Saturday, February 24, 2007

Abandonment Feelings

Much of human behavior is run unconsciously by the fear of abandonment.
Frankie Lane who died recently sang the High Noon song associated with the movie. “Do not forsake me oh my darling”. Frankie sang the song with such pathos that you felt alone just listening to the song. The song had a haunting experience of aloneness and isolation in the face of everything that was supposed to be good. “Do not forsake me oh my darling, on this our wedding day”. Ultimately this feeling runs human beings in the strangest of ways and we often act out these feelings without conscious control.

For example, the female astronaut who stalked a fellow astronaut and was arrested for her behavior was acting out abandonment feeling, without even understanding what she was doing. The media questioned the research NASA does when selecting such high powered people to explore space. They reasoned that psychological testing should have identified these bizarre behaviors she expressed ahead of time. But how can any psychological test predict the dark side of the abandonment feelings? They come when lest expected and can create bizarre behavior that is personally humiliating and even criminal as in the case of the female astronaut. Not only that, if we disqualify people when feelings of abandonment run amok, no one would ever achieve any high office anywhere. Certainly not politicians and religious leaders who have been publicly caught acting out their abandonment feelings having affairs with the most inappropriate people at the most inappropriate times.

Best to understand your dark side and know that we are all capable of acting out painful abandonment feelings. Ultimately they arise from being human. We are born without a clear purpose, without a real sense of belonging and we have to create family in the best way we can. If this is at all faulty in your past, when you least expect it, these feelings can create havoc in your life.

As a marriage and family therapist, I see these feelings expressed whenever the couple is at odds with each other and whenever they begin feeling lonely inside their marriage. Most affairs have their origin in these feelings, as sexuality is one of the prime addictions used by couples to salve the hurt that comes from the feelings of abandonment. If you have never felt alone inside an intimate relationship, perhaps you will not understand. In my experience most people feel totally alone from time to time, so if you have never recognized these feelings inside yourself, perhaps you are in denial about your unconscious mind and the tricks it is capable of playing.

Often sexual infidelity is blamed on drug and alcohol abuse. But under the mind-altering experience of wiping out your better sense of priority with drugs and alcohol, you will find the abandonment feeling lurking and waiting to create havoc. Handling the drug and alcohol abuse may be the first step in recovery, but ultimately if you are to understand yourself and exercise a measure of self-restraint, you will need to come to terms with abandonment feelings.

The Eastern philosophies tell us abandonment is an illusion. They say, we are all one; that we are all connected as a complete species. In their view, the illusion of being totally alone is the mind playing games within itself to darken the experience of living. If this philosophy is correct, then humans should never feel abandonment. But I have never met anyone who was self-observant who didn’t have a hard time from time to time dealing with feelings of abandonment.

Many young adults blame their parents for these feelings. They reason that because these feelings are so painful to cope with, there must be something mummy and daddy didn’t do that produced these feelings. Parents in our society are quick to criticize themselves, and often take on these guilt trips and then the feelings produce hurt and anguish within the family that if not understood can deaden the family spirit.

Truth is we all have these dark feelings to manage. Like greed, lust, jealousy, and the other negative feelings humans have to manage, these feelings can express themselves in self-destructive ways. To cope with the feelings it is best to look them straight in the eye. Do not run from them. Understand them. Learn how to manage them, and accept that all humans have feelings of isolation to deal with, and sometimes these feelings of isolation are hard and tough to cope with.

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