Abandonment Recovery

“…[A father] walks [his daughter] across a log in the water and puts her high upon a rock jutting out in the stream.
‘You stay here while I go pick us some huckleberries for lunch,’ he says.
‘Don’t go far, Daddy,’ begs the little girl.
‘I won’t,’ he promises. He makes his way back across the log and into the forest as the little girl studies the back of his red shirt to keep track of him. He is momentarily hidden, first behind this tree and then behind that one. Suddently there is no sight of red at all. Perched atop the giant rock, the little girl begins calling to her daddy, hoping he is right nearby only teasing her.
‘Daddy, I’m here,’ she calls. ‘Daddy, where are you?’ But after a while she can’t hold back her terror. She screams into the forest with all her might. The forest remains silent.
As night falls, the little girl is frozen with fright on the cold, hard rock…
She has been abandoned.”

-The Abandonment Recovery Workbook by Susan Anderson, pg. 3

A topic I have not discussed in great detail is abandonment. The reason for that is simple: I didn’t think to write about it. At the beginning of recovery, my counselor was very subtle with me when it came to my issues. As topics arose, we would address them together and move on to the next. I eventually learned of the vicious cycle of love addiction and love avoidance. The knowledge that I had been living my life in such a pattern made me sick to my stomach. It was the motivation I needed to tackle my codependency and work hard at all costs to recover.

I went through the 12 steps of CoDa (Co-Dependents Anonymous), which took me about 8 months and then processed as much as I could of my love addiction. This past year has received the honor of becoming “The Year of Love Avoidance Recovery”. I was discussing some life ponderings with my counselor and she made the statement that if I didn’t work on my abandonment issues, I would not be able to let down the walls of my love avoidance.

That’s when some neurons started lighting up in my brain. I was like, wow. Why didn’t it occur to me sooner that if I wanted to work through my love avoidance that I should start with the root fear?

The excerpt at the beginning of this post is by Susan Anderson from her book called, The Abandonment Recovery Workbook. I heard about her on this podcast she came on as a guest. The way she described relationship withdrawal was so relatable that I was like, she gets it. I trust this woman. She experienced extreme betrayal through the ending of a long term relationship. It was through her own recovery that she formed positive exercises to heal from the wounds of abandonment.

What I really like about this workbook is that each chapter covers a problem and a positive solution. Many self help books give all the problems at the beginning and I never end up making it to the light at the end of the tunnel. The Abandonment Recovery Workbook has a good balance.

One issue with the workbook is that the questions, so far, have mainly focused on a recently ended relationship. So, if you’re working on parental abandonment or a form of abandonment outside of a romantic relationship, you may have to alter some of the questions a bit. Even though that’s the case, this workbook has brought some things to light that I don’t think I would have discovered without it. I am very grateful to Susan Anderson and the work she has done on this issue.

After the illustration of the little girl being abandoned by her father, Susan Anderson provides an exercise: Take a little break from reading this book and think about an experience in life that left you feeling as if you had been put on the rock. Describe. (Anderson, Pg. 7)

I challenge you to take her up on that exercise! The symptoms of abandonment play out in the mundane areas of our lives. You may be responding to life through your childhood experience of abandonment. It’s worth looking into.

Thanks for reading! Check out Susan Anderson’s book, The Abandonment Recovery Workbook on Amazon!

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