Coping with Abandonment
September 22, 2014
Coping with Abandonment


By Carmela Cattuti
author of Between the Cracks

We have all been abandoned in our lives. Whether it was through our parents' divorce, death of a parent, or our spouse leaving us, as human beings we are all familiar with the feeling. Sometimes we don't know where to go or what to do. We feel the earth has been pulled out from under our feet and we are dangling in space without an anchor.

The sadness and fear can be so over-whelming that we are at risk of falling into a depression. Some say that it is our perceptions of a situation that create the feeling of abandonment. If a parent dies in a car wreck they did not crash intentionally, it was an accident, but the emotions immediately interprets the incident as abandonment.

Here are four prevalent types of abandonment and how to deal with them from a place of power and growth.


  1. Physical
    When we're young and a parent dies suddenly there are layers of abandonment to sift through and if we are not aware then the gap left from the death is profound. Fear of people leaving us will run our lives, and in many cases, will cause people to actually leave. The tendency is to become anxious and afraid if a significant other or good friend does not want to be with us twenty-four hours a day. We try to fill the emotional hole with another person. The tendency here is for our significant other to actually leave so we can experience abandonment again until the wound is healed. The remedy is to connect with ourselves and process the initial trauma

  2. Emotional
    Emotional abandonment is subtler than physical desertion and affects our lives in indirect but insidious ways. It may prevent us from being who we truly are for fear that someone won't like us or will attack us if we express an opinion. It may prevent us from participating in life and can lead to social isolation. There may be a lack of depth in our lives because it is difficult to connect with people on a mutually respectful basis. Sometimes a solution can be as simple as pushing yourself to go to social gatherings and participating is social activities. If this is not possible then professional help may be needed.

  3. We May Abandon Others
    We may be quick to leave a relationship because we fear they will leave us. We think it is easier to run from the pain of abandonment. When we feel this pain over and over again, then our mind tells us it is less painful to leave before our significant other deserts us. Sometimes the wounded person will contemplate leaving the relationship because of an innocent comment from their significant other that triggered abandonment issues. In this situation it is best to access the quality of the relationship and if a break is warranted. We need to ask ourselves if this person loves and respects us or are we acting rashly without sufficient cause.

  4. We May Become Controlling
    If we have a family then the danger of attempting to control our loved one's daily lives can lead to relationships fraught with drama, like arguments with children over small infractions that we consider major. We can become paranoid and accuse our spouse of having an affair if they come home late or fail to call us when we expect. This is why it is essential to feel comfortable expressing ourselves in a relationship. This does not happen over-night. It is a process that requires emotional work from the beginning.


Everyone has abandonment issues. Some are worse than others, depending on the level of desertion. A great deal of introspection is needed to deal with this problem, but it is possible. Once abandonment is recognized and we received support for our healing then we are on the pathway to healthy relationships.

Carmela Cattuti is a writer, visual artist, and teacher. She is the author of Between the Cracks, a novel based on her great aunt's journey from Sicily to the U.S. Carmela is a graduate of Boston College's masters program in literature. Join her Facebook community and visit her on her Twitter and Pinterest for event updates and articles. Visit for your free chapter.  Permission granted for use on


Posted by Staff at 3:44 PM