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When your family abandons you (figuring the next step)

In this article, we will talk about what you feel when your family abandons you and how to deal with it.

Being abandoned may be one of the most daunting conditions that any of us will ever face. Depression, distrust, and irrational levels of anxiety can be caused by abandonment issues. Such problems impact everyday life, employment, friendships and intimate relationships. But you’re not alone if you’ve been abandoned, even if you may feel that way.

When your family abandons you 

It’s important to be mindful of your needs if you’re estranged from your family or they’ve chosen to distance or disown you. You’ll probably feel a collection of feelings about the distance between yourself and your family: you might end up feeling painfully isolated on the bad days, but there may be a feeling of overwhelming peace and liberation on the good days.

It can be incredibly hard to live with the feeling of being hurt and rejected by your family. You can feel very cautious about others, their motives, and worried about whether their love and friendship will last for a long time. Instead of loving and believing in the optimistic and nurturing feeling of companionship, this may lead to rumination on the negative aspects of relationships.

For fear of being judged, it may be very difficult for you to let go and share information about your estrangement with friends, partners and work colleagues. You may find that when you mention what happened, people don’t understand what you were compelled to do, and maybe confused as to how to react to you.

However, rebuilding the ability to trust others and building support for yourself in your life is crucial. With these forms of estrangement, you can receive support from a therapist or psychologist, who can help you develop strategies and goals to address confidence in other relationships.

However, it is a crucial component for recovery from estrangement to work with the assumption that not everyone in society would let you down in the same manner as your family of origin. The emotions associated with estrangement could cause you to withdraw from all relationships if this belief is absent, which can put you at risk of feeling alone and lonely.

What to do when your family abandons you

It’s important to note that this can be a vulnerable place to be if you have been estranged from your family. Deciding to get away from your family will remove some of the instant emotional pain, and people in our culture always agree that when they first separate themselves from their dysfunctional family dynamic, they feel relieved. Many individuals in our culture, however, find that estrangement is regular work and can lead them to think about their condition indefinitely, even though they experience an initial sense of relief.

It is crucial not to fall into isolation and ensure that as part of the broader community you keep yourself involved and working. If you feel capable of knowing your closest friends and romantic partners, it is advisable to let them know that you are not in contact with a member of your family or with a larger family network.

While in every case it won’t be valid, individuals can be amazingly conscious of family estrangement, and it’s far more normal than people know. There is an estrangement between 1 in 5 UK families and so there is the same risk that in their own family they may have witnessed this.

We will advise that you seek weekly support from a therapist or counselor if you are dealing with your estrangement, who would be able to support you and help you to process the tough feelings. Stand Alone support groups or online groups will provide you with a forum to express your feelings with those who understand instantly and who will make you know that with the choice you have made, you are not alone.

We would suggest finding the help of a group therapist and joining group therapy if you believe your estrangement affects your social life, confidence, and the capacity to engage fully in friendship groups or function.

Reaching out to other family members

When your family abandons you, you can reach out to your extended family members. In estrangements, other family members can be very helpful, but they can also make it impossible for you to feel peace with your situation. It is likely that the entire family and multiple relationships within it will be affected by an estrangement, which can cause tensions to escalate.

Many people in our culture, when they want to maintain a friendship with one family member, but not another, feel like they are treading on eggshells. It’s advisable to be very honest about your feelings in this situation.

Referencing Dr. Coleman’s concept of separate family realities can be beneficial, and recognizing that another family member might not feel like there has ever been a problem, but you certainly did. As much as they are to theirs, you are entitled to your version of events, and it can pacify the situation to clarify that there is no objective right and wrong about what happened, but we do have the right to our own feelings.

Be kind but clear about this, and help them to realize that you only want them in your life if you don’t want to hear anything at all about the wider family. Be frank about this too, if you need them to be impartial, and let them know that any strong suggestion of reconciliation will not make you feel that they genuinely respect the situation from your point of view.

