Abandonment Hurts

Abandonment and abuse go together, because abusers use abandonment as a weapon.
~"If you don't allow me to treat you however I want, behave however I want toward you, then I will retaliate and punish you with abandonment; I will take away the most important thing, which is human connection. And I will twist everything around to make it seem like the abandonment was your fault for "misbehaving". I am Higher Status than you, and therefore entitled to treat you however I want, and if you protest, you will be abandoned and ostracized. And to prove how High Status I am and how Low Status you are, you will see that no one stands up for you."

(Most people who use abandonment and ostracism as a weapon learned it in childhood, either by watching it being done to others by adults in their lives, or being done to themselves, so there is a little room for compassion for someone who does this. But compassion does not equal allowing.)

WHY does it work?!
Why does it work on us, even when we know what's going on?!
Why do we feel the pain of abandonment, when the person doing the abandoning is only doing it for reasons of bullying, and we know it?

It works because we are human beings, and we are supposed to have human connection, it's part of our make-up. Abandonment causes pain just like anything else causes pain, no matter who is doing it, or why. If we burn ourselves on the stove, it hurts just the same as if we burn ourselves at a campfire. Certain things hurt, regardless of how they happened.

When someone does something to cause us pain on purpose, then there is the added pain of that, of being purposely hurt by someone we cared about. If we get kicked accidentally in a soccer game, it hurts physically, but if we get kicked by someone on purpose, there is naturally more feeling attached to the basic pain from the kick.

Our brain goes on automatic alert when someone uses abandonment and ostracism as a bully tactic. Our brain is our security system, and it knows much more about human behavior than we do consciously. When we are abandoned or ostracized, if our brains are in working order, it switches focus to protection of the self, and to figuring out what's going on.

Protection of the self is the brain's highest priority, and it already knows many possible reasons why a person would be abandoned, and what the many possible dangers could be.

When we are abandoned, our brain goes on alert because it knows we have just lost an apparent ally. Allies protect us from danger, whether we live in a city surrounded by potential criminals, or in the outback wilderness surrounded by potential predators. Allies rescue us FROM danger as well. Allies also help us out of day to day problems, as we do for them, and give us a feeling of security, just by being available in case something should happen.

Other people being aware that we HAVE allies keeps gossip, slander, and sabotage at bay, much, much more than most people realize. When others see a person as belonging to a group of allies, they are much more likely to treat them with respect, because they see the person not just as one sole social reject, vulnerable and easy prey... but as one of many, one of a crowd who will protect that person.

The kid who sat alone at lunch was the kid who was picked on, BY the kids who traveled in packs. The woman at the bar alone is the one who gets stared at, and the one a predatory jerk will approach first. Two parents are treated with more respect by school staff than a single parent. Politicians surround themselves with VISIBLE "allies" purposely, so the world sees them as "likeable" and "respected". Celebrity "image makers" create facades of having a larger fan base than they really do in order to get attention and respect from onlookers. Business people even often create facades of having more people working for them. Lots of businesses are named things like "Two Brothers" or "Five Guys" or "Merry Maids" or "H&R Block" or "McKinney & Son", all implying that there are more than one. A group, a concordance, an ALLIANCE. You can "buy" friends on MySpace and other social networks to make you look more popular, if that didn't matter then no one would do it, never mind pay for it. If you look up law practices, you will find hundreds of firms listing multiple partners as the "name" of their practice. Even medical professionals have taken up the habit of practicing WITH allies, other doctors, veterinarians, and psychologists.

EVERYTHING is easier and better if one has ALLIES, and if the world SEES YOU as having ALLIES.

Nearly every human brain is subconsciously aware of this fact, because that's how we evolved. We are group animals, and our subconscious instincts compel us to live within the safety of a group.

SO, abusers USE this natural, normal compulsion to belong and to keep connections we have made as a weapon AGAINST other people, to keep them in control.

This is also a big reason why so many people treat "Free Spirits" and "Free Thinkers" like they're crazy, rogue, or loose cannons; they are upset and frightened by a member of the larger group who seems to be unafraid of losing their status of Belonging by not conforming to whatever the current Status Quo is.

ALSO~ Allies are our friends; they make the connections with us that make good times happen. We are subconsciously aware of this, even if we don't think about it consciously. When we feel the sting of abandonment, we also automatically feel the pain of loss. The loss of a friend. Even when the person was abusive more often than not, the good times registered as "Friend" in our subconscious.

And... when someone is using abandonment to punish us, our brains are also aware that this person is not trustworthy or loyal, and has the definite potential of actively trying to get OTHER people to abandon us as well. This is a real FEAR that can be triggered in our brains, because group/social animals like us are in immediate danger when we are left alone in the wilderness. To understand this, we can picture ourselves as a member of a small tribe, not all that long ago. If our tribe abandons us, exiles us, we literally are alone in the wilderness, surrounded by predators, all kinds of biting insects and parasites, and exposed to the elements. Humans don't have fur, so exposure is a real problem for us. Abruptly having to survive on our own means actual imminent danger for any human, even the "toughest". We have to find our own food every day, cover ourselves every day, sleep (how, where, without getting bitten or attacked?), keep warm every day, drink fresh and uncontaminated water every day. We have to make our own fire, and keep it burning, all by ourselves. All this, and no one to help, no one to watch our backs, no one to talk to.

Our brain is also aware, even if we are not, even if we refuse to admit it, that this kind of total abandonment happens even in the most sophisticated cities, in the wealthiest countries. It can, in fact, happen to anyone. Even if we don't believe it consciously, our subconscious knows that it's possible.

So, even when the person who is using abandonment as a weapon is someone we thought we didn't want to deal with anymore, our subconscious feels the sting, the loss, and the automated fear response. That's why it hurts, and that's why it works on us, even when we're aware of what is really happening. The good news is, the more awareness we have, the less it will work on us, and the easier it will be to recover from the effects.

~~~ An important sidenote regarding the perception of abandonment~ those of us human beings with certain emotional dysregulation "disorders", can perceive that someone is abandoning us, when they are actually not; we really need to spend time taking apart what the other person is actually doing. Sometimes we feel like we are being abandoned by people who are behaving perfectly normally, often due to things that have happened to us in the past. For example, going to work is not abandonment, spending time with other friends sometimes is not abandonment; needing space to work on something is not abandonment. Not wanting to eat at a certain time, or food that was prepared, is not abandonment. Turning down an invitation occasionally is not abandonment. Having to go do other things is not abandonment, being on the phone with other people is not abandonment. Having success in one's career or aspiration is not abandonment either.  
We can figure out what abandonment is and what it is not, with a few tools we can learn to use, and calm information gathering.
ALSO, upholding one's healthy boundaries against abusive, inconsiderate, deceitful, demanding, demeaning or controlling language and behavior is not abandonment.

The following links may help to find ways to understand what abandonment is and what it's not, and why we may not know the difference. A good therapist, counselor, or healer can also help in sorting this out.





by M.M.Black