Experiencing the Abandonment Code
By Deanne Kaye
I was raised in a household where abandonment was prevalent, but the repercussions of it weren’t spoken of or felt. My father died in a swimming accident when I was 6. The shock of that was so great for my mother that she suffered for years with that trauma and wasn’t emotionally available for my older sister and I. In retrospect, on the day of my father’s death, we really lost 2 parents. Not knowing how to handle the trauma, mother sent us to school the next day and got rid of all his clothes. His body wasn’t found until 3 months later and we were given recognition in the local paper for his heroic attempt to save a drowning boy in the strong undertow of Lake Michigan.
This and other dysfunctional episodes throughout my childhood impacted me so deeply that as a teenager I was caught between thoughts of suicide or shamefully and secretly seeking help in therapy. Therapy gave some relief which also led to various endeavours of more healing throughout a good part of my life. During this journey, I kept seeing a reoccurring theme of abandonment underlying the problems and complexes that came up. It was playing out in the relationships I had and communities I was part of. I saw how widespread and deeply embedded this issue was with so many people. I would find myself saying to them, “Wow, you make my childhood look like it wasn’t so bad! Do you still keep in contact with those who did that to you?” Often times the answer was: “Yes. What choice do I have? They are family.”
Out of the different kinds of healing work I’ve done over the years, I owe a lot of my recovery to joining 12 Step Anon programs in 2000 and taking up meditation and yoga in 1994. Most of us have heard of AA for Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also a plethora of other addictions out there using the 12 Step model of recovery such as Sexaholics, Gamblers, Overeaters, Shoppers, and Gamers Anonymous to name just a handful. I attended meetings for those who are in a relationship to an addict from our past or in our present. The meetings focus on becoming free from the struggle of us trying to control an addict’s addiction and behaviour. The sobriety of another person is not our responsibility. Through written work suggested in 12 Step, we are shown how to let go of years of resentments and anger held towards others, and feel the pain of powerlessness over the behavior of others doing or not doing what we want them to do. I felt such a release when I finally grasped on a deep level that I was just responsible for my own thoughts, feelings and behaviour. If I want a person to be in my life, I need to love them as they are, and if the relationship is not mutually loving and supportive, I must be able to see the stark reality of the situation and find the courage to leave them for the sake of my own sanity. In addition, my years of meditation have allowed for a sense of spaciousness to expand within me over time. I can listen more easily to my intuitive guidance and hear, feel and visualize what a person is expressing if they can’t recognize it themselves.
Both of these practices gave me, as well as my ex-husband, a huge amount of healing around our acquired unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving, as well as provided a strong foundation for raising our children. We had a common goal during our marriage that we would give our children a better life than we had had. Our children learned the practice of not holding resentments, setting healthy boundaries, communicating their needs and limitations, and seeking help to find a way out of pain. We had discussions around feelings and concerns, and clarified options for working them through. No doubt we did give them a better life than ours. But they still picked up on some of our lingering wounds of shame, unworthiness and abandonment. It was unavoidable when wounding runs deep. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that as adults they know how to help themselves and others in a healthier way than we did at their age.
Once our kids were independent and I was ready to leave my marriage and community involvements behind, I decided in the spring of 2021 to pack up my car and head west to feel more independence and freedom by working on farms in exchange for room and board. I wanted to connect with people who were not believing in the mainstream narrative around the virus, and I also wanted to find others more like me who knew about living a healthy and balanced kind of lifestyle. I definitely found others who did not believe the mainstream coercion. But disappointingly, after having stayed at 10 different farms, I haven’t found others who know of healthy ways for living a balanced lifestyle so as not to create more drama and stress. I’ve continued to meet people stuck in situations where they showed some main signs around abandonment including the 3 Cs of: co-dependency, chaos and control. Co-dependency of staying in relationships that are tense, competitive and reactive. Yet normalized through complaining that they don’t have options. Chaos in daily lives full of things to do, do, do, that often times seem very petty or plausible for not being done that day. And then control over people, places and things. This has been especially prevalent in women. “There is never enough time in the day to do everything” is the expression I’ve often heard, rather than realizing it’s really not so important to polish the appliances, talk to everyone that calls, pick up more branches that fell outside or put everything away in the kitchen perfectly before going to bed. They have been major fixers of the problems in the home, family and community at the expense of their own body, mind and emotions. Being a control freak is such a common thing for us women, that it’s no wonder the majority of people in the 12 step Anon groups are women. Simply using time to just BE seems beyond reach, let alone simplifying our life or downsizing. We could greatly benefit from developing these norms, but when we come from households of abuse, neglect and not feeling valued, we no doubt have to compensate from a deep sense of loss and disconnection. So I have seen that whether in a city or the countryside, emotional stress and compulsive behaviours are alive and well in us human beings. It has really been sad and discouraging, but also something that has motivated me into further exploration. Some pieces of the puzzle have come together while exploring our stolen history. Over the past few years, I’ve delved into learning about orphans, orphan trains and World Fairs, which were basically about trafficking, selling or giving away children in the early to mid-1800s after the last reset. We didn’t learn the truth around this in history class! What a fascinating and disturbing thing this has been and clearly demonstrates to me how abandonment would have been passed down from generation to generation. In my next article, I will be exploring this part of our history as it relates to abandonment in greater detail.
Healing the deep seeded wound of the 3 Cs and abandonment isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a necessary part of the healing process. Our emotional wounds are embedded in us and the anguish of this pain is crucial for introspection and release. I owe my release and awakening to the healing I’ve done in my life; identifying, feeling and allowing the pain that I’ve stored in my body to BE. Life is somehow good at orchestrating situations that will bring these feelings to the surface when we become willing and open to heal. And with the help of a loving, present and trustful person to listen and guide us, I’ve seen it work for me and so many others. At times, I’ve felt I was witnessing the miracle of grace as someone shares their pain, shame and secrets in our space of loving acceptance and understanding. We are the ones who have to go through it without shortcuts. I haven’t found any as of yet unfortunately. How much we elevate our consciousness in the process of our awakening is directly linked to how much clearing we have done. And that clearing will be reflected in how we see the world. It can be like a place to fight and struggle for what is actually our natural birth rite. It can be a place where we continue to be oblivious and in unconscious denial to what is happening around us. Or it will be where we take the steps of diligent self-reflection and clearing to live a freer, more balanced and healthy life.
Deanne Kaye has been on the healing path for over 30 years. She has explored traditional and alternative ways for healing and has been helping others since 2015 become free from such emotions as abandonment, shame, guilt, anger, self-loathing, fear, resentments, addictions and anxiety. She provides experienced guidance, step by step work, meditation practices and a space of trust and presence for releasing unhealthy thoughts and emotions.
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