Aspects of Adult Child Abandonment


Abandonment, each a primal and common worry, is an involuntary response that happens when a toddler’s plug is pulled from his dad and mom or main caregivers early in life, making a deep, penetrating emotional wound. Cumulative and progressive, it establishes a set off, which ignites all of his earlier losses, uncertainties, and disappointments, and is linked to the very trauma of his beginning. It results in grownup little one worry of abandonment.


The “Grownup Kids of Alcoholics” textbook (World Service Group, 2006, p. 162) defines abandonment as “a way of loss, being left, pushed out, forgotten, minimized, betrayed, (and) feeling susceptible. Misplaced at sea.”

Abandonment impacts the soul, which is organized because the self in bodily type. As a result of it shares the identical origin and want for connection, unity, and love as all others, that connection creates a sense of wholeness past its autonomy and any disconnection manifests itself as a loss. When skilled early in life, it turns into traumatizing.

“Connection is a primary human want,” in line with Amanda Rowett’s “7 Most Widespread Abandonment Points Signs” article. “Infants are hardwired to connect to their main caregivers. The kid’s survival fully depends upon (them) and, if his wants should not met, it creates a excessive degree of tension. When youngsters expertise ongoing losses with out the psychological and bodily security they want, they internalize worry. Abandonment is a toddler’s most predominant worry. If youngsters are unable to type safe attachments, and if insecurities are left unaddressed, abandonment wounds can severely influence grownup functioning and interpersonal relationships.”

This situation, which is integral to and attribute of the grownup little one syndrome, originates as a result of dysfunctional, unstable, unavailable, alcoholic, and abusive dad and mom bodily and emotionally abandon a toddler throughout his very earliest days of life, failing to completely or typically even adequately present his defending, nurturing, dietary, emotional, monetary, role-modeling, and mirroring wants. Devoid of instruments, he’s compelled to dig deep inside himself for sources and capabilities he doesn’t have, sparking that abandonment worry.

Abandonment could be actual or perceived and each bodily and emotional, however is created by absent, distant, dysfunctional, addicted, poor, and unavailable, in entire or partly, dad and mom or main caregivers.

“(A toddler’s) dad and mom have been meant to be there for him within the ways in which he couldn’t but be there for himself,” I wrote in an earlier article, “Can a Dad or mum Abandon a Baby With out Ever Leaving his Aspect” (EzineArticles, June 28, 2014), “however from this absence comes an emotional void with which he should negotiate life.”


Though youngsters should not consciously conscious of the consequences abandonment has on them, it adjustments the course of their growth, impresses their brains with imprints, is internalized to the diploma of disgrace for what they consider they’re, leaves cavernous holes of their souls, hinders their capability to type safe grownup attachments, breeds mistrust, and may stay an unresolved trauma, all offered it isn’t addressed. As a core situation, it manifests itself as a sense of inequality, unworthiness, an incapacity to depend on others, loneliness, and pervasive unsafety.


Due to abandonment’s core complexity, it manifests itself in a sequence of signs.

The primary of those is persistent insecurity. Abandonment, in a toddler’s undeveloped thoughts and fragile emotional state, has nothing to do together with his dad and mom, whom he considers excellent, flawless, and God-equivalent, he causes. As an alternative, he believes it’s the results of his personal lack of worth. He thinks that he’s an individual not value devoting time and a spotlight to, and consequently accepts the accountability and burden for the deficiency and unreliability of his caregivers.

“What do you say to a toddler when he’s crying out for his dad and you already know that he’s selfishly lacking in motion… ,” poses T. Nicole Taylor in “I Need My Daddy: The Psychology of Abandonment” (Amazon, 2014, p. 14). “It could be a lot simpler simply to say he died, as a result of, in actuality, his absence is like loss of life. As an alternative of managing a short lived emotional loss, the kid is tormented with an ongoing ache and feels misplaced when he’s deserted.”

One other symptom is an individual’s tendency to re-enact a trauma. As famous, late habit restoration counselor and creator John Bradshaw as soon as wrote, “When you do not know your historical past, you are doomed to repeat it,” whereas Freud himself thought-about a trauma a “repetition compulsion.”

Since a toddler fails to grasp the explanations behind his abandonment and may solely settle for his flawed, unlovable, unworthiness for it, he re-experiences his abandonment traumas, totally anticipating them from adults, even in his mature years.

Rejected, undesirable, and insufficiently beloved, such an individual feels pervasively unworthy, which is one other symptom. The kid as soon as once more accepts accountability for the abandonment.

“At a sure level all of us have requested the query: why am I right here? Why me,” continues Taylor (ibid, p. 43). “This query could also be most prevalent once you’re questioning why the opposite half that made you does not need something to do with you and also you assume: is it one thing I did? One thing I mentioned? Is it the way in which I look? Is his absence as a result of he needs I by no means existed?”

Foster care, I emphasised in my “Can a Dad or mum Abandon a Baby with out Ever Leaving his Aspect” article (op. cit.) hardly improves the scenario. “Like grains of sand blown by the wind, such youngsters shift by the foster care system, by no means feeling linked to or beloved by an grownup who cares,” I wrote. “Nothing blares the message of ‘I am nugatory’ greater than these circumstances.”

Elevated emotional sensitivity is one more symptom of abandonment. As a result of it leaves an imprint on the mind, its wounds are simply restimulated, if not altogether retriggered, leaving the particular person hypersensitive for the actions, phrases, and circumstances that do. They will embrace criticism, marginalization, exclusion, dismissal, and rejection, sparking a regression to the essential growth interval once they have been sustained. As soon as once more powerless and tool-devoid, the particular person re-experiences the identical traumatic sensation as an grownup that he as soon as did as a toddler.

Emotionally hijacked, he’s once more sufferer to the primitive, mind stem-located amygdala, which, seamlessly functioning with the hippocampus, secretes a flood of fight-or-flight making ready stress hormones into his system. Severed from his path to reasoning and rationality, positioned within the mind’s higher, cerebral cortex, he’s returned to the time of his authentic trauma, as if no time has elapsed.

Unable to depend on adults for defense, nurturing, and primary wants, for sure, breeds mistrust, which is one more abandonment symptom. One of the best predictor of future habits is previous habits. If a toddler has been proven that he can not rely upon his caregivers to satisfy his bodily, emotional, psychological, financial, and non secular wants, he enters the world-at-large with the identical expectations, distrusting that others will.

Left to dig deep inside himself to satisfy his personal wants, he could turn out to be autonomously self-sufficient, disconnecting from others and dwelling one of many Grownup Kids of Alcoholics survival traits-namely. “We’ve got an overdeveloped sense of accountability and it’s simpler for us to be involved with others reasonably than with ourselves.”

Whereas emotional temper swings, nonetheless one other symptom of abandonment, could not completely point out such a core situation, it’s a sturdy indicator of its existence. Like a pendulum, the particular person could swing between the extremes of hypervigilance for the subsequent sudden departure of somebody and dissociation to counteract the emotionally risky and dysregulated state this anticipation creates.

Tripping the circuit on his authentic wound, the actions and statements of others trigger him to obsess, overanalyze, and interpret their significance. A turndown of an invite to have dinner, for example, could indicate that the opposite particular person is busy to somebody with out such wounds, however to an grownup little one it might be interpreted as an expression of his valuelessness, as in “I am not vital sufficient for him to offer me his time.”

Different signs, that are additionally not unique to abandonment, embrace insecurity, melancholy, self-underestimation, avoidance of intimacy, separation anxiousness, clinginess, tolerance of mistreatment, and jealousy.


There are two broad causes of abandonment.

Lack of bodily presence, the primary, entails the partial or complete absence of caregiver presence due to one or lots of the following causes: extreme profession devotion, frequent enterprise journeys, divorce, insufficient or nonexistent visitation, basic absence, being left alone with older siblings or a babysitter, placement in daycare or foster care, or loss of life.

