavior that I have recently noticed is his lack of regard to my feelings. When I actually tried to communicate my feelings in the relationship, my ex repeatedly said that I was overly dramatic and everything circled around my feelings in the relationship and his were never taken into account. Now, I cannot comment on how much I took into account his feelings or not, because obviously I am not an objective judge for that, but what I can say is, if he was really constantly taking into account my feelings over his, then his reactions would not have so often entailed telling me how insignificant those very feelings were. Namely there is a certain discord between him telling me how he never dared to go against my feelings and openly telling me that I was a drama queen. If he really had been so afraid to confront me, he would ha never be able to tell me something like this.

Now another thing, which I have pointed out repeatedly in this blog already was that my ex really did not like when I brought out his negative behaviors or traits. Mostly I thought it was just because he could not accept blame, but now I am coming to see that me pointing to these very weaknesses was actually threatening his false image. I was pointing too much to this vulnerable self that he was trying to cover up. My ex is still pointing out to me that he does not like to analyze himself and he does not like to deal with his feelings. In fact, he hates me doing this as well. I used to think this was some fault of mine – being overly obsessed with these things (ex also openly blamed me for that). Now I see this in a different manner, in fact if you have an open and loving relationship you do open up about these feelings and vulnerabilities. You do not see someone who tries to help you open up as an enemy.

There are multiple other behaviors which I am starting to see, but I will leave these for the next post.

Changing the dependency relationship

I have had one of those epiphanies again where I look back at my longest relationship which lasted for six years and realize how our dynamics were changing along my therapy. Since writing helps me to make sense of everything, I am just going to put it down here.

As I started dating my ex, I was a child. I was carefree, funny and playful, but I was also irresponsible and compliant. My ex was more of a caretaker – wise and comforting, but also at times somewhat dictatorial and inflexible. This dynamic was problematic from the beginning, because my ex did not do responsibility very well, whereas I was never fully compliant. Hence, even in the beginning we had our fights, but the duo worked much better then.

What happened over the years was that I started to slowly become less compliant and develop my independence. I started having my own opinions, instead of first looking at everybody else to find out what I should think and do. I also refused to take the blame for every mishap in the relationship. Suddenly there was very little tradeoff for taking care for me. Even though I have started to develop a bit of rebellion against being submissive, I had not fully developed the ability to be responsible grownup (as also witnessed by the last post). Hence the relationship with me became challenging to say the least.

I feel that I am currently on the last part of becoming fully independent – namely I am trying to take full responsibility for my actions and my life. I am trying to see and show myself as less of a victim and more of a person who accepts responsibility for whatever happens. Instead of going to become depressed or complaining about how life is so unfair, I am trying to figure out the appropriate cause of actions.

My ex, I think, has started his own little development. My changes have not left him completely untouched. He has noticed the problems with his anger outbursts. He is slowly starting to question his opinion on me just being a person with whom no one can have a proper relationship. However, since he started his route later than me, he is now somewhere in this inconvenient middle step, where he is giving up his caring tendencies, but still wants to control and dominate, making a relationship with him difficult to say the least.

If everything works out great, you will have two people in the world who can now express themselves without the bounds of the roles they once took over. I am still struggling with accepting responsibility and my ex is definitely struggling with listening and accepting other people, but I think we are on a good path.

Learning to be independent

I have spent my life being dependent on someone. First I was dependent on my mum and then later I was dependent on my boyfriends. It does not make me proud to admit, because well, who would want to say out loud – hey for the most part I have no idea how to take responsibility for my own life. Actually, I am pretty good at delegating this responsibility and then blaming the cruel fate if this does not work out.

So, yeah. Part of my growing up was unfortunately my mother making me dependent only to have more control and power over me. In the process she also put me down to the degree that I lost all belief in my personal capabilities and thought that I always need someone else to take care of me. Let me tell you, learning to take care of yourself at the other part of your twenties is tiresome. Especially since you feel like you are competing with people who have 15 years more experience.

Somebody would probably say here that life is not a competition, but lets face it. It kind of is. It is a competition when it comes to finding a job. It is a competition when it comes to finding a partner. I would reframe and say, people who merely see life as a competition are unhappy. However we cannot deny that there are certain age related expectations which I still to a day fail. I am slowly learning, but I often sense people’s surprise when I have no clue about something which for them seems obvious. Take for instance home insurance. I really did not have much clue about that. There are thousands of other grownup things which I suck at. It makes me embarrassed especially since nobody is going to come and say this to you, because everybody expects that you already know this stuff. Too bad if you do not…

I am still living together with my ex, because part of me is still scared that I will not manage independently. I know that I will move away, but I am gathering strength and courage. I know living alone will be a good thing for me, but there are just so many things I am worried about in the process. This is another thing which most people can do when they are 22 to 25. But it is a long process and I am taking it step by step.

