Codependency And Fear Of Abandonment

The fear of abandonment is a core issue in codependency. It works both sides of the fence–the addict is typically afraid of abandonment, too.  Fear of abandonment is a chief motivating factor in the behavior of codependents. It is often difficult to see this clearly.  In fact, it often appears that the codependents have no reason to stay in the often miserable circumstances they are in.

The Origins of Abandonment Fear

The fear of abandonment can come from many places, of course, but its origin is most likely within early experiences. Abandonment is a fear that children have when parents are too far away, or there must be a separation such as going to school for the first time. A child in these circumstances feels afraid to be separated and can feel that the separation is permanent–that the parent won’t return. At a certain age, these feelings are appropriate. children need their caregivers for their very survival. Being left is a serious and life-endangering event. Instinctively, children sense this. Apart from the instinctive sense we have about abandonment, we are often fearful of it because of the atmosphere and experience in a dysfunctional home. These fears are usually based on fact in these homes. Perhaps a caregiver is gone for undetermined amounts of time periodically, or there is conflict frequently and people leave angry. Perhaps, too, that children are punished by withholding affection, or they are threatened with abandonment if they don’t behave well…. There are countless scenarios in which children learn to be afraid of abandonment. Many of these circumstances are emotionally if not physically or sexually abusive.

Consequences of having a Fear of Abandonment

However one acquires the fear of abandonment, it is typically a powerful issue to deal with. It can lead to many unhappy circumstances such as:
  • staying in a bad relationship so you won’t be alone
  • accepting unacceptable behavior in associates so you won’t be alone
  • feeling insecure and inferior when comparing self to others
  • feeling unworthy of love and unlovable
  • feeling grateful for even unhealthy attention from others
  • using addictive behaviors to feel better about self and circumstances
  • staying stuck in bad relationships because you believe there is nothing better for you

Coping with Fear of Abandonment

There are many ways to cope with the fear of abandonment in a healthy way. Individual and group therapies can help immensely as can self-help groups. There are a great deal of books, online information and articles written especially for people who have the fear of abandonment.  Some areas to look into are Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families; Codependents Anonymous and codependent/codependency information.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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