Losing Others, Losing Me

Walking Through the Door

As I have struggled through some very dark days of trauma recovery, I have come to understand some universal laws that have helped make sense of my chaotic life.  The most basic law is that the inner child will recreate the challenges of the childhood until the challenges are resolved.  To the inner child, the perception of resolution may be very different from the adult’s logical brain.  But I have learned that the resolution can come in many forms.

For a sexual violence survivor, this law holds no more true than navigating the intimate relationships of adulthood.  Sometimes, this law is referred to as “women will always marry their father”.  But it manifests in other ways too.

This law would be easy to address if it wasn’t happening in the unconscious realm of our being.  Unfortunately, we rarely know we are recreating our childhood.  In the case of memory repression, it is worse because we don’t remember the events we are recreating.  Sounds like a losing battle, doesn’t it?

When I first reached adulthood, my self-esteem was non-existent.  I was convinced that I was not worthy of a partner who had the potential to love me or make me happy.  I was convinced of the opposite.  I was sure that the only partner for me was an abusive addict who would eventually leave.  Of course, all of these beliefs were unconscious.  In my conscious mind, I was convinced that I was deserving of a great partner.  Unfortunately, the unconscious ALWAYS wins.

And so began my series of painful, impossible relationships.  But never fear … my inner child had a plan.  I knew exactly how to avoid being abandoned or abused.  If there weren’t any guys who wanted me, I would just find guys who needed me.  I would find guys who could not hold a job, or could not find a better girl than me, or had no spine, or had the exact same issue with their self-esteem.  That sounded easy enough.  There were plenty of those guys.  And this wasn’t about love anyway.  I didn’t even know what love was.  My heart had gone missing when I was a young child.  This was about circumstances.  This was about logic.  This was about what would look good to the rest of the world.

But there was a problem with my plan.  I could not sustain a loveless relationship.  Sometimes, they left despite all my attempts to keep them around.  Sometimes, I could not contain my deep longing to find something more … a longing that surpassed all of my fearful attempts to play it safe.  Then one day, I actually woke up.  I realized that my life and relationships were eerily familiar.

During my awakening five years ago, I came to an understanding that my unconscious was running my life … and that unconscious was not happy.  These realizations started my journey through a series of memories that were so horrific, it was everything I could do to stay alive.  I slowly realized that my abusive, addicted partners of the past were a spitting image of the men in my family.  I just had not remembered them in that way.

But there was one question I could not resolve … the abandonment.  My father never left.  Honestly, I often prayed that he would.  The men in my family were not the type that left.  They were the type that stuck around until they sucked the life out of everyone around them … sometimes literally.  I just didn’t understand why I was faced with so much abandonment.  It didn’t make sense.

And then I remembered.  My unconscious was not trying to recreate my relationship with my father (not entirely).  Even a child’s mind can understand pure evil.  My unconscious was trying to recreate the relationship my would-be rescuer … the young college student who was supposed to remove me from my family madness.  I was expecting a savior, but instead he left for college.  My emotional reaction to the abandonment was so intense, that it provoked my memory repression.  It was in that moment that I choose to forget.

He did come back.  But it was too late.  I had already forgotten him.  The damage was done.

And so, with a deeper understanding of my unconscious abandonment struggles, I move down the scary road toward intimacy.  And I face a man with every reason to leave.  And I watch the fearful, unconscious thoughts as they pass through my head … the thoughts that can only be noticed through intense awareness.  “He will leave if he doesn’t like my kids.”  “He will leave because I have so much trauma to overcome.”  “He will leave if he doesn’t like where I live.”  “He will leave if he doesn’t like the way I look with no make-up.”  “He will leave if he doesn’t like my dog.”  “He will leave because he can.”  The list of doubts is endless.  And it is not based on an educated analysis of his character.  It is based on one historical fact.  I was abandoned when it counted most.

I have been a slave to abandonment for most of my life.  If I continue to feed these unconscious insecurities, I will fall into the trap once again.  I will become someone that I am not, in an attempt to keep someone around who may or may not like who I really am.  Of course, he can’t like who I am if he never knows who I am.

