I am a 59 year old man who has abandonment issues. Years ago, I couldn't identify it. I knew something was amuck when I'd feel severe butterflies from people who wouldn't be there for me. Though I've had many of those times, one in particular stands out. I just bought my home and needed help from one of my friends (at the time). I needed help with home repairs and moving. He got caught up with other things and left me alone. Needless to say, I had words with him and he came to my rescue. I'll never forget the severe anxiety I felt.
Those abandonment issues sometimes play out in subtle ways. While I'm "on guard" most of the time; sometimes they're so subtle that they "gob-smack" me when I least expect it. Two examples stand out: 1) Years ago I decided to revisit Christmas. I use the word revisit since I DETEST Christmas and ALL the commercialism that comes with it. I don't have pleasant memories of that holiday since many of my relatives either got sick, or died, around it. As much as I've tried to heal that period, I'm still wounded
For this particular Xmas, I decided to clean the slate and start anew. I decided to have an "open house" and invite people to celebrate the holiday. The theme was "Sharing Your Gratitude." I thought a lot about this event. I'm big on "intention" and believed that if I Invited people to share their "gratefulness" that they'd leave with a renewed sense of the holiday and not get caught up in ALL the commercialism that comes with it. I invited 27 people. Since I live in a town home, I have to limit my guests. I hosted parties in the past and had to limit my list. When others heard of these parties, (and didn't receive an invite), they bitched LOUDLY. I decided to invite ALL those who I couldn't invite in the past.
What these people didn't know was that I always gave a thank you gift to those that attended. Since this was the "jingly period," I decided to incorporate an Xmas Gift to commemorate the season. Since I invited 27 people, I either made or bought gifts for the guests.
Diligently, I sent out invitations and requested people to R.S.V.P. Sadly, many of them didn't reply. I thought it best to still have the party since some might come at the last minute.
One person showed. She never attended one of my parties. She came and the 2 of us talked briefly about bullshit. She couldn't read my despair until it was time for her to leave. I took her up to my bedroom and told her to pick a "thank you for coming gift!" She picked out a home made afghan. Then the enormity hit her. Oh my God, you had gifts for all these people and I was the only one who came. I know you hate Christmas. Oh my God, you threw this party to change your pattern and no one came! Oh My God. I'm so sorry.
I grew silent and tried to fight back the tears. In an inaudible whisper I asked her if she would take some of the gifts home and give them away to whoever she wanted. She took 1 gift for her husband and asked me if I'd join her for a holiday party she was invited to. I went, thinking it would ease the hurt and despair I felt. It didn't.
The next day, I called my hair stylist and explained what happened. I asked her if I could drop off the 25 gifts that lay all over my bedroom.
That holiday went in S-L-O-W motion. I could not wait till it was fucking over. I was seething. I couldn't understand how so many people (who I thought were my friends) could've treated me this way.
2) Out of the 27 people invited, 3 were close teacher friends. We got together monthly for 14 years. I had never not gone to those get-togethers. I ALWAYS compromised my schedule to be with them. One teacher could never make it when we all agreed on a time. Inevitably, we ALWAYS met when it was convenient for her. I couldn't see it then, but I was Accepting Crumbs, when I wanted a spiritual meal.
After the Xmas fiasco, I took time to reevaluate these so called friends. I didn't see my part in it but I wanted to be with them so badly that I was giving away chunks of my time, and spirit. I didn't see how I needed to have a safeguard set up to stop the emotional abuse and abandonment pattern as it played out.
I eventually got strong and stopped going to our monthly get-togethers. When I declined the numerous offers, only 1 of these teachers asked me why. I told her that I didn't see my part in stopping a pattern/cycle that was hurting me emotionally and spiritually. Now that I had perspective, I had to be cautious with people who were unable to give to me, what I had given to them. Those 3 relationships died a SLOW death. I could not understand how these friends could NOT reach out to me and help heal and repair these friendships. I recognized that these people who I had trusted, never really had what I wanted from them. They were the "walking wounded" with their own abandonment issues. The difference between me and them, was that I saw the cycle and did something about it. They were oblivious to what they were doing and kept the cycle going.
It took me a while to forgive them for their unawareness. When I saw them out and about, I was civil and polite. I couldn't go back to the old me. By their reactions, I could tell that they were pissed and were holding a grudge. It was almost as if they wanted me to do their healing and do what they needed to do. This was a weird dynamic.
Just recently, I had a trigger. I began a new friendship with someone at my gym. My intention was to start anew. I wanted to move forward with my mistrust from the past. Sadly, I saw the abandonment pattern reappear. When I saw what was another cycle of anguish, I put a stop to it. It gob-smacked the other person but this time, I OWNED it. I told him that I deserved his time. He wasn't showing me that he was a person of integrity. If I had not stopped what clearly was a "red flag," I'd be back to accepting crumbs instead of a spiritual meal.
As a result of this experience I'm more cautious with people. I'm observing their behaviors and deciding whether their actions are speaking louder than their words.
Question for you: Are you currently settling for crumbs in your relationships? What are you doing to change the patterns?
Focus: Friendship, spirit, truth, integrity