Last week we looked at the scenarios that led us to feeling rejected or abandoned. How do we take positive steps to take back our power and not feel the victim of someone else’s decisions? We may need to look back further than the current situation to find our healing. Sometimes these feelings of abandonment start as a child. Were you ever in a supermarket or fair and you could not find your parents? Did you parents neglect to spend a lot of time with you, leaving you to your own devises or a long line of child minders?
Parents that were not available to you to nurture the bond that should be between parent and child. Perhaps your parents were divorced, and you could not bond with one or the other parent at a time when your greatest need was to feel safe and protected. This may have led you into unhealthy attachments to caregivers or a romantic partner when you did find someone who took care of you. Instead of a relationship based on mutual care and love, you fell into a co-dependency role in an unhealthy relationship that led to divorce.
As a widow you may feel more intense grief at the death of your partner, feeling abandoned. In the school grounds you felt abandoned and rejected when your best friend went off with someone else and you were shunned from the group. These are the roots that make us feel these emotions more intensely and if they have been a habitual pattern in your life may continue to plague you until they are recognized and dealt with.
So how do we get past this feeling of abandonment and rejection? First, you need to stop believing that you were not good enough or it was all your fault. (This could be from the childhood root). Start to nurture yourself, where you felt you lacked, start making time to fill those places with self-love and care. Take yourself out to the movies or a cup of coffee and cake, something that will feed your soul. Listen to beautiful music, it washes your heart with tears. Read good books, and if you are not a reader, listen to podcasts, but especially listen to the Word of God. If you read the Psalms, you will find so many that meet your heart’s cry for answers. It is beautiful, when you come across a Psalm that speaks directly to your need, a message from God. Psalm 94:14 “The Lord will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.” When we think we are unlovable and nobody will ever care for us again, remember that God who created you loves you and is there to help you through this dark place.
Don’t beat yourself up over the what ifs’ focus on replacing old memories with new memories and dreams of another future. Celebrate the good times and create an action plan for the future. I have found it to be much easier if you have a clean break. If you are divorced minimize contact to basics or via a third person. Put emotional distance (physical environment too if possible) between you. Heal your heart before dating again otherwise your same lack of confidence and unhealthy attachment pattern may rise up to sabotage you.
Clear out the cupboards, get rid of items that bring back memories that hurt. I gave my wedding pictures to the children. Or if widowed just making a special album or decorating s corner in your home to remember your departed where you can go when you want to remember. Make a space for your new future to emerge.
It is not helpful to follow your ex on social media or get the kids to spy on him. Keep taking back your own life by making new memories to replace the old hurtful ones. Visit new places, do things that you did not do with him. On a rough day, do hard physical exercise, walk run, play a sport. Scrub floors, whatever it takes to get it out of your system.
Spend time with friends or family, people who have your back and will listen to you. Join in community activities like hiking clubs, art or book clubs, try to find ones that are not couples orientated. Reinvent yourself – reassess your values and start doing the things that make you happy. Make some new life goals, set yourself challenges, learn new skills. Set goals that encompasses spiritual, mental, physical and emotional aspects so you grow in all areas.
There is a lot of learning to be done in this space, finding yourself again, and what you want for the future. It is often helpful to make a vision board of what you would like your life to be like. This is all part of recovering your sense of self-worth – learn new skills so you can feel you have achieved something, that really gives you a boost. Continue to grow mentally, spiritually, and physically and you will see how they all work together to help you grow emotionally. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations and Bible verses that say you are beloved by God. I took Art Classes and painted my heart out, just the positive feedback from another human being may be all you need to build your self confidence again. Walk away from anyone who want to criticize and deride you and set boundaries on your own and other people’s behavior towards you.
Most of all learn to enjoy your own company while you are working through this loss, rather like a butterfly when it is in the chrysalis, quietly transforming on the inside, until you are ready to emerge in glorious technicolor.