how abandonment wounds are born

How Abandonment Wounds Are Born and Raised

Sharing is caring

Have you ever wondered where your sense of loneliness comes from?  Why sometimes the feelings of isolation are so dark and deep, they may cause you to entertain thoughts of not waking up the next morning?  

Occasionally, it’s so painful that you can barely muster the strength to do anything besides lie in your bed and wait for the darkness to pass?

Where do these feelings come from?  And why do they hang around like a bad penny?  At times just beneath the surface, other times buried for a while…but, always there.

For the most part, abandonment wounds are the offspring of an ignorant society—and are implanted right after we are born!

Envision what life is like for a newborn infant.  To be in a completely new environment with strange sounds and smells.  Immediately after being born, you are torn away from your mother and placed in a nursery to be monitored, only being allowed to bond with your mother during times that the doctors and nurses have scheduled out.

To make matters worse, you were born in an era where new parents were told by pediatricians to let their babies “cry it out” in their cribs.

Imagine, you can’t speak, only whimper and cry to have your needs met. 

You feel a gnawing sensation in your stomach or perhaps your diaper needs to be changed, but you don’t know you’re hungry or that the reason your bottom is sore is that your mother needs to apply diaper cream.  Heck, you don’t even recognize that you have a stomach or a bottom!

No, you only know you’re uncomfortable and you certainly can’t help yourself.  You don’t have the capacity for such thought, anyway.   Something just doesn’t feel good and so you begin to cry.  No one comes and so you cry some more.  After a while, you’re in such a terrible state that you shut down and go to sleep from the sheer exhaustion of it all.

After a while, you’re in such a terrible state that you shut down and go to sleep from the sheer exhaustion of it all.

Meanwhile, in another room, your parents believe you were crying because you wanted to be picked up and that if they went in there and did so, you would become spoiled.  Their suspicions were confirmed when you finally went silent.  In their minds, they “won the battle”, you “soothed yourself”, went back to sleep, and they went back to business as usual.

And this was the pattern throughout your first year and beyond.  Sure, your parents probably ensured you were fed and changed — perhaps according to the advice of doctors or self-help books.  Maybe they changed your diaper every two hours and fed you according to the guidelines for your age at any particular stage. 

Not much different than raising a pet or a houseplant, really. 

The Old Paradigm of Child-Rearing

Sadly, until recent years, people didn’t realize that leaving an infant to cry in its crib essentially instills abandonment wounds that stay with a person for the rest of their life.  What this harmful advice did, in reality, was teach babies that they couldn’t trust the world.

And because of this oblivious advice, we now have multiple generations of humans who are depressed, on prescription medications, and–in spite of therapy— living in a state of mere existence. 

And that’s just the beginning.  There are other, equally sad incidents that happen in one’s life after the first year which intensifies abandonment wounds, such as:

  • A parent leaving his or her children
  • Being placed in daycare while a parent goes to work
  • The perception of being deserted by a friend (such as in elementary school)
  • Being picked on or bullied in school
  • A pet dying
  • Being placed for adoption
  • The feeling of being pushed aside after the birth of a new sibling
  • Having a parent or caregiver who is emotionally unavailable – such as in the event of a parent who is a workaholic, alcoholic, addicted to drugs, and/or narcissistic
  • Being the recipient of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Being unseen or misunderstood by parents or other caregivers
  • Being shamed for having human emotions
  • One’s parents divorcing
  • Having a parent who is a perfectionist and who only shows affection when their child lives up to their standards
  • Being treated poorly by a teacher

…and many of these happen during childhood alone!  Sadly, I can attest to the fact that there are still teachers in various public school systems who persist in publicly humiliating and shaming their students.  And since all administration cares about is whether their school is SOL-accredited, they often turn a blind eye to this ill-treatment. 

Can you imagine being ignored and shamed at home, only to receive the same treatment at school?

Maybe you can.  Which might explain the answers to the questions in the first paragraph of this article.

Abandonment Fallout

Abandonment means different things to different people because, while we all share the universal wound of abandonment, it may have been formed by different circumstances.  

It’s also experienced differently according to one’s level of emotional resilience. 

Almost everyone has abandonment wounds to heal, and most relationship problems stem from abandonment wounds. Further, unresolved abandonment leads to insecure attachment styles that we carry into our adult lives.  Consequently, we go out into the world and unconsciously choose the precise people to help us reenact the trauma – in the hopes of curing it at last.

But with abandonment trauma, by its very nature, that rarely happens.

What happens is we often stay enmeshed with toxic partners in a perpetual cycle of repetition compulsion and varying states of stress and panic – which we often become addicted to!

Moreover, being in an actively triggered emotional state seriously jeopardizes rational brain function and possibilities for healing. It feels much more like a return to the wild than trying to rationally navigate the shaky terrain.

