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Abandonment issues

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heforgotme posted 8/13/2013 06:19 AM

I believe that this is a problem for WH. Throughout our marriage, he has consistently and repeatedly talked about me leaving him. I did not intend to, nor was there any logical basis for this assumption (there were several points when it would have been very easy for me to do so). Nonetheless, I think this was his biggest fear.

So. My question for anyone who has any experience with this is this. Why, if his worst fear was for me to leave him, would he go do pretty much the only thing that would probably end with that result?? This I can't seem to wrap my head around. And what are the strategies for him to deal with/get over this? Are there ways I could help him?

Most of his issues are being addressed except for this one. I don't think he buys it. Not sure if he thinks it's "unmanly" or blameshifting (foo) or just doesn't agree. But I worry about it bc I think it was very central to the whole "You don't love me anymore...You will eventually leave me" mindset that he was immersed in during the A.

He knows now that this was a bunch of crap. However, I still don't feel like it's been effectively dealt with, which is worrisome.

Anybody have any insight???

rachelc posted 8/13/2013 06:22 AM

not sure I have any advice but that I'm currently dealing with this in IC.

heforgotme posted 8/13/2013 06:51 AM

not sure I have any advice but that I'm currently dealing with this in IC.

Have you found anything particularly useful? Do you know what types of things cause this?

AFrayedKnot posted 8/13/2013 06:53 AM

I had (have) huge abandonment issues. I am not sure where they stem from but being adopted is a pretty good guess. Through years of work on myself the abandonment issues seem to be the root of a lot of the problems throughout my life.

Causing harm to people in my life and forcing them out creates a sense of control. It is all subconscious and I didn't even know I was doing it.

After they left me I was able to blame myself. I caused them to leave. They did not leave me because they didn't love me or I wasn't good enough.

Some of it was also testing. How far can I push them and still have them want me in their life?

Again it was all subconscious. It had to be because it doesn't make any logical sense. With deep introspection the patterns became very apparent.

It is definitely an issue to explore in IC.

BaxtersBFF posted 8/13/2013 07:06 AM

Have you or your WH read "The Journey from Abandonment to Healing"? It might help him to see what he is dealing with.

After d-day and as R began I never really considered that this would have been an issue for me. There is nothing in my past which would lead me to believe it would be something that would be behind most of my decisions. But, like Chicho, it has been a subconscious part of most of my decisions. It was giving me a sense of control if I was the one to leave or end things or set up a situation where things would end. Whether they ended or not was the test and gave me some sense of security as to whether I believed the other person would abandon me or not.

It was something I never knew about until I started IC. Now it explains a lot. It's something that I deal with still. But at least now I know about it and can include that in thought process when I'm trying to navigate situations.

PhantomLimb posted 8/13/2013 07:29 AM

I think this plays a role in my D/S from WS... And it was the first reason he gave for his A ("I'm so messed up and difficult, I just knew that no matter where we landed in life, you would meet someone else and leave me"). Sure, some of that could have been blame shifting but, given that his Dad left when he was a young kid (and never looked back) and he continued to bring up examples of how he "knew" I would leave after DDay ("when your father asked me to clear my things out of the basement before we moved, I knew you all wanted to get rid of me")... I think it was real for him.

As he did with a former fiancé, my WS has walked away now and is not speaking to me. He was going to IC but I don't know if he's still going. I hope he is. He keeps hurting people who truly love him. I never would have left him. Now he's driven me so far away, I doubt I could ever take him back. He just took it so over the edge.

What I fear now is that *I* am going to take on this quality. I already feel myself thinking in those terms. I never saw WS's A coming in a million zillion years. And I loved him so unconditionally. If this could happen to us, nothing is safe. I don't think I'm ever going to be comfortable with believing people will stay and be faithful again. I already don't think I'm ever going to get married. I don't think that I'll ever relax in a future relationship.

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 7:31 AM, August 13th (Tuesday)]

rachelc posted 8/13/2013 07:36 AM

we just started. I was abandoned a lot, mostly by my parents, some by my husband... I 'll let you know as we progress.

