How to Stop These Feelings of Abandonment and Shame

by Denis O'Connor
(Limerick Ireland)

I write this today as I have had enough of these feelings. I am 30 years old and have been dealing with these feelings all of my life. I am looking for a rational solution and I am struggling at this.

When I was three my mother spiraled into a world of depression (bi-polar) after loosing her mother (cancer) and father (traffic accident) over two years. She spent the next 10 years in and out of mental institutes and was also addicted to the prescribed drug ativan. My father was and is still a closed book and I'm guessing he had issue about another male in the house. He also had this thing that if I didn't show interest in what he liked I disliked him (I avoid the relationship now).

My home life consisted of constant arguing and emotional abuse - if you did something good, you where like you mothers people and if you did something right you were like your father people. We were used as pawns in their internal war.

I hated being at home and went anywhere but home. I never received any discipline as my dad was working and my mother was in bed depressed. Our uncle was always at our house and is an alcoholic, which my mother didn't care about how this affected us; still a consistent issue between us.

I was always crap at school as I never had to do school work. I have had to learn of the basic thing myself and also found out that I'm dyslexic at 28 as I'm now in college. I am hugely effected by external events and have no confidence, always questioning my decisions.

Even though my home life was and is still crap, I would get over it if I could just stop feeling like this. I'm currently in a relationship that I need to get out of but I'm so scared of the feelings that I will have to face that I am staying in it. I feel like a coward. I feel I'm at a bridge that is broken and I want to get to the other side but I don't know how.

Also I have been diagnosed with Adult ADHD in the last year.

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Nov 23, 2009
A Healing Process
by: Don Carter

Hi Denis, welcome to recovery! I have considered your question on how to stop these feelings... The best answer I can give you is to remember that these feelings of abandonment & shame are the result of a wounding process.

This means you have been emotionally injured -- and just like any other injury, it will take time and treatment to heal. Time alone won't do it -- You need to treat the wounds or they will fester and grow.

Some of the other responders to your question have shared some things they do to treat their wounds and help them heal. Take what you need and leave the rest. We are all unique and what works for one does not necessarily work for another.

A suggestion I will add to what has already been said is that sometimes we find a way to medicate our pain without treating the wounds -- such as drinking, drugs, sex, drama, etc. It would be good for you to look at any compulsive & addictive things you do in order to escape the pain without actually treating it.

Medicating pain away only masks it. If you were to mask physical pain with medicine, without finding out what is causing the pain, you would likely make things worse. The same is true here.

If you are self-medicating start by getting help with that first. Otherwise anytime you start to deal with your pain, you will have to fall back on what you know -- more self-medication.

I hope you ask a lot of questions and continue your conversations here! I look forward to hearing from you.


Nov 22, 2009
You Have Started
by: Brenda

Denis, Thanks for posting. I can relate with so much of your experiences with abandonment and shame and the frustration of not knowing how to stop the feelings. I was conceived from an affair my mother had with a married man. It was kept a secret from me and I grew up thinking I had the same father as my older brothers and sisters (who by the way had absolutely nothing to do with them in the way of existing in their life or in the way of financial support-thinking I was unwanted by him too).

My mom continued this extra-marital affair with my dad until I was about 18. He remained married and shuffled back and forth between my family and his other family (off and on months at a time). I had finally figured it out when I was about 10 or 12 that he was my dad. However, because it was kept a secret from me, I continued to carry on the big bad secret and was not able to acknowledge him as my father until I was about 30.

My Dad died when I was 31. The consequence has been a very deep feeling of shame, abandonment, poor self esteem, inferiority complex and a sense of never fitting in anywhere. You are much further ahead of the game at 30 than I was. At that time in my life I just accepted this as my life history, stuffing the fear, anger, and shame and not understanding why things didn't feel right (denial).

I feel you are well on your way to getting over the feelings of shame and abandonment just by realizing that as the source of your insecurities. Acknowledging the feelings, professing the pain of the shame and abandonment, and grieving your lost childhood is all part of the healing process. Another aid in the healing process is to become your own loving parent that you never had. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery.

Nov 22, 2009
My Suggestions
by: mxkx

There are several things you can do right now to aid in speeding up your recovery. One is reading recovery related material such as what you find here. Another is seeing a therapist that is experienced in treating patients from dysfunctional families such as a psychotherapist.

Another is getting involved with Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families.

Personally I have found combining all three to be the most effective, but the biggest factors in a speedy recovery I believe are determination and dedication. As you start on the road to recovery you will start realizing all kinds of things you can do to aid yourself even more than just the things that are suggested to you.

For example, right now I am making collages from magazine clippings (helps me listen to my inner child clearly) and have gotten started on yoga (self soothing). They're not traditional therapies but they really help me.

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