Overcoming Abandonment Trauma

Without guidance, many people don’t completely heal from the trauma of abandonment and its lifelong presence.  Their fears and doubts remain unsolved.  However, there are a few steps to get you started on this journey. 

1 – If you’re in a toxic relationship, start devising your exit plan. 

2 – Find an emotionally available attachment figure who is loving, accepting, and consistently available.  This could be a family member, a friend, a 12-step program, someone from your Church, a coach, a therapist, or even God (whatever God, Spirit, Or Higher Power you personally believe in). 

3 – Develop self-awareness and self-compassion.  Self-awareness is a stepping stone to developing emotional resilience so that you’ll have better control over your emotions instead of your emotions controlling you.  Self-compassion will hopefully inspire you to develop better boundaries in relationships so that no one can use your abandonment triggers against you

4 – Learn to enjoy being alone with yourself.  With practice, the more time you spend alone, the more comfortable you may become in your own skin while helping you truly get to know yourself. This will hopefully provide you with more patience to accept yourself as you are, wherever you are in your journey, without the need for anyone’s acceptance or validation.  This creates a foundation for a fulfilling partnership later on if that’s a goal of yours.

If you feel stuck and are ready to go deeper, consider a narcissistic abuse recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Essential Break Free Bootcamp may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

I know what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

Sharing is caring

Leave a Comment:

Anonymous says May 25, 2021

Articles like this are so critical! Thank you for keeping us so informed and growing!

April L Williams says January 9, 2020

I never realized that so many of the things I experienced in childhood were part of my fear of abandonment. I always knew I felt that way, there were more things that happened and included on your list that now makes sense to me. I know it’s the reason I ended up in toxic relationships. One of the things that struck me was about the teacher. I am in my 50s. When I went to school teachers were always so nice. I had a few that were very rough. One in particular pulled kids hair and abused them right in front of me. I tried to tell someone but then they told the teacher and she got mad at me. I was petrified of this woman. And I didn’t feel I could tell my parents as she was the daughter of a family friend. People tend to downplay things. Everyone always tells me that divorce is no big deal and kids are resilient, but I see the effects in my own kids. There are wounds there. Big ones. Thanks for your information, Kim. It’s always enlightening.

6 Strategies to Help You Stop Overreacting When Healing After Narcissistic Abuse - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says August 11, 2019

[…] If you have children, taking a time out is critical if you find yourself overreacting with anger towards them on a regular basis.  Children who consistently feel unloved often grow up to develop either narcissistic or codependent t…. […]

Anonymous says April 3, 2019

Kim, I appreciate your precious, loving advice and help. However, I have a unique situation. If I leave the narcissist, being married to her, I cut off her monetary welfare supply, including that for our daughter (in all, 5 minor children). If I leave Poland the welfare will be cut off according to the Polish law. What should I do? Is it morally ok for me to “save myself” but to sentence children, including my own daughter, to poverty and starvation?

Angela says April 2, 2019

I’m a public school teacher and I NEVER publically humiliate children intentionally and neither do my colleagues. To say that “public school” teachers do that (it can happen anywhere) is unfair and offensive. And while administrators are responsible for maintaining accreditation, there are many dedicated, professional, loving leaders who are in education for children FIRST. Your generalizations are hurtful. I’ve been so encouraged by your emails for two years but I’m so surprised at the derogatory nature blanketed in this article. Yes, some educators do wrong things, butin my experience the vast majority are in the profession for noble reasons.

    Kim Saeed says April 2, 2019

    Hi Angela,

    I taught in a local school district for three years and I saw this sort of thing all the time. I was outraged and that’s why I included it in my article. I’m glad you’re not like that, but sadly, it’s a common thing in the schools where I live.


    Diana says April 3, 2019

    I was a school bus driver and witnessed teachers shaming children on my school bus in front of the other children. I witnessed teachers shaming children more than once. Probably depends upon the particular school and teacher. I myself was shamed and even shaken for “talking too much.”

Cheryl says April 2, 2019

Hi Kim, Thank you so much for your inspiration and to continue to reach put yo us.Im in the 2 month no contact period and it’s tuff but gets better when I read your updates and personal messages. My ex female Narc has hovered me back in several times before but the discard this time was extremely cruel and left me in shreds after trying my best to keep the peace and do even more than previously to keep her smiling. The new supply is now been flaunted on social media as I was told by a friend. This after a series of status’s describing just how she has had enough of unhappiness and turning a new leaf etc. I wish I could join the boot camp but cannot afford it after the 15 years with several separations in between I’ve been left broke..Her children and grandchildren does not even care whom I know since young…but they all have nartistic traces so I’m not surprised.However I have watched many of your videos and read many of your post. I also downloaded the beginner kit and among a few others. THANK YOU so much for the work you do to help us Much appreciated. God Bless you XOX

Anonymous says April 2, 2019

hi kim.u have always been encouraging and inspiring and it might sound funny.on time, when i could use ur insight
thank you

Shirley says September 5, 2017

Excellent article Kim:

It explains a lot of why trauma/drama in my relationships. I plan on learning from my mistakes so I can stop making the same ones over and over.

