3 Ways The Childhood Abandonment Wound Shows Up in Romantic Relationships
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Hi everyone! Welcome back, and welcome to our newcomers. I’m glad you’re here :)
Today, we will talk about the childhood abandonment wound and the 3 ways it shows up in relationships. I learned about these from the book, Becoming the One: Heal Your Past, Transform Your Relationship Patterns, and Come Home to Yourself by Sheleana Aiyana.
What is a Childhood Abandonment Wound?
The childhood abandonment wound occurs early on, when a child feels emotionally or physically separated from their parent, creating a deep wound in their subconscious mind.
The abandonment wound is important, because when left unhealed, it can dictate our behaviors, unconsciously, not only in romantic relationships, but also in work and other parts of our lives.
Why Do Childhood Abandonment Wounds Occur?
Childhood abandonment wounds occur due to a physical or emotional separation between the parent(s) and the child at an early age.
The main reason this occurs is when our emotional needs were not met, due to a physically or emotionally absent parent.
Whether you had a tumultuous childhood growing up or came from a seemingly loving family, you’re still likely to have suffered from a childhood abandonment wound. Most people have them.
Examples of Circumstances Leading to Childhood Abandonment Wounds:
- A parent leaves or passes away
- A parent is physically there, but emotionally unavailable. This can be related to a parent not allowing emotional expression, or the parent being unable to offer emotional support (ie., due to illness, etc.)
- Being adopted (having never met the parent or having been separated at a young age)
- The child having a health complication separating them from the parent (ie., hospitalization or surgery)
- A parent takes a trip or sends the child somewhere without knowing why
- Parents going through contentious divorce, remarriage, or infidelity
- The adult betrays the child
How the Childhood Abandonment Wound Relates to Romantic Relationships
When we feel deprived of feeling loved, seen, understood, and accepted as children, the wound remains unhealed. Unconsciously, we go looking for that love from other people in adulthood. In doing so, we self-abandon trying to fill a void.
This may look like:
- Rushing into commitment with someone we don’t know yet
- Ignoring red flags in relationships
- Pretending to be someone we are not
- Breaking our boundaries to keep love
- Saying yes when we want to say no
- People-pleasing over honoring ourselves
The True Feelings Behind Childhood Abandonment Wounds
The root of our behaviors with an unhealed abandonment wound is our inner child wanting to be seen.
When we actually check in, our inner child might feel scared, rejected, abandoned, hurt, suppressed, controlled, unseen, unimportant, not enough, too much, etc.
After we recognize our feelings, we can then learn to reparent ourselves so that we can take care of our needs and get to the root cause.
Only we do this work for ourselves, individually. No one else can do this for us.
The Three Ways Childhood Abandonment Shows Up in Romantic Relationships
Aiyana calls these the three abandonment archetypes.
The Love Chaser: wanting to keep love at all costs, this type chases emotionally unavailable partners. They may believe they can help heal someone or open their heart. They often create “imaginationships”, believing the relationship is more than what it actually is. In their unease of being alone, they tend to fall quickly for someone and race towards commitment.
- Their medicine: slow down, communicate directly, maintain balance between relationship and friends, engage in hobbies/interests
The Ultra-Independent: this type prides themselves in being really independent and strong, while struggling to ask for and accept help. They likely felt let down in their own childhood. They don’t let people in easily or share their emotions as readily. As a result, when they do make a connection, it can be hard to let go, even if the relationship is unhealthy.
- Their medicine: slowly let down their walls, ask for help, lean into friendships for support
The Over-Giver: this type believes that they have to work in order to earn love. They may have learned at an early age that they received more attention when they did well on something or performed in some way. This can translate to giving beyond their energetic means. Over-givers can become resentful and drained when they give past their limits.
- Their medicine: prioritize themselves, create balance, communicate their wants and needs
We may find ourselves embodying one or more archetypes throughout our lives.
It can be incredibly frustrating to cycle through any of the abandonment archetypes.
And please know, you are not alone!
The good news is, we can heal our abandonment wound.
Healing our abandonment wound does not mean erasing the wound from ever happening, but rather, increasing our awareness of the wound and tending to it lovingly when it arises.
How to Heal the Abandonment Wound:
- Rebuild a connection with your inner child: listen to your inner child for what feelings or fears are coming up in that moment. Identify any unhealed pain. You can then embody the mature adult who listens and feels with them. And reassures them. This can be the way out of panic, reactivity, and an anxious state.
- Feel all your feelings: allow all of your feelings to come up, with curiosity and openness, rather than judgment. Most of us learned to suppress our feelings out of embarrassment, ridicule, or self-protection in childhood. The best way to heal unprocessed emotions is to feel them.
- Get into your body: check in with your breath and your body. This helps you to move from a state of reactivity towards a calmer response. This also allows you to slow down and see what your body needs. Alternatively, if you need to get up and move, you can try trauma-informed yoga, walking, going into nature, or dancing.
- Learn how to set and maintain boundaries!: An activated abandonment wound might cause you to seek out love and validation through any means. Every time you set a boundary, you have made a commitment to yourself. That’s huge. Learning to commit to yourself will help you to tend to your needs first.
- Ask for Help: this allows others to show up for you. You’d be surprised how many people actually want to support you! If you struggle here, try opening yourself up to asking a close friend or loved one for help, then learn to expand to other people as needed.
- Know that you are worthy of love: you are lovable whether you are happy, sad, or anything in between. You do not have to be anything other than yourself to be loved. You do not have to “bend” to make yourself lovable.
- Remain committed to your hobbies, interests, and core values: the relationship you have to yourself is the most important one. It is the basis for the relationship you have with other people. Committing to your hobbies and interests helps to honor the unique individual that you are. And staying true to your core values makes you authentic and helps to attract more authenticity into your life.
Remember, almost everyone has a childhood abandonment wound! The best we can do is acknowledge it and work with it.
I hope you realize you are worthy of healthy and secure relationships! I hope you find these tools and tips helpful! I found this topic deeply interesting and wanted to share.
Y’all have a magical and wildly abundant week! Sending one thousand hugs!
“ Our wound may trick us into believing that if we can get the avoidant person to commit, or the emotionally distant person to love us - it will confirm our worth. The only way to confirm our worth, is to stop chasing people and start setting boundaries for who we want to allow in our lives” - Sheleana Aiyana, founder of Rising Woman
- Aiyana, Sheleanna. Becoming the One: Heal Your Past, Transform Your Relationship Patterns, and Come Home to Yourself. Chronicle Prism: 2022.
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