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Entries categorized "Couples"

Dumped! - Dealing with Loss and Abandonment

TIPS FROM THE QUEEN OF REJECTION®
August, 2007

IN THIS ISSUE
1. Dumped! - Dealing with Loss and Abandonment
2. Losses come in all shapes and sizes
3. Losing a chunk of childhood
4. Fearing another abandonment -– the most profound rejection fear
    of all
5. Fear of loss influences how we love
6. Tips - dealing with loss and abandonment
7. Contacting Elayne
8. Privacy Notice and Subscription Information


1. DUMPED! - DEALING WITH LOSS AND ABANDONMENT
    By Elayne Savage, Ph.D.

When I was a little girl, one day I was nestling in my father’s
lap. Feeling safe. Secure. Content.

Then, someone came into the room and he suddenly stood up. I went
tumbling to the floor.

What a shock to my system! So many confusing feelings: surprise,
disbelief, anger, embarrassment . . .and fear.

Just a moment earlier, I was feeling safe and secure. In an
instant my world changed. 

Looking back at that childhood experience with the
understanding of an adult, I can see that I felt abandoned and
betrayed by someone I trusted. I know this sounds dramatic, but
I do believe my ability to totally trust changed on that day.

I haven’t thought about that lap incident in many years. The
memory came flooding back recently when I received an email
breaking off a 3 1/2 year long distance relationship. It felt
like getting dumped on the floor all over again.

Even though he has since changed his mind about breaking up,
the email was a shock to my system. No wonder the memories of
that lap incident surfaced.

I started thinking about the impact that Rejection, Abandonment, Disappointment
and Loss can have on us.

2. LOSSES COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES

I’m especially aware how each new loss in the present can
bring up losses from the past. Even though they seem long
forgotten, they can pack a wallop:

- Losing friends,
- Losing loved ones
- Losing pets
- Losing jobs
- Losing recognition or promotions
- Losing prestige
- Losing face
- Losing self-esteem
- Losing expectations and illusions
- Losing dreams

There are other losses as well:

- Loss of support
- Loss of respect
- Loss of security
- Loss of vitality
- Loss of health
- Loss of lifestyle
- Loss of professional identity

There’s a different kind of loss in the sadness we feel in a
breakup of a relationship. All the energy that we put into
anticipation of a future with that person is gone – poof.

We find ourselves experiencing a huge loss: a loss of what
might have been. It leaves a big space in there.

And what about the little losses?

Most of us recognize the big-ticket losses in our lives: the
breakup of a relationship, the death of a loved one, and the
loss of a job. But what about all the little losses we
experience as well?

Too often we don’t give much importance to grieving these smaller
losses. We tend to minimize the loss and disappointment. We say 
to ourselves, “It’s no big deal, I can handle it.” Then we tuck away
our feelings and go about our life. Or someone says, “Get over it”
and we buy into that directive.

Trouble is, these losses, big and small, tend to stockpile. Then they
reappear whenever the next loss crosses our path.

Some of us have experienced more than our share of losses.
Maybe we moved from house to house, school district to school
district, town to town. Sometimes we couldn’t even say a proper
goodbye to treasured friends or teachers. 

3. LOSING A CHUNK OF CHILDHOOD

I lost a huge chunk of my childhood following the deaths of my
mother and grandmother in a Mason City, Iowa plane crash when I was 12 years old.
For the next several years I walked around in a haze.

Their deaths brought on full-fledged feelings of abandonment,
of course. There was no encouragement or support from family be sad
or to grieve.

I do know that in order to move on with our lives, we have to
make our losses real and grieve them.

Recently, these many decades later, I made a pilgrimage to a
DC-3 to properly grieve the loss of the lineage of women in
my family.

Perhaps one day soon I’ll write about it here.  Some of you have
heard me tell the story in my speaking programs.

Abandonment experiences and fears color our relationships in
profound ways, influencing how we interact with others and how
they interact with us.

4. FEARING  ANOTHER ABANDONMENT-THE MOST PROFOUND REJECTION
   FEAR OF ALL

In Breathing Room — Creating Space to Be a Couple (New
Harbinger) I write: “One woman has such a strong reaction
when a relationship ends that she sometimes finds herself
hyperventilating. It doesn’t seem to make any difference
which person ends the relationship.

“I feel as if I can’t get enough air into my lungs, as
if I can’t breathe,” she relates. “Sometimes I even think
I might die. Yes, I know it’s not just about the breakup.
I know that it’s related to my father dying when I was a
child. I just don’t do well at all when people leave me.
Every new ‘leaving’ feels like another death. I guess a part
of me dies, too.”

However, losses don’t have to be huge to feel like
abandonment.  Losing friends can feel like that. Losing
support. Losing recognition. Losing prestige. Losing
respect. Losing professional identity. 

5. FEAR OF LOSS INFLUENCES HOW WE LOVE

Certainly fear of loss influences how we love.

And again from Breathing Room: “Millie experienced such
fears, but she didn’t know it. She only knew how anxious
she got whenever she and her partner fought. So she dealt
with her fear by frequently threatening to leave her partner.
It was very controlling, to be sure—but what it really
controlled was her own anxiety about being left.”

6. TIPS - DEALING WITH LOSS AND ABANDONMENT

Abandonment fears are not easy to tame. It’s oh-so-easy
to catastrophize them, to let them spill over into
everything.  Unless you can keep them contained.

It’s important to put your losses in perspective.

•   Give a voice to your feelings.

•   Give yourself permission to be sad or angry (or even relieved.)

•   Remind yourself that this present loss is being
    influenced and affected by all of your past losses no
    matter how small they may seem.

•   Yes, you can actually speak to and calm the fears of
    that part of you that is the most upset—that child part
    of you

•   Can you visualize a container in which you keep your fears of
    loss and abandonment? What does it look like?

•   Find some creative ways to make your losses real and
    grieve them.

•   Let the part of you that knows how to deal with these
    setbacks lead the way for the part of you that is
    confused and floundering.

A few days before the 'Dear Elayne' email, I had suffered
another loss. A loss of feeling safe.  A homeless man
attacked my car while I was sitting in it. He threatened me
and made some good-sized dents in the car.

A friend reminded me that a dented car is not the same as
a dented heart. Yes, that is true. However, at the same
time, I know that I must honor both incidents as losses.
And both will have an affect on me for a long time to come.

Trite though it may sound, it helps me when I remind myself
that losses give me the opportunity to see things through
a different perspective. There's always something to learn
about life- when I choose to.

You may want to read Judith Viorst's classic, Necessary Losses.

© 2007 Elayne Savage, PhD

 

Elayne Savage is the author of books published in 9 languages.

To order DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! THE ART OF DEALING WITH REJECTION from Amazon:
amzn.to/2bEGDqu

To order BREATHING ROOM -- CREATING SPACE TO BE A COUPLE from Amazon:
amzn.to/2bAHmIL

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Elayne Savage, Ph.D. is a communication coach, professional
speaker, practicing psychotherapist and author. To find out
more about her programs, and services visit

http://www.QueenofRejection.com
or call 510-540-6230.

6. Contacting Elayne

I welcome your feedback as well as suggestions for topics you'd
like to see addressed in this e-letter.

Here's how you can reach me:

Elayne Savage
elayne@QueenofRejection.com
510-540-6230, 2607 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94708

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