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What is Abandonment?

Some people are puzzled when I tell them I work with abandonment survivors. What does that really mean? The first thing that comes to mind is a child who was abandoned by his or her parent(s). This is one example of abandonment but many people can experience abandonment in other situations. Here are some situations that can bring on feelings of abandonment:

  • One who did not have his or her emotional needs met as a child 

  • One who is experiencing a break-up or separation

  • Having a loved one (friend, family, pet) die 

  • A mother who is struggling with sending her child off to college

  • Someone who was dropped by a former therapist

What does fear of abandonment look like?

Those who fear abandonment may be afraid to get close to others. Fear of commitment can cause one to constantly seek out partners who are emotionally unavailable. One may purposely self-sabotage a relationship to avoid being abandoned later.  Regardless of where the abandonment came from one thing is clear: it can leave one feeling very alone. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of abandonment speaking to a therapist can help. You can also pick up The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson or check out for more resources.

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