Some of us may have felt abandoned at one time or another in our lives, whether righteously so or not. I am here to say abandonment, or feelings of having been abandoned, can be useful if looked at a different way. Its all in how you look at the world. A little perspective is really all we need. We can choose to feel slighted, rejected, or outright done wrong. Or, we can recognize our own power in the world, our way of seeing things, and most importantly that everything is about balancing out what is best for us.
This happens to many of us, but I think those of us who are only children, children of divorce and especially from single parent homes can find it to be a stronger force to overcome. I grew up without a father beyond the age of 2, in fact the last time I set eyes on my father other than in a photograph I was 4 years old. He was visiting and brought me a bicycle. It had pink streamers on the handles and I don’t recall, but I am pretty sure I thought it was amazing. I don’t remember much else about my father. I do however remember seeing other girls with their fathers and thinking how lucky they were. I also watched my mother struggle to take care of me all on her own, all the while doing her best to paint a positive picture for me of my father as someone she had loved very much, but whom she had grown apart from. I learned as an adult there was more to that story, but I thank her for making the best effort she knew how to in order give me less stress around an already murky situation. I also grew up without siblings, even though I have a half brother from a marriage my father had before my mother. I met my brother when I was 12 years old for the first time beyond infancy and it always felt a little like I was a guest in my own family spending time with him. He has always loved me and I know he thinks of me always, but I feel so disconnected from this relationship. He feels a bit like a stranger. There is the age difference, and cultural differences since I grew up mostly in a Jewish family on Long Island and surrounded by white people while my bother spent most of his most formative years with other Puerto Ricans and ethnicities that populated the town he grew up in in New York City.
I could choose to let my story be about feeling left behind, never really knowing my father, or my brother. That would be focusing on abandonment or lack. But I also know my father wasn’t really equipped to be a good father, and I had some amazing father figures in my life. There’s my focus on abundance. Most importantly, instead of reliving a tale of feeling left out or left behind, I choose to include others and invite them to feel close because I know what the alternative feels like. I choose to do work that teaches folks to value themselves and show how they value others. I speak directly, I say thank you. I complement the effort and energy others put forth to be their best selves and especially when they reach out to others. I choose to flip the script of hurt and abandonment to one of curiosity, stepping out into the world and leaving an open space for whomever needs to feel a part of something. The best way you can teach others that they are loved is by truly loving them. I have had many people include me in their families, surrogate families beyond my family of origin and this always feels so amazing.
Since I have been battling with feelings of abandonment on some level my whole life I have had a lot of mat3erial for growth. When I am in a distracted, egoic place I often feel sorry for myself and lonely. Its as if the sun is shining, but I can’t see it. I turn myself around in circles questioning so many things about myself and the object of my supposed neglect. I have friends who I often have wondered if they are really friends when months have gone by and they have shaken off every opportunity to get together. And then I realize I am doing it again! I am distracting myself from the deeper questions I should be asking. Questions like:
How have I abandoned myself lately? Have I been taking good care of myself and creating an environment for abundance and connection or have I been lazy with my efforts in these areas? Am I attributing blame to behavior that has nothing to do with me? Have this person and I grown in ways that our paths are diverging? Where can I place effort that is invited or wanted elsewhere? How is this a gift? Have this person and I not really been the best fit for one another, but I wanted to fit them into my little box of expectations? Is there something else around the corner I am just now seeing the space for that in focusing on this person’s lack of presence in my life I have closed myself off to? The answers to these questions are like opening up perfectly wrapped gifts of present moment awareness at how much opportunity we truly have.
Its one of the simplest laws of the universe. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it simply shifts and reacts. Almost like a monetary investment, if you place your mental energy on something long enough you compound it and it grows. The more we focus on something we don’t have control over, like whether or not someone wants to make time for us in their life, the less we can focus on our own lives. Moreover, we then waste effort and energy where we may not be able to truly shine, and abandon someone else most likely in the process. We all have a finite amount of effort to give, but some may need our effort more than others. When we are only thinking about ourselves and what we aren’t getting we are coming from a place of lack. Like a magnet, we then attract more of the same. If we can step outside of ourselves and realize everyone has felt rejected or abandoned, we might be able to reach out and give of ourselves. By being there for someone else, we are essentially reminding ourselves of what it feels like to support another and be there for them. This in turn lets us feel our own abundance, and then strengthen feelings of belonging, connection, and stoke the fire of what is best for us.
How do you deal with feeling left out or left behind? How do you make it a point to bring people together and show them you care? Please leave a comment and keep the connection going!