When it comes to the fear of abandonment, I’m no stranger.
I see pretty much EVERYTHING (a facial expression, a sigh, body language) as a sign that someone is going to leave me.
I’m worried that if I make a mistake, mess up, aren’t “good enough” or disappoint my “favorite person” in any way, that people will get sick and tired of me and leave.
And then — even with a lack of evidence that there is any real, true cause for concern (the person has reassured me they have no intention or desire to leave me), the spiral is already in motion.
I behave and react from that place of certainty that they would leave me. I panic, freak out, and go to extreme lengths to stop abandonment from happening.
When this happens, understandably, it’s really confusing for the other person.
Essentially, I’m interpreting little things as being big (and certain) indicators that someone is going to leave or abandon me when, in reality upon checking, the other person is NOT wanting to leave me.
This can be really confusing for people on the other end of this: lovers, friends, family members, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, therapists…
Sometimes they feel an obligation to reassure me. I worry sometimes that I am wearing them out. And sometimes I do think I have evidence for this, because,, as they put it, “What can I possibly do to make you believe that I am not going to leave?”
Sadly, if I don’t break this pattern when fear of abandonment rears its ugly head, I realize that people can become very burned out.
I may be doing the exact thing I don’t want to do by pushing people away and alienating them. This hurts others, and they may end up feeling uncomfortable and unhappy enough to leave at some point…for real.
Well, this just proves that everybody leaves and rejects me, right?
Not exactly. I need to understand my responsibility in all of this.
I keep repeating the same patterns and having the same outcomes without the tools to communicate and express my fear in a way that is not off putting to others.
I don’t know how to ask for what I want and need and trust I can get it in healthy ways.
I don’t know how to establish and enforce boundaries that help me feel safe and secure.
I don’t know how to trust that I am worthy of someone loving me and sticking around.
So, I respond the way I always have…I get hysterical…I have panic attacks…I get very clingy, jealous, and sometimes angry and even paranoid.
And then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that people are going to leave. But it’s because I’m pushing them away.
Fortunately, I have learned that THERE IS A BETTER WAY.
If you identify with this — if you’re reading along and I’m saying, “Okay, this is my story. I want to stop doing this,”
you CAN stop doing this.
DBT stands for dialectical behavior therapy. DBT skills can be incredibly helpful for emotion management and emotion, dysregulation, and emotional sensitivity, all of which I suffered from greatly. And I’m doing A LOT better and have been for many years now. But all of the above was MY story before learning these skills.
I will probably always be an emotionally sensitive person. I will still get triggered and have emotion dysregulation, but my life looks a lot different now that I have these skills, because, most of the time, I’m making skillful choices, even when experiencing intense emotions.
So I’m having different outcomes.
🌟I better know myself and even LOVE myself!
🌟I understand relationship dynamics and am able to trust the process of balanced giving and taking
🌟I assertively ask for what I need despite worries that may come up of being rejected for doing so.
🌟I am, enforcing my boundaries and respecting those of others.
🌟I have repaired broken relationships, formed new ones, my relationships are strong and lasting.
I’m so extremely passionate about the transformation that has taken place in my life (including healing from the fear of abandonment), as a result of learning, practicing, receiving guidance around, and integrating these skills into my life, that I have been teaching all of this to people around the globe for over eight years now.
And, it pleases me to no end to see others reclaiming their lives, their joy, and a renewed sense of hope. I see it daily.
Fear of abandonment — it’s a very real thing — even when it’s in response to an imagined threat of rejection or abandonment, and we **can** learn to love ourselves through it and transform our lives!
We can learn to have more compassion and to explain to those in our lives what it’s all about and what we’re doing to take care of ourselves and to grow and to get better.
Join the course I co-facilitate over at emotionallysensitive.com, and start your journey today.
🤝 Learn Evidence-Based Interpersonal Effectiveness skills
💔 Stop feeling like a victim of your relationships
🤝 Move toward creating and sustaining meaningful relationships
🩹 Learn how to repair ruptures in relationships
💻 Available as an online course
Go to www.emotionallysensitive.com/classes to enroll.
If we want things to be different, we must be willing to do something about it and put in the work.
You can do this, and you won’t have to do it alone.
In kindness and true hope,
Debbie of Healing From BPD & DBT Path/emotionallysensitive.com