I have counseled individuals, couples, families and business
partners for the past 35 years and authored eight published
books. Every individual I've worked with has had some
abandonment wound to heal, and most relationship problems
stem from abandonment wounds.
It is not possible to grow up in our society without some
abandonment wounds. The following are some of the ways it
Being torn away from mother at birth and put into a nursery.
Being left to cry in a crib or playpen.
Being given up for adoption or being left in foster care.
Being physically and/or sexually abused.
Being emotionally abused - ignored, yelled at, shamed.
Being pushed aside at the birth of a new sibling.
Having a parent or caregiver who is emotionally unavailable.
Being unseen or misunderstood by parents or other
Being lied to.
Being unprotected by a parent or caregiver.
Being left alone in a hospital during an illness.
Losing a beloved parent or grandparent at a very young age.
Being teased or left out with siblings or peers.
Being ridiculed by a teacher.
Being forgotten - not being picked up from school or other
Being left at a young age to care for oneself, a parent, or other
When we are deeply wounded at a young age, we cannot handle
the pain, so we find ways to dissociate from the intense feelings.
Then, later in life, especially when we fall in love, these old
wounds can get activated. Our beloved gets angry, withdraws,
gives attention to someone else, says mean things, doesn't tell
the truth, doesn't stand up for us, comes home late, wanders
away in a crowded public place, misunderstands us, and so on -
and suddenly the pain that has been pushed aside all these
years comes roaring to the surface. We think that we are reacting
to the present situation, but what is really happening is that the
old, unhealed abandonment wound has been touched off. We
might find ourselves suddenly enraged or falling apart with
intense tears. Our reaction seems too big for the situation, yet
we cannot seem to stop the inner pain. We might start to shake
violently as the old terror finally erupts.
We want our beloved to take the pain away by stopping his or her
behavior. If only he or she would not do the thing that activates
these feelings, we would be fine. Yet until we actually heal these
old, deep wounds, we will not be fine. We will always be
vulnerable to having these wounds activated.
Healing the abandonment wounds does not happen overnight,
yet it does not have to take years either. Step one is to tune into
your feelings with a willingness to take responsibility for your
pain. Once you are aware that deep pain has been activated,
seek the help of someone who can hold you and nurture you
while you go into the abandonment pain. If no one is available,
hold a doll, bear or pillow, and bring in love to the hurting part of
you. Open to your concept of God or Spirit and allow this source
of love and strength to nurture you.
It is often not advisable to seek the help of the person who
activated the wound because:
1) he or she may still be stuck in their own wounded place, the
place that touched off your wound;
2) you might become dependent upon your beloved taking care
of you and taking the pain away instead of actually healing the
Once you are with a safe, nurturing person, or even on the phone
with a safe person, hold a doll or bear or even a pillow very tightly
and breath into the pain. Open to learning and allow the Inner
Child who is in pain to give you information about the original
pain that is still stuck in the body. The body holds the memories
that you repressed at the time, and now the body is releasing
these memories. Many images may come up as you open to
learning with your Inner Child. Be sure you have your spiritual
guidance with you, holding you, surrounding you with love and
comfort as you open to learning about this deep pain. In order to
truly understand your present reaction, you need to understand
what happened to you when you were little. Keep breathing
deeply and allowing your Inner Child to inform you, even if you
are crying. Tell the person helping you what your Child is telling
you about what happened to you when you were little. It may take
awhile, but gradually you will calm down. At that point, tune into
what false beliefs you may have embraced as a child that are
affecting you now, and what else your Child needs right now to
feel loved and safe.
Being there for your wounded child this way will gradually heal
the abandonment wounds. Ignoring your feelings, trying to make
them go away, or trying to get someone else to take them away
will only serve to re-wound you. It is only when you no longer
abandon yourself that the old wounds begin to heal. Eventually,
another's behavior that previously triggered your intense reaction
will no longer do so. You may feel sad or lonely when a loved
one gets angry or withdraws in some way, but as long as you
continue to show up for yourself, the intense pain will not be
If the pain seems stuck in the body no matter what you do, then
you need to seek out a practitioner who knows how to release
old pain out of the body through acupressure or other bodywork.
Once these old wounds are healing, you will feel a new sense of
personal power. Others' behavior can no longer trigger you into
these intensely painful feelings. However, a word of caution: we
may think it is healed, only to discover another level when we
move into a more intimate relationship, or more intimacy with a
present partner. The closer the relationship, the deeper the
wounds get activated. That is why the primary relationship is the
most powerful arena for healing there is, and Inner Bonding - the
process outlined here - is a most powerful tool! (See resource
box for a FREE Inner Bonding course).
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of
eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By
You?", "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?",
"Healing Your Aloneness","Inner Bonding", and "Do I Have To
Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?" Visit her web site for a FREE
Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org