GraceisGood posted 8/13/2013 08:14 AM

Why, if his worst fear was for me to leave him, would he go do pretty much the only thing that would probably end with that result??

I cannot speak for others, but for me, I know that I do things which push others away when deep down all I want is for them to hold me tight. My current understanding of this (because I may not have it nailed down yet, things always seem to change some over time and growth right?) is that I need "more" proof someone is commited to me, wants to be in my life, loves me fully, warts and all. So, if I push them away and they do not abandon then I am able to feel the commitment.

I see it as a cry for help, for assurance, etc. A sad and sorry way to try and get those things I admit.


plainpain posted 8/13/2013 08:18 AM

Wow, I so relate to this. What Chicho said really stuck.. for my H, I do think it is about control. I didn't leave him because he wasn't good enough - he forced me to (hypothetically). That makes a lot of sense, knowing what I know about my H now. Also maybe, 'I'll hurt you before you hurt me'. It feels like there was always something in him waiting for me to betray him, and it never, ever was on my radar to do that.

Thanks for posting the question.

nowiknow23 posted 8/13/2013 08:27 AM

Control, testing, self-sabotage - lots of places for this to come from. Gently, heforgotme, you can't help him on this one, especially if he doesn't buy that it's an issue for him.

cancuncrushed posted 8/13/2013 08:38 AM

I have abandonment issues. From childhood neglect, to first divorce, after 2 weeks, to my current H choosing to work in other states for 20 yrs. I do test, I do push away. Mostly, I accept, and withdraw. He also has issues. His father was career military, and was gone the first half of H life.(14) ANd came back and ran his home like boot camp. H went from neglect, abandonment to verbal emotional abuse. Never being good enough. In logic, you would think we would understand each other and love each other like no other. In reality, there is a void, nothing can fill. And bad choices reign. In typing this, I realize, H pushes me away, tests me. ANd caves when he feels like he is not good enough. Yet he causes it. Round and Round we go. ANd no, he is a mans man. WOuld never consider going for any advice or counseling. He would be afraid people would know. Being aware helps alot. Not a cure, but a step. is anybody normal?

Amazonia posted 8/13/2013 08:52 AM

creates a sense of control

I think this was it for my XH too. His mother abandoned him when he was an infant (just walked out one day when he was about six months old, told his dad she didn't want to be a mother anymore; also left her 8 year old daughter, XH's half sister, there with them (XH's dad is not this girl's father)). So XH definitely has abandonment issues.

I see it, in retrospect and after a lot of focus on it in IC to help me find my own closure, as a way of controlling the outcome. The known, even the unwanted known, is less scary than the unknown for many people. If your whole life is consumed with fear that someone will leave, it's easier to just cut the cord and walk away than to constantly live with that looming fear.

My XH has done this to several women, a few of whom I didn't find out about until I started talking to his/our friends after DDay. He'd told me he was single for two years before we got together; in reality he'd dated 3 women in that time, and pretty much "poofed" on all them right as they were seriously falling for him.

sailorgirl posted 8/13/2013 09:37 AM

Why, if his worst fear was for me to leave him, would he go do pretty much the only thing that would probably end with that result??

I have said this exact thing. I have asked my fWH. His answer, "I wasn't thinking straight."

One insight I have had is that since fWH felt deep down that I could abandon him, he didn't truly trust me. He felt that on some level, I would not be able to accept or love him. Then, he resented feeling insecure and unlovable, and he took some of that resentment out on me.

On a gut level, he felt like I didn't really desire him and my love was conditional. He was angry at me for that which made it easier for him to ignore my feelings and cheat.

Fear of abandonment seems to go hand-in-hand with low self-worth, and once fWH started cheating it was like his bad image of himself was confirmed. It was easier to continue going down the drain.

You would think that an insecure person who fears abandonment would do everything in their power to be a loving, wonderful spouse. But actually, damaged insecure people are incapable of behaving like a loving wonderful spouses! They're anxious, they have weak boundaries, they lash out when they're feeling unworthy, etc.