Thank you for caring.

Kim Saeed says October 2, 2016

Hi Lynn,

I wasn’t able to find any previous comments using the email address you left this comment under, otherwise I could go in and make the changes you’ve requested.


Sara says August 22, 2016

Hi Kim , i hope you have the time to reply on my last comments.It would be soo helpful . Or anyone on this board.

    mls says September 4, 2016

    Sara, Seems they are so very proud. Too proud to pursue someone who they perceive rejected them.

Sara says August 22, 2016

Hi Kim, Yes i understand fully that you can’t reply on all comments. So im very thankful that you did!! Its just very hard and lonely out there when no one cares for you story and thinks its a normal break up, or that you are soo in love that you can’t get over him!! The dangerous part is im muslim so it was kind of a arranged marriage which didn’t happen thankfully but they make such advantage of this because you can’t get to know them too much. the reason i ask if he is a abuser because he did pushed for marriage a lot and when that didn’t happen he actually got mad and start pulling away. The relationship started as love bombing and then criticizing that i shouldn’t watch in the mirror too often, or not tell my mother about our problems which i refuses. Then he said then its over for good between us and then i said ok thats fine.Then he never contacted me again neither did i. But we had a close relationship of 9 months and were planning to get engaged. I always read them trying to get back he never did.

    Sara says August 22, 2016

    And i didn’t call him either since no contact means no contact for me.I never wanted him back but it was such a shark contrast to his love before and then letting me go so easily . it then appeared that all was fake. Such a bitter pill to swallow. Everyone my family friends laughed at me that i told you so etc. It was harsh. he actually was very jelous told me i looked to immature for him like little girl since i have a babyface. . I just wonder does he feel hurt that his mission didn’t accomplish ? because of religion we never had sex? nor did i gave him any money he spended on me .Plus he drove 2 hours from his home 3 times a week to meet me 8 months long. So what did he gain from this all?

Sara says August 22, 2016

Kim, i love all your posts!! Awesome . Nobody could ever understand how evil my ex was. But the thing i dont understand is why he never ever hoovered me ? or tried to get back with me? After so much extreme love bombing even by going to a counselor? And is a narcissist and a abuser the same thing??
im posting this here because at the older post i didnt get a reply.

    Kim Saeed says August 22, 2016

    Hi Sara, yes, I don’t always get the chance to reply because I just get so many comments here and also on my social media platforms and email. I couldn’t possibly answer all of them.

    I can only speculate because I don’t know anything about the relationship you had or what behaviors he engaged in.

    The narcissists who are cops are some of the worst ones. I’m sure he has his own reasons for why he didn’t try to hoover, but the main one is to make you feel worthless, because that’s what they want more than anything…I know because I’ve worked with many women who dated narcissistic cops.

    You are lucky that he didn’t try to get back with you because these kinds of men can make your life extreme hell. To answer your question, the label isn’t important whether a person is a narcissist or an abuser…because you don’t deserve either.

    Best of luck, Sara…


      Sara says August 22, 2016

      Hi Kim, I have to add, you have the best forum till date about these types. And i never comment in any forum but this one made me. Its very helpful keep on going with this. your negative experience has been a gift now for so many people now!! Once gain Thank you from my heart!

        Kim Saeed says August 23, 2016

        Thank you very much, Sara, for your kind praise and I’m glad to know my writing has helped you!

Juliette says August 18, 2016

That old advice seems so bizarre now. Planned, deliberate abandonment!

    Kim Saeed says August 18, 2016

    Indeed, Juliette.

Beatriz says August 17, 2016

Brilliant Kim

Melinda says August 17, 2016

I grew up in a VERY toxic environment where I was verbally, emotionally, and mentally abused. There was also some physical and sexual abuse but that affected me on a smaller scale…as weird as that sounds.

I think that for me, my abandonment wounds mostly stem from my mother choosing men over me, especially my abusive stepfather. I was placed in the position of feeling like I didn’t matter to anyone at all.
No matter how badly D. (my stepfather) treated me, she stayed with him. She said it was MY fault he acted that way. I never knew what it was to hear kind words or be treated with love.
I was used to constant harsh criticism, fits of rage, violence, threats, etc. My mother enabled my stepfather’s behavior and made excuses.

I was also bullied severely in school. There was a lot of racism directed at me and I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I was also mistreated by certain members of my family because they perceived me as “different”.
There have also been abuse/rejection/abandonment issues in my relationships with men because I never had healthy relationships modeled for me when I was growing up.
My stepfather viewed me as the classic unwanted stepchild. He resented me for not being his biological daughter. As to my mother? I love her very much, but I’ve had to accept that she loves my stepfather more. I have never been a priority.

Whenever I’ve had a problem, I could never tell her. I could never confide in her about anything. I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for years but I always had to keep it to myself. I got caught up in a dangerous lifestyle in my late teens/early twenties and my mother never once tried to see if I was OK, because everybody else was more important.
My family never treated me the way a family should. All I’ve ever heard is “ugly, worthless, fat, lazy, stupid” etc.

Now as an adult, I’m trying to work on healing but it’s hard. I still suffer from depression and insomnia. I’ve gained about 70 lbs. in the last few years.
I often feel a deep sadness and a sense of abandonment, despite being married to a great guy. I’ve even broken down in tears because it really hurts to feel like no one cares about me.
But we have to play the hand that life deals us. I have to try to show myself the kindness and encouragement that I never had growing up.

    mls says September 4, 2016

    Melinda, I hear the pain and sadness in your words. I experienced some of the same things growing up. But not nearly so severe. Every time I think of a child being treated like that I want to swoop down and scoop them up and take them a million miles from that placeand those people, and love and care for them and help them heal.I think that little child still lives inside of us as we age. We can be that loving adult to them that they never had…now. In the situations we experience that bring all those same feelings and fears to the surface and make us feel four years old again, unloved, unseen and unwanted, we can come alongside her and hold her. Guide her. Help her along. And help her heal.

    Moments Of Inspiration says September 13, 2016

    Also I experienced some of that abuse.
    Though we never experienced sexual abuse, we did physically get abused (beaten with fist, rods, belts), and cursed every single day (“you’re no good!”, “will never amount to anything”, “liar”).
    I could count on 2 fingers my dad had done something nice to me in an entire 12 years of my teenager to young adult years. He had changed when I became 5 years of age.
    Suspecting infidelity, and he first took it out on mom, until mom broke down with Epileptic seizures, that only got worse, and didn’t allow her to speak normally anymore.
    Her speech became slower, and dad started taking it out on me, the oldest of the bunch.
    After I was kicked out of my father’s house at the age of 19, because my dad didn’t want me home anymore, the deepest wounds I just cropped up.
    Yeah, I got bullied in school as well. But that became better as I grew older.
    I had a few girlfriends, but never could keep a job or a girlfriend, because I was emotionally so unstable, it would disable me for hours at the job; not being able to work due to extreme and overwhelming sadness coming over me.
    No one could understand it.

    After I left home, my oldest sister fleed the home. My second oldest sister, just studied and did a part time job, not to be home.
    My next sister, she spent all her time volunteering, not to be home.
    The sister after that was too young to take my dad’s beating. She committed a failed suicide attempt.
    That’s when dad saw he did something wrong.
    That sister got lucky a man saw her, and proposed to her. He’s a very stable man, and they’re happily married together, and having 3 children now.
    My youngest sister ran away from home, only to be found many years later with a guy 20 years her senior. She was still a minor when she ran off.

    Parents often don’t realize what they do to their children, and the consequences of the ‘sins of the parents, being on the family upto the third generation’.

    I fight depression daily. No one wants to be my friend. The woman I loved beyond anything and got married to, left me after 6.5 years of marriage for someone else.
    For 4 years I stayed in bed. Just worked, came home to sleep.
    I would sleep days sometimes on my days off I would sleep 30 or 40 hours.
    At one point I slept 72 hours, after I had been awake for 48 hours.

    But thank God, I’m learning to be by myself. It’s hard sometimes, because I think I’ll never make it.
    Sometimes I refuse to connect to people, even when I need it, because I shouldn’t need people.

    I feel the 2 things I wanted the most in life are friends, and a relationship, and I have neither.

    The path of healing is very long, and painful. But I’m getting better, thank God!

lisa thomson-The Great Escape... says August 17, 2016

This is an amazing article, Kim. The way you describe the ‘let the baby cry out’ theory of parenting is really absurd when you look at it. I had my babies in the early 90’s and there were still parenting advice and mothers who believed in this. I remember an aquaintance coming over shortly after my daughter was born and she was horrified that I breast fed whenever the baby ‘was hungry’. She said “feed her only every 4 hours or else, you’ll spoil her.”. I didn’t listen to that B.S. (thank goodness). Thanks for sharing so many examples of abandonment. It explains a lot!

Add Your Reply