So I will work hard to stay me.  I will remind myself that, although abandonment may have destroyed my childhood, it can’t do that damage now.  There is only one thing worse than losing another.  It is losing me.


19 thoughts on “Losing Others, Losing Me

  1. I can relate to so much of this abandonment issues are a really big battle for me right now. I’m also realizing that although my father didn’t leave, he was never there for me and that’s abandonment too. I’ve been married 10 years and struggle with the fear of Hubby leaving even though I know he never would but then the fear goes to him dying and leaving me that way. I also will sabotage at times, on a subconscience level, so I’m making the choice. Having said that, I’m sorry you have this battle but I wish you all the joy and happiness that a good man and relationship have to offer. xo


    • Thank you Zoe. You are right. There are so many forms of abandonment. I was certainly abandoned by my parents through neglect as you were. I was abandoned physically also, but not by my parents. I do sometimes worry about death as well. It comes up for my children on occasion.


  2. This post is so well written, and I hope that should there be any dark times ahead (which I hope there wont be!), it will be one you`ll re-read to remind yourself that you will always have you.

    Thank you so much for sharing.


  3. The poor relationship choices sounds familiar, I never put it down to my childhood abuse, I just thought I was crap at choosing women! I knew they left because of my issues though.
    Very good post, I found it helpful.


  4. Elisabeth, WOW! What a story. What an excellent piece of writing. I’ve been a writer all my adult life and this piece you wrote is as good as I’ve read on any blog. I am so moved by not only your story, but your ability to convey it so eloquently and candidly. I’m not reading many blogs these days, much less writing posts on my blog. But I always look forward to see email notifications from “Trafficked”. I know I’ll be moved by your writing. You have such a unique voice when you tell your story. In some of the blogs I used to read by those recovering from abuse or some addiction. In their writing I can almost count on hearing emotions out of hand or a chip on their shoulder. But never from you. You write in such a voice that conveys your heart without malice or prejudice. You are objective, yet your writing reveals so much of who you are. You are a very good writer. Elisabeth and I look forward to reading every post. I believe anyone growing up in a similar environment or with the abandonment and sexual abuse issues you experienced could not help be moved and helped by your posts. Certainly many could identify with you. Since I met and became friends with Kerri Bishop Reece (Kerri Chronicles) I developed a heart for those with abuse issues. I want to help, or contribute to getting those stories before more readers. I don’t know how that will manifest itself and I’ve prayed for God to show me.how. I’m still going to send you links to my recovery story. We’ve been dealing with some horrendous family issues since November that have consumed a huge portion of my time and emotions. They will appear in your email inbox soon. In the mean time please know that I am a huge fan of you, your story and your blog. Love and intimacy are out there for you, Elisabeth. God has a wonderful plan for your life that is far more than you could dream or imagine. He has a wonderful man for you too, Elisabeth. I will be praying specifically for you and your healing. Also that you will find that loving intimacy God will provide for you. Here is a link to the website of another friend of mine. Her story of sexual addiction, drug addiction, prostitution, prison, and her life in recovery is fascinating. If you have time, you may enjoy reading her incredible story of deliverance from that life to one of serving God and others.
    http://lisakratzthomas.com. Her name is Lisa Kratz Thomas. May God richly bless you, Elisabeth. And thank you for sharing this story. You have touched my heart.


  5. Elisabeth, I appreciate this post a lot. It’s given voice to a lot of the same thoughts and feelings that I have had. I have felt so alone and have turned myself inside out for men a few times. I just wanted to be seen and loved. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. It came down to that old cheesy saying that you have to love yourself. I just really didn’t like myself or believe in myself. I appreciate that you became aware of the choices you were making and had an awakening. I had a similar experience. Overcoming your subconscious and working through it is difficult. I give you props. I enjoy reading your blog. It gives me hope and like I said, sometimes you voice my thoughts a little more eloquently than I could haha.


  6. Pingback: The Incredible Illusionist… Or Delusionist. Whichever You Prefer. | Gotta Get Up, Gotta Get Out

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