My fWH was abused and abandoned by both his parents. He is (finally and thoroughly) addressing this in IC. What is helping is admitting all the fear and hurt he felt as a child and letting it out in the open. He says that stuff doesn't have the same power when it's not a secret anymore.

The other thing is that he is realizing that it wasn't his fault. It wasn't personal. His parents would have abandoned any child they had (and did abandon his brothers) because they were so broken. It wasn't because fWH was unworthy of love. It was because his parents were alcoholics with no healthy coping skills.

That last part has an obvious parallel with infidelity. His parents abused him because they were messed-up. He cheated on me because he was messed-up. Damaged people are like hurricanes, sweeping up innocent bystanders. They have to figure out how to calm the storm.

I worry about it bc I think it was very central to the whole "You don't love me anymore...You will eventually leave me" mindset that he was immersed in during the A.

He knows now that this was a bunch of crap.

Yeah, well they can know that it's crap with their logical mind, but logic goes out the window when their insecurities get triggered. So, I think you're right that your H needs to address this!

PhantomLimb posted 8/13/2013 10:38 AM

sailorgirl, how did your H eventually come to see this and work on it?

plainpain posted 8/13/2013 10:52 AM

Wow, this is such a helpful thread for me. My husband never felt like I respected him, largely because he was always hiding huge dark parts of himself from me. He felt like I didn't know him, that I expected him to be someone he wasn't, that I wouldn't accept or respect the 'real' him. So he could never fully receive my love or my respect for him. He acted out of a place of feeling rejected.

Why are there sooooo many broken people? What are we doing wrong?

sailorgirl posted 8/13/2013 21:20 PM

sailorgirl, how did your H eventually come to see this and work on it?

I think there were a lot of factors, but maybe the bottom line is that although his childhood was awful, the core of fWH remained decent, honest and healthy. Somehow, the damage did not extend all the way in. (One of fWH's brothers is completely broken. He refuses to treat his mental illness, is a drug addict, can not hold down a job or any relationship, and will probably end up in jail or dead.)

Very luckily, fWH does not have a personality disorder, a mental illness, or an addiction. He is also a commitment and family oriented guy. Our marriage was actually very warm and happy pre- OW.

I had no idea that fWH had panic attacks about me leaving, or that he imagined that I wanted other men. He even saw my parents and sisters as a threat--that I would rather go home to them than stay with him . . . He believed that he didn't deserve me and that it would only be a matter of time until I realized that and left him.

Infidelity was rock bottom for fWH. From the minute he kissed OW, he fell apart, blamed me, abused me emotionally, and was absolutely miserable. He wanted to run, but he couldn't because deep down he knew that me and the kids are the best thing that ever happened to him.

By the time d-day came, fWH had figured out that he was having an affair that he didn't want because something was wrong with him. He was suicidal because OW had been threatening to tell me for a year and he was convinced that he would never see me or the kids again. When I stayed and held him while he cried and made an appointment for IC and did not hefty bag his shit, he was shocked.

Somehow, the walls that he built around all his insecurities came down, slowly but surely. Then he could see that I could only heal when he was honest. He knows now that the best moments for me are when he can drop his ego and really be vulnerable and himself.

But I have to say that some people who grew up with a similar childhood to fWH do not ever own their shit and leave a trail of hurt behind them. Then again, some get counseling and get themselves sorted out before they get married and they never cheat.

Why are there sooooo many broken people?

Maybe children are not as resilient as we think and mental health services are more crucial than we think.

PhantomLimb posted 8/13/2013 21:27 PM

He believed that he didn't deserve me and that it would only be a matter of time until I realized that and left him.

I got this. But he stayed in his job and, therefore, with OW. I envy that you have the chance to work on this together. I would have loved to.

sailorgirl posted 8/13/2013 22:58 PM


You know it was not that I somehow did something right. It was all on my H. Nothing I did made him capable and willing to R. It's all on them and I am sorry that your WS could not or would not face his damage. His huge loss. .

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