The second trigger, a failure to offer a toddler’s nurturing, emotional, non secular, and/or protecting wants, outcomes from a mum or dad’s personal unresolved childhood points, neglect, emotional unavailability, a bodily ailing state, shaming, rejection, belittlement, criticism, habit, and psychological sickness.


“Abandonment can take many varieties,” in line with the “Grownup Kids of Alcoholics” textbook (op. cit., p. 11). “One type is so simple as the mum or dad leaving the kid alone with out returning. Or it may possibly contain parental perfectionism through which a toddler’s habits by no means measures up. Dad and mom abandon their youngsters once they fail to reward or acknowledge a toddler’s true effort to please (them). As an alternative, most dad and mom are fast to criticize and proper a toddler’s habits, however hardly ever discover time to reward the kid or to construct confidence for good selections.”

Bodily abandonment, one among these many varieties, leaves, like all others, a scar on the kid’s psyche.

“When a mum or dad leaves a toddler with none rationalization concerning why, the sensation of rejection can start to tear away at (his) personal self-worth,” in line with Taylor (op. cit., p. 14). “In conditions when the absent mum or dad is persistently inconsistent, this may trigger confusion, distrust, and in babies separation anxiousness.”

Many different, maybe extra refined, abandonment varieties thwart wholesome growth and influence the institution of confidence and shallowness, together with the suppression of happiness and expression; withholding applicable reward, validation, and love; insufficient acknowledgment and mirroring of a kid’s emotions; the implication that he shouldn’t have wants and needs; shifting the burden and blame to him; and shaming him. All of them echo the unwritten, unstated grownup little one guidelines of “do not’ discuss, do not belief, (and) do not feel.”

Just like a financial institution, a toddler’s feelings could be enhanced by way of optimistic deposits or diminished by way of unfavorable withdrawals. Withholds, that are neither, depart him frozen and nonetheless awaiting the anticipated, however by no means obtained parental reward and validation.

“To disgrace a toddler is to desert the kid,” advises the “Grownup Kids of Alcoholics” textbook (op. cit., p. 168). “A mum or dad can disgrace and abandon a toddler with out ever leaving the room, as a result of a shamed little one feels unlovable and alone on a deep degree.”

This kind is barely a step faraway from the precise bodily sort, however is simply as detrimental.

“Having the ability to present in your little one is vital, however spending high quality time and being a visual position mannequin… is value greater than any sum of money one might obtain,” in line with Taylor (op. cit., pp 22-23). “Sadly, some males would reasonably stroll away than present the enriching worth of their time and a spotlight to their little one.”

Different abandonment varieties contain relegating a toddler to an grownup position by holding him accountable for what’s inappropriate for his age, involving him in grownup points, and utilizing him for a mum or dad’s personal wants and price, akin to viewing him as a surrogate partner.

Abandonment breeds codependence, a illness of misplaced selfhood that prompts the particular person to plug into others to really feel entire.

“The soul rupture is the abandonment by our dad and mom or caregivers,” advises the “Grownup Kids of Alcoholics” textbook (ibid, p. 60). “The abandonment units us up for a lifetime of wanting outward for love and security that by no means comes. The codependence of the grownup little one from the alcoholic or nonalcoholic home is the supply and results in the identical lack of self.”

Regularly chewing on the essential inside voice, such an individual finally ends up experiencing the final word kind of abandonment-of himself-perpetuating his authentic abandonment wound.


Abandonment, for sure, each manifests itself in and sabotages relationships, however it may possibly additionally come up from later-life conditions, akin to spousal separation, divorce, and loss of life. Due to this and early childhood experiences, the particular person’s unresolved wounds floor in quite a few, not-necessarily comprehensible methods, as his core situation primes him for the abrupt departure of his or her accomplice.

