Timothy Rogers, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist mfc101500
- Let me be the last therapist you see -
An emotional state which brings on a catastrophic set of feelings. Based on John Bowlby's attachment theory which suggests that children come into the world biologically preprogrammed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive.
Stages of Abandonment Depression
When we anticipate that our needs may not be met or that someone is again turning away, we can do three basic things—sometimes all in rapid sequence like the baby above:
We work harder to connect. We reach, we talk, and we try to find the other person. “Come back to me,” we say!
We protest the other person’s absence. This can look like anger or sulking… or often comes out in “passive-aggressive” ways because part of us is giving up while part of us continues to protest. We give up. Maybe we turn to food or sleep or exercise or achievements… or we fold in on ourselves and lose our interest in relationships. All of this is the manifestation of the memory of “nobody there.”Is there help for this? Yes!
Part of the fear and anguish around abandonment lies in not believing that help is possible, of course. So from these feelings, you might not believe me. And that’s okay.
There really is help, though. This really can change. But it’s hard to change this all by yourself. The antidote to abandonment isn’t self-help. The antidote to abandonment isn’t to do something in lonely isolation.
The antidote to abandonment is connection. Connecting… When Connecting Is the Problem. Finding a counselor who can map your emotions to unmet young needs can be a big help. Together, we’ll focus on moment-by-moment connection.
Together, we’ll empathically put words to your struggles and help you to stop abandoning yourself. Together, we’ll connect you to others who can be there for you.
In time, connection begins to feel like a delightful choice rather than a terrible need that leads to more abandonment.
This work always involves grief for the experience of solid connection that somehow got disrupted when you were young…
… but it also involves a sense of freedom, of connection, and also of you. The last thing needed when working with these feelings of aloneness is to feel all alone.
Still Face Experiment
The “Still Face Experiment,” conducted by Dr. Edward Tronick and published by the University of Massachusetts Boston, shows what happens with a baby whose mom is usually present and attuned… but goes still and unresponsive for just a minute. Watch the baby’s reactions in this brief video of the experiment.
Being abandoned or ignored in times of distress, to our young selves, constitutes a big trauma.
--> Mom’s inattention here is a big deal for this baby. Mom comes back to full engagement in this video, so this has a happy ending. But for those of us whose caregiver couldn’t quite come back to us, we can end up feeling scared and stuck. <-----
I suspect that some people with strong fears of getting to know people are actually anticipating abandonment, rejection, or panic to keep them from feeling the torturous zone of the “still face” seen above.
If you experience abandonment flashbacks, then you know these debilitating feelings of hopelessness, despair, and shame.
Ignored in times of distress:
Mothers of color
From their point of view, we must wonder if there has EVER been a time when these mothers have had the LUXURY of NOT having a "still-face?" GENERATIONS of Abandonment Depression because of ignorance, white privilege, elitist power hungry, raciest rape. ----> Still they thrive, but not without a cost. Not without ramifications.
Imagine it, coming up, coming through or succeeding in spite of GENERATIONS of Trauma. If the still-face was not a Trauma Response? The offspring, the children, "those people," would be limitless. Their horizons would be as expansive as those of their more established, privileged white counterparts.
IT'S NOT "BABY MAMA DRAMA!"
IT'S MAMA TRAUMA & BABY TRAUMA. THE DRAMA WAS NEVER THEIRS!
THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY - Brene Brown