Be frank about how this makes you feel if a family member does not follow the boundary you have set with regard to the estrangement, but be mindful of the fact that this is a complicated situation for everyone involved. It’s worth remembering how you’re feeling about your estrangement, and the best times to engage with someone who could rock your sense of peace.

Reconciliation after your family abandons you

Many people feel tremendous pressure to reconcile with their families, while others long for a stable relationship with their families and strive to reach out to build it. In our society, the issue of justice and reconciliation is always debated, and many people feel that their estrangement is their own. The very principle of distancing yourself from a stressful family situation can lead to feelings that you are guilty for not being able to cope or ‘play’ happy families with your family.

Every family breakup is different, but when the time is right for you, and also for your family, it’s important to think about reconciliation. Family members may attempt to reach out, but you must consider whether you are both able to communicate calmly, as well as whether anyone is willing to take the appropriate steps to repair any of the harm in your relationship.

Change does not only come from one side of any relationship, and you must be careful not to be cornered in a position where you are coerced or forced to admit that all the issues are your fault.

If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to reconnect, but are having family interaction, it’s best to kindly explain that when the time is right for you, you’ll get back in touch.

How to deal when your family abandons you

Understand the depth of the hurt felt

You must first be honest to identify why it impacts you to the degree that it does, if you are to resolve abandonment. Abandonment is a dynamic problem. Similar to coping with a loved one’s passing, abandonment causes a profound sense of loss. But unlike mourning over a deceased friend or relative, with abandonment, there is little or no closure. The purpose of death is certain, but the problems of abandonment deal with the mystery of whether the loved one would ever come back, why they left in the first place, and whether or not the abandoned one will ever be able to trust the one who left them again. 

Notice your emotions

You would generally deal with your pain in one of two ways if you have been hurt profoundly by abandonment: you may become excessively vulnerable and need constant attention and reassurance, or you may go to the opposite extreme and vow to never allow yourself to ever again become deeply involved in someone. You cope with abandonment if you are part of the former group by seeking to fill the empty space in your heart with someone who is able to give you attention. 

Take action

Surrounding yourself with close friends and family that you trust is the safest and most realistic way to cope with abandonment. You should progressively take steps to get close to those individuals on your own or with the aid of a competent counselor or a mental health professional and rely on them for increasingly important items.

In this article, we talked about what you feel when your family abandons you and how to deal with it.

FAQs: When your family abandons you

What do you do when your family is against you?

When your family is against you, do not try and fix the problematic person, be present and direct when you address them. Do not encourage the problematic person to express themselves and create more problems for you. Watch for trigger topics and know what are some topics that are off-limits to the discussion.

Can I sue my parents for abandonment?

A minor in the US is unable to file a complaint on their behalf. For them to bring a claim, they need a parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem (someone named by the court). So, first of all, no, you can’t sue your parents on your own.

How do you deal with abandonment of parents?

To deal with abandonment of parents you can seek professional help or to someone you feel comfortable enough to confide in. Be open to expressing your feelings and emotions that you are experiencing. 

Is it okay to abandon family?

It depends on what you mean by “your family.” You leave your parents and siblings to become independent when you go out into the world as an adult. For certain individuals, “leaving them” and breaking off ties may be a safe and optimistic decision to make if their childhood nuclear family was toxic or harmful.

What are signs of a toxic family?

Some of the signs of a toxic family are, you were expected to meet unrealistically high standards, you were harshly criticized for every action and behaviour of yours. Your needs be it emotional or physical were not met by your family members especially your parents. 

How do you know if your family hates you?

You know your family hates you when they never show support to you, they always put the blame on you no matter whose fault it is. They flake on you and hesitate to celebrate important life events with you.

References

https://www.standalone.org.uk/guides/adultchildren/

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/how-to-overcome-the-feeling-of-abandonment

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/abandonment-issues#treatment

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Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.