Indicators and signs embrace the worry of intimacy, because the extra seamless the connection, the larger would be the worry of the anticipated rejection; manipulating a accomplice to remain, however remaining self-protective; making an attempt to keep away from abandonment by management and extreme clinging; loneliness, regardless of the presence of one other; the shortcoming to determine wholesome boundaries, leading to codependence; the delusion that the particular person does probably not want anybody, which is “counter-dependency;;” and low-grade anxiousness, fatigue, and melancholy, that are unresolved childhood fears that floor in grownup relationships. Together with the latter are the unchallenged core beliefs that the particular person will inevitably be deserted due to his unworthiness and unloveaiblity. He doesn’t consider that he deserves the connection.

Regardless of the shortage of logic, such an individual may very well appeal to a broken, emotionally unavailable, and addicted accomplice who sustains the identical wounds and is subsequently himself unable to enter into real, intimate relationships.

Something however wholesome, they will entail levels of distrust, insecurity, management, dominance, the giving of all by one that isn’t reciprocated by the opposite, and the shortcoming to emotionally connect, as every operates from his authentic abandonment rupture. The efforts and power expended are expressed by one other of the Grownup Kids of Alcoholics survival traits, which states, “We’re dependent personalities who’re fearful of abonnement and can do something to carry on to a relationship so as to not expertise painful abandonment emotions, which we obtained from dwelling with sick individuals who have been by no means there emotionally for us.”

Susan Anderson, who taught the “Abandonment Trauma and Patterns of Self-Sabotage” Course at Stony Brook College in Stony Brook, New York, on November 2, 2018, captured this dynamic with the time period “abandoholism,” a post-traumatic repetition compulsion that causes an individual to draw an unavailable different.

So extreme can the worry of one other leaving turn out to be, that the particular person abandons the connection himself in a self-protective effort to keep away from his deep childhood hurts, very a lot within the “I am going to get you earlier than you get me” vein.


Abandonment, above all, is trauma. It’s not a single occasion, however a sustained, episodic, and cumulative one characterised by repetitive connection-disconnection conditioning. As a wound to the self, it shops its sensations within the amygdala. The creating self incorporates the disgrace of powerlessness. Disgrace itself triggers unresolved anger, panic, and worry, making a self-sustaining, momentum-gathering cycle, which builds upon the earlier one, rising in depth.

Utilizing a metaphor, Anderson (ibid) describes the disgrace part of abandonment trauma.

“The vein of disgrace lies deep inside the self. Our uncooked pulsating abandonment nerve is deeply veined with this disgrace. Simply nicked, (it’s) pierced by tiny ducts of harm, sending toxins into the system, oozing subliminal valleys of ‘not-worthiness.’ This infected nerve can throb, turn out to be systemic, and may result in inhibition, a insecurity, efficiency anxiousness, underachievement, and intimacy points. (It) results in post-traumatic behaviors and computerized defenses. Disgrace does not burst: it seeps and resupplies.”

Just like post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD), it establishes an computerized, reflexive response. If an individual’s mum or dad traumatized him, he expects the identical remedy from others. Primed for fight-or-flight response, he turns into emotionally dysregulated.

“The abandonment nerve, tinged with disgrace, can twinge once we really feel barely dissed, criticized, excluded, ignored, misunderstood, missed, condescend to, unappreciated, taken with no consideration, not chosen, or not reciprocated with,” Anderson explains (ibid). “Abandonment trauma results in heightened emotional responses to triggers by emotional conditioning, repetitive self-sabotaging behavioral patterns, and computerized defenses that turn out to be maladaptive habits.”


Abandonment, particularly to an grownup little one, is the equal of a mum or dad who guarantees to catch him when he jumps off of a excessive step, however walks manner earlier than he hits the bottom, leaving a gap within the ground and the one in his soul.

Though patterns outcome from unresolved incidents akin to these, they fail to impede post-traumatic self-sabotage impulses, as a result of resistance originates from the psychological options which can be imbedded within the mind construction.

An individual can not assume his manner out of his abandonment wounds, however standard remedy gives and promotes his emotional consciousness of them, enabling him to re-feel the harm and vacancy that ooze from them and stroll and work by them till they’re sutured.

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