Series

Life Traps | Pt. 23: Roots of my Fear of abandonment

Posted by Maria

In this post, I would like to take a moment to inspect one of the core aspects of my Borderline Personality Disorder: the fear of abandonment. I’m headed into a section of the book (Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen) that talks about self-fulfilling prophecies, and before going into it I felt like needed to address this topic. The fear of abandonment is the core of my troubles, the beating heart of my BPD.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains talk of suicide, abuse, and more. 

The Unpopular Kid

It all started way back in grade school when I was switching from grade 6 to 7. At that time I must’ve been around 11 or 12 years old. I was a part of a group of girls through the first years of my schooling, and so it was a big blow when I had to say my farewells. Well, I didn’t even get to say them, the pack of hyenas that would become my bullies for the last 3 grades before high school was not so keen on goodbyes. 

Why did I do it then? Partially because of my own volition, and partially because I was kicked out, dubbed a bad friend as I dared fall into one of my first panics and failed to be there with the rest of the pack to console my then best friend that had locked herself in the bathroom, crying. All I remember is the shoes in the hallway where I was curled up, sitting in a fetal position, thinking about how none of these bitches knew that the friend back there had previously cut herself with a bread knife and explained to her guardians that she had had a cabinet fall on her. Shoes, so many shoes in the darkness. And the cold air blowing under the front door.

I was never particularly liked in that group since it consisted of far more privileged people than me. The leader was a strong, adventurous type that ended up cornering me one night and grabbing me by my collar, spewing threats that made no sense. Sometimes I was sort of like an enforcer, keeping the entitled posh princess from trying to cause havoc with her rampaging. The group pressure was immense, but I managed to prevail and keep some of my values. I did not take the smokes offered to us by an older boy in the night. Neither did I taste the hooch that one of our peers had smuggled into her house and hid in her closet, away from the parents prying eyes. I had no desire to be a part of any of it.

Sister and separation

After (or simultaneously, it’s all very blurry) my pack kicking me out, it was time for my parents to separate. My then dear sister had vanished into the ether of time and space, running around town and eventually moving away to study in a different city. The connection between siblings was broken the day one of us became ‘’an adult’’. The days of having her there to console me when I felt the world was unfair had ended long ago.

It doesn’t come as a surprise when I say that not having anyone there to support me and to talk to me when the time came for my parents to split was terrible. One night I went to bed, woke up to my father crying (I don’t recall what my mother was doing), and then everything fades to black after I see them on the couch and hear my father’s final words and the song in the background. In the morning he was gone. Poof. No more father. Just a crying mother in the night. 

I was a child, and the separation came so suddenly. Much like my friends and sister, I was once again alone. Out of the blue, utterly alone, without an explanation as to why it had to be like that. I couldn’t go to my mother, she was in immense pain and it wouldn’t have been cool to bother her more. So, for many nights before the sobbing stopped, I laid in my bed and listened, shedding my own tears while I was at it. It may have been the next morning, or the one after that, when I woke up and had my very first proper psychotic episode. 

I swear I heard voices, a friend of my father’s, outside calling all our names. One after the other. A white car parked near the building I lived in. It was terrifying. I think I called my father, and he came to my rescue. It’s the only time I remember him hugging me like that, his broken daughter in need of protection. I treasure that memory, for it is the only one I have. Gone are the days of shelter with family.

Cheating boyfriends

My first boyfriend was one year older than me. You can imagine how that turned out (spoilers, I married a man from another continent). An older, prettier, and dare I say way less reserved girl took my place, I just wish I didn’t have to be on our last date. Maria, at the age of 8, learned what it means to be replaceable. With my tiny heart broken I still managed to move on.

Later on, in my teen years, I had a long-distance boyfriend, and a slew of other acquaintances, that also ended up cheating on me. Long-distance things are not very sustainable, as I’ve learned later in life. All of these rejections combined with somewhat of an absent father and the fact I did not have anyone to talk to about my pains, led me into a spiral of darkness that nearly took my life. I prayed, I still remember the exact words of that prayer as I was on the floor of my room, crying. I need a miracle, God, and I need it before the end of the year. If I do not get it, I will die.

Turns out my miracle wouldn’t come till some 15 years later, but I took the earlier bait tossed at me, reaching for life with the last of my strength. I entered a relationship with a man 8 years older than me at the age of 16 and witnessed him cheat on me, gossip badly about me, and taking advantage of my fragile mental state (I’m telling you, the world was magical when I still believed that there is a dragon in the skies watching over me and that the person next to me communes with the dead and Gods alike).

Emotional abandonment in childhood and adult life

Now, I’m not blaming anyone, and quite frankly I understand – when you are torn apart from a lifelong partner with whom you had two children, it’s not easy. It’s understandable that for a while you wouldn’t be able to quite be there for anyone but yourself as you process. Yet, as an 11-12-year-old child, I couldn’t fathom the darkness I was tossed into. The swirling abyss of emotional torment that I was going through.

Emotions were not addressed much in my childhood. I can’t remember my parents having arguments, nor can I recall them having tender, loving moments either. I’ve talked with my husband about a plethora of things in my life, and I was shocked to find out that that’s not a good thing. What do you mean my parents never fighting or loving isn’t a good thing? Or them doing pretty much everything under the sun separately? There is another way to have a relationship? Scandalous!

The very few encounters with my parent’s more intense emotions are pretty much not ideal. The bursts of frustration and anger that lead to a closet door being torn off or a glass smashed into the table so it breaks to a billion bits. The sudden realization that my father can indeed cry and feel something. The fear of having lost my keys being enforced as the proper response. 

Unfortunately, the bad relationship I had only made my beliefs worse. The neglect of my emotional needs and the constant fear of punishment manifested in the daily regime of being left alone with my self-destructive behavior. The lack of support from both the ex-boyfriend and the snappy demands to get a grip from my estranged sibling brought me to a place where the life I had once hoped to grasp slipped away and the world faded to grey. For such a long while, I did not want to live. It was just not worth it. 

I’m glad I held on.

How do I perceive things?

As you can all deduct from me pondering endlessly upon my miserable existence, I’m doing much better nowadays. That doesn’t mean the shadow of abandonment is gone, I actually think it may never truly go away. Its tendrils will keep clawing at me whenever I am weakened and triggered, causing behaviors that I am so desperately trying to fix.

I’m working on understanding that when someone raises their voice in frustration, that doesn’t mean that all is lost. I’m trying to get a grasp on the fact that when someone walks away from me, that doesn’t always mean they are walking away for good. People turning their backs on me, taking a step back, doesn’t mean that I am abandoned on the spot. And when my husband has a bad day for whatever reason under the sun, and he is quieter than usual, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me anymore. 

I see threats in my life constantly, and exhaustion became my normality. Sometimes I curse the living shit out of my disorder for it. I curse the people that wronged me and left me by myself in the darkness. I curse myself for being too weak and vulnerable. And then I stop cursing. Because it turns out, this was my cross to bear. My hurdle to figure out. Understanding the pain of merely existing will give me the strength I need in order to make a difference in the world.  

Have your shadows brought you strength? Let us know in the comments!


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