Posted by daisym on February 17, 2005, at 0:45:03
In the book, "Trauma and Recovery" the author (Judith Herman) talks about that moment during a trauma in which a person cries out for help (even if it is a silent cry) and no one comes. She says in that moment the person feels "abandoned" -- completely alone and left to their own psychological defenses. If they received support and help after the trauma, these feelings of abandonment dissipate after a time.
She talks about the ongoing emotional abandonment that occurs for children trying to cope with csa, both from the person doing the abusing but also from the other parent or adults in the child's life, who don't "rescue" the child. The child feels completely alone in her emotional life, dealing with feelings that are unspeakable, confusing and overwhelming. Part of encapsulating these feelings meant also encapsulating the feelings of abandonment. I think I also read that this can happen to kids who have parents who aren't abusive but are unavailable or inconsistent in an emotional capacity.
This is such an Ah-ha! thing for me. I've been struggling for most of my therapy with these feelings of impending doom...like I'm always about to be left, especially when I actually talk about the abuse. Intellectually, I know this is unlikely. But I never thought about this fear as a fear of being emotionally abandoned in this way. I've talked to my therapist a couple of times about this book and when we talked about this concept, he shakes his head in complete agreement -- telling me I was completely and totally emotionally abandoned by my parents -- he isn't surprised at all that I think he is about to leave all the time. He thinks it will just take time and his consistent ability to walk through all of this with me. He said that is why he wants me to tell him as much as I can, in as much detail as I can, so he can help hold those feelings and show me that this time, I'm not alone with them. He also said that is why "little" things that happen between us in therapy feel so devastating and why when I withdraw from him, it now feels so bad.
I still find the whole thing confusing and terrifying. But I think it helps to at least know how better to describe what I'm afraid of -- it isn't about his physical proximity, it is about his ability to be present for all of this. Wow, that's a lot to ask of him, isn't it?
I'd really like to know about anyone else's experience with abandonment fears and how you cope with them.