Abandonment in Childhood
There are people who stay in life and people, who go. Sometimes, it’s our mothers who can’t be there for us.
Being abandoned at birth or later on in childhood by your own mother is one of the most devastating experiences you might be forced to go through. Being physically or emotionally neglected by your mother for whatever reason, on a short or long term basis, may have a lasting effect on you until you are able to understand why your mother made the choices she did.
Daughters who have been abandoned by their mothers, or who have a perception of being rejected, may go on to form an ‘ideal’ of a wonderful mother who they have never met, in the hope that one day they will be re-united with an auspicious and loving mother image.
Frequently living on false hopes and dreams which do not come to fruition, the search for mother love can be a painful one. Many daughters in this situation have shared with me that they have so many unanswered questions. They don’t know who their mother is in relation to themselves.
If we don't know our mothers, as daughters we are often left with so many unanswered questions:
Who was she?
What was/is she like?
Where is she now?
Why did she leave?
I will pose these further questions, in addition to the above:
Who am I?
What’s wrong with me?
What did I do wrong?
Why didn’t she love me?
Why didn’t she want me?
What could I have done to make her keep me?
For daughters whose mothers leave through physical or emotional abandonment (rather than death), may feel rejected and worthless. Some daughters may suffer from depressive symptoms - a sense of emptiness, lack of empathy for others and without addressing these symptoms, they may go on to form addictions and have problems with expressing anger or become over angry because they are unable to mourn the loss of their mother.
When a mother dies naturally, it is somehow easier for the daughter to understand as this was beyond the control of mother or daughter. Both examples of loss involve the grieving process, which may last for a few years or, for daughters whose mothers are alive but unavailable, the grieving can last a lifetime.
It is worth noting at this point that unless we actually know our mother’s story and what led her to the choices she made, we do not have full understanding. We are imagining stories which may have no truth, stories we tell ourselves can be hurtful and mean we always feel abandoned. When mothers choose to have their baby daughter adopted because they think they cannot give her a good start in life, this could be regarded as an act of love rather than rejection.
Birth mothers choose life, and a family, for their child. But this choice is rarely celebrated. Women routinely face family, friends and even health-care providers who think that adoption equals abandonment, according to researchers and conversations from birth mothers - Nina Easton
If you have the belief that you have been abandoned by your mother you might imagine you have something fundamentally wrong with you. Your thinking gets stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, impacting your relationships and life generally. Once you begin to understand your mother’s reasons for adoption (for instance, allowing another family to raise you because she is not able to mother you) you can begin to rebuild your identity on firmer foundations.
In my work and the information shared from the case studies included in Mothers and Daughters: The guide to understanding and transforming the relationship with your mother it is clear mothers left their daughters emotionally or physically because they could not bond with them or they could not provide for them. Some young mothers were forced by their parents to give their child up as was the case of one daughter I worked with, who fell pregnant under the age of 16.
Daughters who have been abandoned (or feel they have been) can suffer low self- esteem and fear of rejection. They carry around the idea they are flawed or something is wrong with them and the belief they are unworthy of love. Abandoned daughters may also endure verbal and/or physical violence in relationships rather than end the relationship and feel alone.
Ponder the following questions in relation to your experience, making notes of any emotions which surface as you read through.
For those of you who have been abandoned by your mothers how does this influence your ability to trust others?
How stable do you feel in your capacity to form positive and lasting relationships?
How often do you find yourself being overly responsible for others and in doing so neglect your own needs?
How able are you to discern and make distinctions of when abandonment is real or when it’s a memory of rejection being re-triggered?
In what areas of your life are you unable to say no and create healthy boundaries with others?
How often do you find yourself putting up with poor behaviour in relationships for fear of desertion?
How frequently do you find yourself fearing abandonment or rejection in friendships and relationships?
In what situations do you most need someone to rescue you?
What emotions have you freely expressed to your mother or others in relation to being abandoned?
What emotions linger for you that would benefit from expression in order to heal your wounds?
How well have you coped with other losses in your life?
How easy do you find it to ask for help and support?
In what circumstances do you find yourself wanting to control a situation in order to feel safe and secure?
When have you ended a relationship because of your fear of being left, you leave first?
Knowing it is possible to move beyond fear of abandonment, imagine how your life will be different when you have resolved your fear?
What inner resources do you already have to overcome your fear of abandonment?
What additional resources might you need in addition to the above?
Sally’s Words of Wisdom (case study)
‘‘Although my mother never abandoned me in the physical sense, I never felt noticed by her in comparison to my sisters. She never showed me affection or offered me emotional support. When it came to making decisions or celebrating my achievements she wasn’t able to guide me or offer any praise. I felt abandoned by her because I never felt loved.’’
Whatever emotions you might find yourself experiencing as a result of your loss or feeling abandoned, rejected or unloved, you will be able to find comfort using the specially recorded guided meditations
EFT ( Emotional Freedom Technique) is also a great technique to learn and release the emotional charge from your past experiences in relation to your mother. If you'd like to know more about EFT and experience this wonderful technique to help you heal the hurt places within I offer a ninety minute consultation to discuss you needs and work out a programme of support.
Taking the time to work through your emotions using the processes shared will not only support you now as an adult it will also offer the child inside you the solace, love and comfort needed.
Please do make contact when you're ready to move on from the past and live your life knowing who you are is so worth loving regardless of your experiences with your mother.
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