Having my three babies helped me in so many ways. The biggest one is being able to (mostly) let go of my fear of abandonment. Having them helped open my eyes to the fact I was allowing someone to have power over me.
My fear of abandonment was not restricted to my adult relationships. Any time my children would go to visit their fathers, I was terrified they would want to stay and never come back home to me . . . abandoning me. Irrational? Probably. Possible? Maybe just a little. The only thing I could do was let them go and pray they would return. Thankfully, they always did.
I was close to 30 when I actually began to let go of the anger and fear. Holding onto and carrying around the fear of abandonment is tiring emotionally and mentally. Holding onto the anger and bitterness is even more so. In all honesty, I do not remember the exact moment when it ‘clicked’ for me. The only thing I know is it did.
My father’s abandonment was relegated to the furthest corners of my mind. Little by little I was letting go of those dark and twisty emotions that had been weighing on me mentally and emotionally. I began to feel lighter and freer. Cliche? Probably. However, it is how I felt.
I wish I could say letting the fear of abandonment go was the end of it and it never showed its ugly, nasty, dark and twisty face again; but I cannot. It reared its ugly, nasty, dark and twisty face not too long after I married Mr Wonderfully Just Right for Me. He, too, is a Marine. After his retirement, he became a truck driver.
My father was a truck driver. He cheated on my mother. He ran off with the thing he was having an affair with . . . abandoning his wife and five children. Not only did this cause abandonment issues, it also generated trust issues. Trust most definitely does not come easy to me.
My husband and I will be married 18 years in April. Even after all this time, I am still afraid he will decide he has had enough and just up and leave. I have shared my fears with him. He tries to understand. He really does. However, he has never had someone walk out on him without a word. The only thing he can do is to try and reassure me he is going nowhere.
I will be fine for long stretches of time and then, BAM! Out of nowhere, my fears resurface. There never seems to be any rhyme or reason; no discernible pattern. Thankfully, I am now better equipped mentally to work through the fears when they do reappear.
Working through my fear of abandonment is going to be a lifelong process. The mental and emotional wounds inflicted were very deep and far-reaching. I hope there will come a day when I no longer fear being abandoned by my loved ones. Until then, I will continue to work through it.
There is one final twist to this story, though . . .
My mother had always said if our father were to return she would take him back. She said he was the love of her life and the father of her children. We all knew he never would, so we thought she was just blowing smoke. She was adamant, though.
Well, in February 2001, my father resurfaced. They had been talking to each other for about a month before it was revealed. The last two to know he had reentered the picture were my brother and I. My mom and sisters were afraid to tell us for fear of our reactions. They knew how we felt about him.
The first time I saw him after his almost 23 YEAR absence, I realized he had not changed. He was still the same man who had walked out on us. The only difference was he was a lot older. He still had the ‘Bigger, Badder, Better Syndrome.’ The other thing was he brought his then 17-year-old son with him.
Yes, my mother DID take him back. She actually remarried him. He was able to get to know his grandchildren and three out of five children. My brother and I pretty much kept our distance. We tolerated him out of respect for our mom. Otherwise, he was a non-person.
I did ask him why he did it . . . Why he felt he had to walk out on his wife and five children. Sadly, I was not able to get a clear answer. The 12-year-old girl in me was desperate for answers. The 36-year-old woman accepted the fact I would never get them.
He passed away in on 30 November 2011. I barely shed a tear. As a fact, none of my siblings or even my mother did. We had mourned his loss years before. My mother was saddened by the loss of her companion; however, the grieving over the loss of her husband had happened a long time before he reentered the picture.
In the end, we were able to get closure – sorta.
The fear of abandonment may not be gone, however, it is not an all-consuming part of my life. I am utilizing the tools I have acquired over the years to truly work though the fear when it does pop up. It is not always easy. But then, what in life actually is?