Feeling unimportant for people

Something that I have potentially struggled for years is feeling like I invest into relationships more than other people. I guess the investment would not even annoy me that much, but what I feel is that I take those relationships far more serious and care more about the people around me than they do about me. Now, I am not really sure if this is just a result of my twisted thinking or if this is anyhow reflection of the reality.

With my ex I would always get super confused about the fact that he could just disappear in his home country and not feel any need to communicate with me. Furthermore, he even told me how he is having such a great time with his friends that, conversations with me would only be a drag. With the ex before that, I ended up moving to another country whereas he could still make up his mind about his feelings for me. I guess it is safe to say that at least in these two relationships I got more attached to these guys than they to me.

This gets me thinking – have I just been investing into people who have not shown equal amount of care and love towards me and who take me more as an option? Have I somehow magically mirrored my feelings to them, assuming that they must feel the same and ignored all the signals which prove the opposite?

I remember how I once had this affection towards a guy, who I now can safely assume never felt anything towards me. Furthermore, he treated me on several occasions rather impolitely. However, I just kept holding on to my idea that he must have some secret feelings towards me.

I think I am slowly starting to understand that I have perhaps overinvested to several of my relationships. However the more important question is why. This is something I need to further explore.

Imaginary relationships

I have a habit – getting stuck on dreaming of a guy who seems reluctant to have anything with me. Maybe it is not specific to me, maybe many women do this, but nevertheless I will first describe you the habit and then the underlying reasons for it.

See when I like a guy I have met, I start obsessing about him. I go into a dreamland where I imagine how and if we would fit together. Then a week goes by and the guy has not contacted me. Instead I will turn towards my friends and ask about their opinions on the guy. I will indulge in daydreaming. Anything but to let go of the poor guy who obviously has not been interested enough to contact me. Then I obsess around whether I should contact him myself. Low and behold, this can go on for months.

This is not really normal, but this was the pattern I got into when I was small. Back then, instead of daydreaming about guys, I daydreamt about having a perfect family, with father mother and a little house. Perhaps also a brother. This dream kept me alive during the darkest hours and I kept reading children’s books in order to keep that alive. At a certain point the dream of a perfect family got replaced by the dream of this one guy that will save me.

My dream was geared towards making me feel safe, supported and loved. Since the real environment around me was lacking in all of these aspects, I created an imaginary world. I guess the parallel is appropriate, my real world is currently lacking family and even a close knit friends circle, so I am keeping alive these dreams of guys I meet and have connection with.

I have yet to work on these feelings of absence on a more thorough manner. It is obvious that this kind of dreaming is a habit which I indulged in for years and it will take a bit to let it go. It has functioned so long as something that kept me alive, so I image there will be resistance about letting it go.

 

Being attracted to inconsistent and (unstable) partners

For years I have been attracted to guys I could never quite figure out. They either sent out conflicting signals or remained unobtainable. I would say that before starting a therapy I was mainly attracted to guys who were never into me, but ever since I started therapy, my attractions have more been towards guys who actually did have some level of interest in me, but they were not quite consistent for various reasons. I think I have finally figured out the reason for this pattern.

See when I was a child, my mother was highly unpredictable. She could be one day in a good mood and be all nice towards me and the other day she could be extremely angry and threaten to kick me out. Such variation is also in fact very characteristic to my ex – Marc. There were days when Marc was the best boyfriend ever, he could give me massages, he would listen to my childhood issues etc. Then there were moment when Marc threatened to leave me or was ranging to the point where I was actually afraid of him. Then there were also period when Marc disappeared as he was visiting his home country.

This all left me very confused. I could never make sense of Marc the same way I could not make sense of my mother. Both had their great moments, so it was unfair to call them evil or what not. In fact during their moments of greatness they were way better human beings than I was. However during their low moments they were also way worse human being than I was.

See the problem with such relationships is that you can never really fully relax. You are constantly alert and unaware of what is coming. When I started dating Marc, I developed a habit, which I never had before with my boyfriends. When he did not call, I would get extremely worried. I thought that maybe it was sign of my neediness and I had just suppressed it with my former boyfriends, but actually it has more to do with me not knowing what was going on. With my consistent partners I could relax even when they did not call, because my first thought was not – oh god maybe they are angry at me, maybe they are going to leave me. However, with Marc I was constantly anxious about having potentially done something that angered him or pushed him to distance himself. It was the exact copy of my childhood environment.

However, it has taken me till now to understand this pattern and fully emphasize with how I have been feeling my whole life. In fact, since this is quite a new discovery, I am sure I will write a bit more about it in the future.

 

 

Attachment types and the bumpy road towards secure attachment

If anyone is wondering what I am talking about here, then you can find a better description of these types here (https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-anxious-preoccupied/). Anyways, I started my therapy by being fearful-avoidant type. These types often crave intimacy, but find it difficult to accept when offered. This is the most disturbed type out of all the attachment types and is developed as a result of childhood abuse (mostly). There is little written on how one can change their attachment type or how difficult it may be. So I am going to contribute to this obvious lack of literature here.

