STRAIGHTEN UP:

STEP 20

Moral Evaluation

- The Abandonment

List

Any family that is governed by shame also consistently practices abandoning others. By abandonment we don't just mean to physi​cally abandon; we are also talking about emotional abandonment. Any time a parent ‘shamed' us they also abandoned us. They abandoned the very core of us, the part of us that is intrinsic to our soul.

 

The shame tells us, the child, that we are not acceptable the way we are, and in order for us to survive the shame, we had to abandon ourselves. By abandoning ourselves we had to disbelieve our inner belief (that everyone has when they are born) that we were OK.

 

A Core Principle of Human Development

 

When a child is raised in a shame based, dysfunctional family, his/her only way to survive is to suppress any autonomous feelings and believe what the adults tell him/her. The shame speaks louder than words, and soon becomes the overriding driver in the child’s development. They will develop ways of behaving and being in order to fit in with the family rules that say, ‘You, the child, are wrong and we, the parents, are right.'

 

Prevalent in all dysfunctional families are common threads that form the roots of abandonment. These are:

 

  • The parents see the child as an extension of themselves 

  • The parents do not see their child as a perfectly formed human being in their own right

  • Any anger or aggression the child displays is quickly snuffed out because it threatens the parents

  • The child has to please the parents at all times to ensure his own survival

  • The child cannot depend on his parents because they are not functional enough to see that the child has separate needs than they have

  • The child cannot see his parents with a critical eye and question their authority because this would threaten the child's existence with his parents. No challenging is allowed

  • Because the parents have not accepted some of their own feelings to be ‘allowable' such as anger, jealousy and sexuality, the child is not allowed to express these feelings either

  • The child is not allowed to challenge the parents' authority status.

 

By playing out this game of pretense, the parents have to abandon their child in order for them (the parents) to survive. If they didn't abandon their child, the child may feel safe enough to challenge these threads, which are common to dysfunctional families.

 

In functional families, children are allowed to:

 

  • Challenge their parent's rules

  • Believe they will be loved no matter what they say or do

  • Have no fear of being hit, raged at, or experiencing other types of abandonment

  • Feel confident that if they over step the boundaries, they will be shown back towards the boundary line with a loving hand

  • Believe that it's OK for them to be different than their parents

  • Never have any inclination that they must fulfill their parents' needs

  • Know they can experience their sense of sexuality without shame

 

When a child is continuously abandoned they suffer from psychological trauma. As adults we may still act out this trauma and we will cover this in a later Step.

 

Abandonment examples are: 

 

  • Being left all day with caretakers or in a nursery

  • Coming home to an empty house after school at an age where it left you feeling isolated and alone

  • Hurting yourself but knowing it would not benefit you to run to a parent for help, for fear of being told that you've ‘done it again' or had been ‘up to mischief'

  • Hiding things, or yourself, when you made a mistake such as breaking something

  • You were bullied at school, but you couldn't speak to your parents for fear of a reprisal, or being told it's your fault

  • You got into trouble and, again, you knew it was easier to deal with the police than going to your parents for help

 

EXERCISE

 

Make a list of the times you felt abandoned by your parents when you were a child. Give the details to include your age, where you were and what happened: