I’ve received thousands of letters from people telling me how abandonment trauma has wrecked their lives. Anxiety overwhelms them when they attempt a new relationship. They feel a painful lack of trust toward any potential partner which caused them to panic and withdraw. Their abandonment fear is just too intense to cope with. They also feel distrustful toward themselves, fearful that their insecurity will cause them to sabotage yet another chance to love. They just don’t want to risk freaking out and scaring someone away again. It’s too demoralizing!

They hate their anxiety, hyper-sensitivity, and neediness for the way it’s ruined their lives. Hating this about themselves means that on this level they hate themselves. They beat themselves up, feel something is fundamentally wrong with them, remain rejection-sensitive and hyper-vigilant when they’re with people, can’t get out of their heads, cant go with the flow and be themselves.

Can you identify with any of this? My work of over 30 years has shown me that no matter how much you may hate yourself, no matter how alone or isolated, no matter how long you’ve suffered, no matter how abjectly hopeless and desperate, no matter how intense your panic or insecurity, no matter how extreme your self-sabotage, I’m here to tell you two things. 1) You are not alone. 2) There is a way out of isolation and into connection.

There are millions of abandonment survivors in our very midst who have run out of hope and feel condemned to loneliness and helplessness forever. Outwardly many lead normal lives, but inwardly they struggle with abandonment’s post traumatic anxiety and insecurity. Abandonment fear intrudes into their lives, cripples their attempts to form primary relationships, and sabotages their goals. These millions range from glamorous celebrities to everyday people who mask their desperation socially due to pride and shame. Ah, the vicious cycle of shame!

But if you were to meet a roomful of these people (you’d meet many at an abandonment workshop), you would see there is nothing wrong with them. They are loveable, attractive, interesting and entirely attachment-worthy folks. You would see that what they are going through is not their fault, has nothing to do with some inherent loophole inside of them, though they think it does. It is largely circumstantial. Yet they blame it on themselves and on their past (in which many of them remain stuck).

You would also see that each of them is capable of turning their lives around. You actually watch this process begin during a workshop. Gaining a sense of hope, inspiration, and direction is what abandonment recovery is all about. The group provides the motivation needed to get on program – through the power of example and positive peer pressure. This is why I go to the effort of running workshops.

There is no magic bullet for the abandonment syndrome – just a lot of work to change your patterns. But the work is worth it because the program works.

So no matter how helpless and devastated you feel – even if you’re 60 and still struggling to find a relationship and you’re completely isolated from friends and family due to a lack of positive energy – the message is: Commence a new relationship with yourself and get on program. You’ll find your way out.

Indeed many of you have been stuck in your past because you haven’t had enough in your current life to pull you into the present and out of your head. As for the future? It’s terrified you with a dread of crippling loneliness. No matter. Take heart. Join a community of abandonmates on the path to connection.

© Susan Anderson May 11, 2013

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  1. Mayra says:

    Not sure where to start. I feel like I’m suffering from this. I was abandoned by my mother at the age of 9. Now I’m a mother myself, and don’t want this affecting my children.

  2. Admin says:

    Please write to us at so we can offer a personal response to your note.

  3. margie says:

    I was brutally and abruptly dropped by my fiance.this week

    I am having debilitating symptoms of shaking tremors at time and complete lack of appetite, insomnia, obsessive thinking
    bounding solar plexus, foggy thinking
    Just want to curl in fetal posiiton
    It is so painful – Have reached out to friends but they think I am very sad
    It is so much more than that –
    Feeling desperate please reply

  4. Admin says:

    Please reach out via e-mail for a personal response. Your e-mail will not be overlooked! I’m so sorry for your pain, let’s discuss further.

  5. Angela Douglass says:

    Great article, what book would you suggest getting to help learn to work past this? How can you learn to work through this without attending a seminar?

  6. Admin says:

    Thank You!I would recommend starting with “Journey from Abandonment to Healing” and then “Taming your Outer Child.” If you join as a member you can access Susan’s amazing workbook, which offers direction, and could work to some extent in lieu of a workshop. I would recommend using the workbook with a therapist in individual or group setting.

  7. Colin says:

    Hi, I guess I have been traveling through these cycles of loss through out my life and now find myself alone and worn out. It was discovered through a former therapist that I had been taken from my primary care giver twice between my birth and the age of three. The final abandonment being permamnant. The result has been truly devastating. It would be a real god send if I could find a way out.

  8. Mark Perkins says:

    How do I get the workbook, and are there workshops in Dallas, TX?

  9. Admin says:

    Hi! You can download the workbook from our member’s center after joining. Here is the link:

  10. Kari Alva says:

    I’ve been diagnosed with this disorder. My mother bought me into this country n abandoned me 3 yrs later. I was 13 yrs old. I spoke no English nor I had any family or support system. I haven’t had communication or spoken to my father since leaving my country. We use to be very closed. I’ve suffered sexual, physical n emotional assaults while living in the streets. I’ve overcome all those things but The devastation left in me its overwhelming. I have no family n no friends. Some days I wanna live n some days I don’t know if I’m gonna make it. My children are keeping me alive. God help me. My heart goes out to everyone in this forum.

  11. Hello says:

    Hello. I relate very much to this article and symptoms. The problem is my pop and mom never physically left me. They were just never emotionLly there for me. Is this the same concept? Every therapist I have been to has told me to start with my parents. It is a direct link to my current adult choices and self sabatoge. Thoughts? Thank you

  12. Rosel says:

    Great and helpful article. I learned so much about what i have and it helped me and my husband understand what i am experiencing and the tools i need to overcome this.

  13. chris says:

    I am very interested in this topic. I was abandoned when i was 6 months pregnant and never saw the father again. After 20 years, I am having ptsd symptoms as I try to navigate a new relationship. I feel like it is happening all over again-

  14. Claire says:

    I have just realised that I might have abandonment issues that are effecting me as an adult.
    When I was 9 my mother died, after that my father all but ignored me and focused all his attention on my younger brother and sister. im 28 now and have never really had a romantic relationship although I have many fantastic friendships. Does anyone recommend any books or YouTube videos on the subject to move me forward?

  15. Anna says:

    I recognize too much and started crying.. I’m in the phase of “how do I please stop this, because it’s happening again and I don’t want to”… it’s good to read this, because I’ve been thinking there’s something so deeply wrong with me..

  16. J says:

    Hello, My mom ditched out on me when I was a year old. Hadn’t thought much of it lately until recently. I had an incredible relationship this last year or so but began to suffer needless anxiety within it. I sought help, trying to figure it out before it got in the way of the relationship I thought was the best I ever had. Sort of unrelated, but maybe not, she broke up with me suddenly for external reasons (her parents thought her too young for me) while I was away for two weeks. She gradually ceased text messages and phone calls during this time. Somehow I knew instantly what was going on, though not exactly why, and was, I believe, having a nervous breakdown. Never experienced that kind of hell before. Or maybe I was reliving it–either way, we are now broken up and I still feel completely lost, isolated and unsure of what to do. I’m back in school right now too and am having a very hard time concentrating or taking any joy in it at all. Anything, really. I feel lost and want to remove this terrible part of my life, if possible. Any help would be great.

  17. J says:

    Thanks so much for your prompt reply. Let me just say this again: I am in hell.

  18. Ana says:

    The past few years I have constantly felt like I’m “looking” for something. What feels like I’m always searching for acceptance and reciprocation of feelings from someone who is emotionally unavailable and has been very clear about it, after 3 years I find myself painfully coming to the realisation I have this disorder. My parents were divorced and I never felt like my mother who raised me was emotionally there for me. I grew up always trying to please others in attempt to be “loved” or lovable and was always very attached to my friendships. I recognize the self sabotages inflicted during relationships and can relate to the “you never cared anyway”, “prove it”, and silent treatments at very minor

  19. Ana says:

    Actions which led to huge arguments that never should have happened. I recognize the self deprecating emotional rollarcoaster I go through at tiny instances that he doesn’t want me. Now, we don’t even talk and it kills me slowly inside.

  20. Robyn Daniels says:

    I found this series of articles interesting and helpful. In your list of people abandoned you have not included people like me who were emotionally, physically and sexually abused by a father and abandoned emotionally by a mother who knew the abuse was going on and when she eventually left after I disclosed what my father had done to her, she left me with my grandfather (whom I loved and trusted) and took the two youngest children with her. She came back to the family and I stayed with them till I left to go to college. A dysfunctional family indeed but one where I felt so alone though physically in the house and family for a long time after the ‘abandonment’ of me began when I was 6 or 7. I tried to love and trust men and was in three long term relationships (two of whom knew of my history of abuse) – one for 8 years wherein I gave birth to a daughter, one of 12 years and one of 8 years. But always eventually came betrayal and secrets from the men I loved. I recognise it as a pattern now and have spent long years in therapy. It has all finally ended for me with the death of my brother (who also abused me sexually) 6 months ago. I have finally been able to let it all go. However, my final wrestling with my childhood history brought problems for my daughter two whom I abandoned (in her eyes and I guess I did – when my relationship with her father broke down when he admitted homosexuality and I told him to leave). I left my daughter with my mother during the week whilst I studied in order to be able to support myself and my daughter – this was for about a year. And again later I left her with her father’s family whilst I struggled with my own life issues. She eventually came to live with me permanent ly again once I had a good job but then a series of serious life events (my own mother dying, abandonment by my last lover after I became pregnant and had an abortion at his request) – I had a kind of breakdown and my daughter went to live with her dad. I understood when a year later I wanted to take her back she didn’t want any further instability. We got a bit closer when her own children were born and she said she understood why I did the things I did but I now realise she is struggling with her own abandonment issues and is currently in a phase of no-contact. I went through this with my own mother when I blamed her for stuff having previously seen her as blameless. I moved past it and I hope my daughter will too. It takes a along time to work through all this stuff but I agree you have to see yourself as loveable. I am currently living on my own and like it that way. I went to live in Turkey for 4 years and now am in France for 2 years – finding myself – and I believe I have found the inner peace I sought and have not precluded the notion of finding someone to love who will love me in return. Thank you for the insights you offer but as I said there is another kind of abandonment by parents that children like myself endure who stay in loveless and destructive marriages and dysfunctional families – supposedly for the sake of the children. God save us all.

  21. blue says:

    I have been struggling with these feelings and returning to the same emotional place every 5 or so years. Myself and my older brother were left at my grandma’s while my mom was off with her new guy and my dad went off to Vietnam. They both started new families and we don’t fit in to either one. I carry this weight of rejection and hurt that I just can’t seem to let go of. So many people in my family can’t understand why I am still angry over my childhood and just can’t let it go. The thing is it is never discussed and never has been. It is this script that others keep repeating to me. I just want to move on. I moved away from my family because of this and yet I have been struggling of late as I have watched my brother who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia be ignored. While my half brothers and sisters have been allowed to do whatever they want. And they are helped through whatever they need. So thanks for letting me whine as they say. So hard to carry this weight on my own.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    The man I care deeply about is a lovely man but in his childhood he suffered from emotionally absent parents, some physical abuse, and was actually left with strangers for several months while his parents traveled. The VA diagnosed him with chronic PTSD but that was in the post-Vietnam era. He was referred to peer support groups and got no professional help.On the outside he is a fully functioning person but he has finally admitted to being frightened beyond words of close relationships. I have learned about this little by little over the three years we have been together, but MY problem is that I believe people can change (with support) and he believes that he cannot. So we have blowups about once a year when I get really frustrated with the times when he is distant and seemingly unfeeling and uncaring. Then he tells me a little bit more which teaches me more about what to understand better and how to support him a little more, and lets me know that he still wants our relationship to continue. I won’t let him not talk to me but it takes a lot of work to support him. I would like to find ways to be more effective, and to know what I could ask of him, even though I know that this kind of PTSD is never cured.

  23. Sarah says:

    My life is lead by fear of abandonment, down to every little T. I’m 25years old and I always thought it was the world around me but i have a major issue with this and I can’t think of one person I trust, I self sabatoge every opputinity. Lots of things have happened in my past that are kept hidden and “blocked”. I want to learn how to trust feel good about myself and be in a mutual understanding realationship without drama occurring because of my constant need for reassurance. I just don’t know we’re to start to get the right help.

  24. John C. says:

    Both my parents abandoned my brother and me. He was
    A few months old and I was three . We were subsequently
    ignored for life. We both managed to succeed and lose too.
    My brother has given up after raising three daughters ,and
    Is letting, himself die. I am still very much alive and intend
    To keep it that way… alone. A form of revenge? Another 20
    years and age 100 will be final.

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