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“What happens when people leave?
They leave a gaping hole in your heart
It burns with loneliness and emptiness
Till everything turns into ash
And what do you do with that ash?
You keep it within you
As a memory of what was but shall never be.”
What is this fear of abandonment?
A simple definition states that it’s a fear that people will leave you. Yet, there is nothing simple about it.
Rooted in scars and hurts of being left alone at the most vulnerable moments of our lives, this is an excruciatingly painful and crippling fear to live with.
Sometimes I wish we had a switch off button inside of us.
Then we could simply switch off these fears and insecurities that raise their heads every now and then and destabilize us, break us in ways that we end up being scattered all over.
Sadly, there isn’t. Then is there something that we can do?
At times, there is nothing that we can do except let this fear of being abandoned just wash over us and drench us completely. We have to let it consume us, leave us heavy until we can find it in ourselves to move ahead again.
What is so unique about this fear? I mean people are constantly moving in and out of lives, aren’t they? After all, it’s a reality that we all have to live with, don’t we?
Well, the thing about this fear of being abandoned is that it’s not just about people leaving.
It is about the fear that if we get attached to certain people with whom we feel a sense of connection and they leave for any reason, it will strip us of a sense of meaning that comes with that connection, and that is painful as hell.
It’s about losing that sense of identity and purpose that we associate certain people with—those people with whom we take the risk of being vulnerable with and opening the most fragile parts of us.
What if they leave?
What will be left of us?
We will just turn into a pile of rubble, won’t we?
And this is not just a fear.
It is rooted in the trauma of being abandoned at our most vulnerable moments whether in childhood or even as adults.
This fear of being abandoned, of being left alone or cast aside, throws us into this pit of darkness where we feel that our existence doesn’t matter all. If the one who was supposed to stay with us throughout just decides to get up and walk off, what’s left?
Rather, what’s left of us? Broken, abandoned pieces that we struggle to put together.
For some people, their entire life goes by just living with this fear. Sometimes they realise it, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, they’re always walking on egg shells.
And abandonment isn’t always about someone physically leaving our space. It also means being abandoned emotionally—being left unheard, unseen, and unacknowledged when we needed this emotional holding the most. That hurts just as much. Perhaps, sometimes the most.
“And what if – what are you if the people who are supposed to love you can leave you like you’re nothing?” ~ Elizabeth Scott
How do we know if we are operating from this crippling fear? Here are some signs:
1. You have perfectionistic tendencies. You want to get everything right, make sure that everyone around you is happy and satisfied with your efforts just so that they have good enough reasons to stay with you.
2. You are overly sensitive to criticism. Any negative remark, mindless comment, critical feedback pushes you to the edge because it automatically means that something is wrong with you; you’re not living up to standards. Therefore, there’s nothing special in you and people can easily leave you.
3. You have a hard time trusting others. After all, what if they leave? You’ll have to bear the pain of being alone, and you don’t want that.
4. You refuse to commit. Your fear of being rejected and left alone keeps you in your shell. If you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t have to take the risk of getting close to someone only to have them leave, right?
5. You will go to any lengths to please people around you. You are ready to make all kinds of sacrifices, go out of your way to please people just so that you can keep giving them reasons to stay.
6. You continue to stay in unhealthy relationships. It feels safer to at least have someone around even if it’s making you miserable!
7. Intense separation anxiety. Just the thought of being away from your emotional anchor can send you down a rabbit hole.
8. You are constantly trying to prove your worth. If you don’t, then why would anyone stay with you?
9. Trying to control people and relationships. The fear of being abandoned can make us tighten our grip on our relationships and that itself becomes the irony. The tighter you hold, the more they slip away. Thus, converting our fears into reality.
10. You tend to blame yourself a lot. After all, someone has to bear the brunt, and who better than you? In this manner, there is still something that you can do to fix or amend things and ensure that the other person doesn’t leave.
Even though we don’t want the fears that become a part of our emotional world, the responsibility to manage and heal them always lies with us.
Perhaps, we can’t just do away with them, but we can always start from where we are.
The fact is that those who truly love and care for us will always stay. They don’t need any transactions to convince them to be a part of our lives. Those who aren’t meant for us will leave no matter what we do.
And making people stay in our lives at the cost of our own self is far higher than what we could ever imagine. Our relationships need to be nurturing and fulfilling and not extracting. In genuine, authentic relationships, there is no need to prove or please. We simply flow in them.
It’s up to us to find that courage and the inner voice that says, “I’m worth it” and “I will get the relationships that I truly deserve” and ” I deserve what’s meant for my highest good.”
“You didn’t choose abandonment. It happened to you. It feels like everything has been taken away from you. However, what you do have is the choice to heal.” ~ Anonymous