The fear of being abandoned

I love my boys so much, even if they do drive me to distraction 99% of the time. School term just went back, and I admit, as much as the peace is nice at home, I truly miss them! They do things wrong, they argue back, and they squabble endlessly, but that is part of being a child, at least, it should be.

Growing up, I was to be seen and not heard, I was not allowed to have feelings of my own, and if I had challenged an opinion, I would have been slapped or punished in some other way.

I also struggled deeply with feelings of abandonment, naturally. I was an abandoned child. It was a true rarity for the chance to go by where I wasn’t reminded of my worthlessness by someone in my family. I was so scared of being sent away that I would do almost anything to be as perfect as could be, as helpful as could be, and as lovable as could be, no matter what it cost me.

My mother’s go to punishment whenever I stepped out of my perfect line was to threaten me with being sent to a boarding school, or on occasion, an orphanage. It was the most terrifying of threats, being sent away from the only family I knew. In reality, it was an empty threat, looking back there is no way mother would have done that, or that dad would have let her.

While I am sure that my mother loved me in her own way, I primarily was there to make her look and feel good. To send a child away that earned you praise for your selfless care in raising her, a child that didn’t belong to you would have been the last thing she could have done. I also made her look like a perfect parent, as I was smart, pretty, and oh so very polite and agreeable. I was also her best friend, the one who adored and praised her constantly because that was what I knew she wanted and loved from me – that was the behavior that won her approval and approval was key.

But that threat, as empty as I know it is now, carved deep feelings of fear into my childish heart. Even now as an adult, in a loving and stable marriage, with 2 children of my own, and friends I cherish, I still constantly feel a dread that they will wake up one day and see the “true me” and leave. The fear of being abandoned or sent away is intense.

As I look at my own sweet children, I can never imagine threatening them with such things, telling them that they are unwanted because they confronted me with a different opinion, threatening to send them away because they argued.

Children need to do these things, it is frustrating as anything when they do it, but expressing themselves is how they learn to have self confidence, and where an opinion crosses the line into being rude or abusive. I learned to suppress all my “negative” emotions, to ever express them and to feel a great cloud of guilt when I felt them for fear of disappointing my mother, and being throw away like the garbage I was made to believe I was.

It is hard to look back now. As a mother I ache for the little girl that I was, I am determined to set a different example for my own children, to let them find healthy ways to feel their emotions and to never scar them by demanding that they live only to make me happy and look good.

5 thoughts on “The fear of being abandoned

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