So throughout my therapy I have peeled off the protective layers in my psyche so that I could finally face my issue without the intense walls. These walls served a good purpose during my childhood and helped me to deal with my life, but nowadays prove to be problematic. At this point I have reached the ‘level’ where I could categorize myself as anxious preoccupied type. The difference is that now I have lost the protective layers, defending me against abuse and just have a high need for intimacy and love. I have somehow managed to resolve the part of my childhood which made me extremely distrusting of others and forced me to carry a mask and have begun to trust others more and more.

Where I however still struggle quite a bit is in trusting myself. Trusting my ability to manage alone. Trusting myself to be attractive enough for others so that they would stick around. I am still anticipating abandonment and I do not trust that others are there for me after I have not communicated with them for a while. I dare to be more of myself around them than ever before, but I still think that they could walk away any moment. Furthermore, I still think that a lot of their behavior is about me and not about them. Someone being a bad mood – surely it is because of something I did and not something to do with some outside hinder. Someone not responding to my facebook message – surely it is because they do not like me.

Theoretically it is interesting how transforming from fearful-avoidant towards secure for me includes first becoming anxious-preoccupied type. I still have some way to go, unlike I thought couple of months ago. In fact there are still some quite big challenges ahead of me, but I believe I am somehow moving to the right direction.

The types of relationships you have with trust issues

I am currently working through what I believe to be the last part of my therapy – trust issues. As I am going through this, I am also starting to notice an interesting pattern in my past relationships. Largely my relationships can be divided into two. An important note here is that I am talking about the relationships that actually existed and not the one’s I was having in my mind with all these unavailable guys. Anyways the two types can be described as follows: the relationships with somewhat emotionally available guy who was clearly more interested in me than I was in him and the relationships with guys who for some reason were not very emotionally available or interested in getting to know me.

This revelation seems currently big and transforming to me so let me continue by describing those two types of relationships in further detail.

Lets start with relationships with guys who were emotionally available, but not really completely down to my alley. So I have two guys in particular in mind when thinking about this category. Both in a way are sweet guys who showed affection towards me. Approaching them was easy, because I could see that they were interested in me. Naturally I had some anxiety, but still I ended up dominating these relationships big time, because I was the less interested side. I could flat out disrespect these guys, because sometimes their emotional availability seemed like a weakness to me. Furthermore their keen and loving interest towards me made them ‘low’ in my eyes. I always connected it with approval seeking and to a degree, I think it also was. Both guys must have sensed that my interest towards them is somewhat smaller than their interest towards me and tried to compensate it with some forms of approval seeking. Naturally, at the time I had no idea what was going on. Oh no, I went around and lamented about some perceived betrayals that these guys had brought about also describing all the moments that they hurt me. Little did I know that I probably hurt them much more.

So lets now focus on the other group. See these guys were safer, because they actually did not seek for deep emotional connection. Instead, they somehow felt also safe in a more superficial relationship. They were not interested in what I felt or even to some degree who I was. Rather they were negatively surprised that there was more to me than the nice and shiny exterior which I presented to the world. It became to annoy them because it meant work. All the feelings, all the layers of meaning – that was not what they signed up for. I was left confused and frustrated, not acknowledging that this was exactly what I signed up for. Their unwillingness to go and explore made me feel safe. They could never find out about real me, because they did not have skills nor interest to do so. Instead, I would know everything about them and again, dominate the relationship.

In both cases I was in control. In the first example because I did not have equally strong feelings towards the guys and in the second case, because the guys never knew the real me. The topic itself is wide enough so I will probably need to eloborate in further posts about some underlying issues related to those two types of relationships. However, for some reason I suspect that these two types are not only characteristic to me, but also to some other people that struggle with letting go of control.

The feeling that I do not matter

I have been exploring a little bit more on my recent demotivation. Nothing seemed to be quite worthwhile pursuing. I have not been disinterested or low on motivation for quite a while, ever since basic school I would say, so there was a definite need to explore further these feelings.

So what I have discovered is that my core issue (because I believe everyone has one core trauma) might be that I felt I never mattered. I was not important. My thoughts were not important, my feelings were not important. I am still exploring this, so I cannot provide very elaborate discussions on as to why I felt that way.

However I can talk about compensation strategies which I have used over the years in order to escape this feeling. Mostly I have tried to compensate through achievements and through making myself socially more acceptable, more desirable. I have sought attention and desiring eyes. I have sought after people who would care about me, extensively. At the level which is probably over the top for any grownup relationship.

My feelings of insignificance have on the other hand also led other people to disregard me. To abuse and use me both in private and work situations. Let me tell you, if you do not believe you matter, others pick up on that pretty quickly as well. So this will be one of my major challenges still ahead.