I like to think the abandoned house
is happy, burden-free, collapsing into itself
like a body that has had enough of living
and is ready to let go, to relinquish
its heart to any weather, thankful
to be at home in nature.
The Beauty of Abandonment~Jane Ellen Glasser
There are some really neglectful parents out there. Have you been one of them? In my reading, I’ve discovered mothers who abandon their children if they only have one instead of two or three and those who think more than one is just too many to care for. There are mothers who stick around for twelve days and mothers who destroy any children fathered by their husbands with other females. It’s crazy to think how strange some mothers and parents are, but they are out there – (Black Bear, Panda, Harp Seal, and House Sparrow, respectively) The animal world can be harsh, and sometimes the human world can be, too. Glasser’s poem is a reminder that abandonment can even be like the gentle letting go we hope for at the end of a life.
“Abandon” is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it immediately brings me feelings of sadness and as a noun, feelings of joy. I prefer the noun, but it’s the verb that controls so much in our lives, isn’t it? Beginning with those who were abandoned at birth in the human world, left in uncertain circumstances of foster care or with a single parent who struggled from the first day of trying to do it alone, the fear of being abandoned begins early and plays out in many places and in many ways. People who were abandoned by a love interest or by friends will often struggle to ever give themselves fully again to similar relationships. Abandonment affects people more than many of us realize. Maybe it’s affected you, and you are not even aware.
When people are mean, rude, sarcastic, or condescending, they are usually afraid of something, and fear of being abandoned by friends or family or life is a very real possibility. Oddly, their actions are the very things that will push people away. These folks are called abandonees. Some abandonees, however, are very nice and rather fragile at times. There’s no set description.
The first time I heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it was not in reference to abandonment, but it turns out it is a common cause. Shut out, locked out, or left on our own at an early age (physically or emotionally), we need tools to stay in a healthy place mentally and physically. Looking at what professionals suggest, I’ve come away with a few basic steps to get on the right track:
- Admit/Identify what made you feel abandoned in the beginning.
- Identify/Accept that you are feeling what you are feeling now. You might feel hopeless, but that doesn’t make it a fact.
- Determine to step out of the thinking of a victim and step into thoughts of repair and success.
Finding friends who can validate the pain you are experiencing matters, and people who minimize it or tell you to get over something that happened to you as a kid or last year are not going to be very helpful in your journey.
As I sit writing with the window open, I hear the papa and mama cardinals calling to each other. She has been sitting on a nest while he has been out doing whatever papa cardinals do in preparation for the birth of their young.
I wish for each of us to have someone singing a song which we can answer and for each of us to have someone answer us when we put out the call. May we live with abandon, never feel abandoned, and find comfort in the abandonment that comes in our final days, as a house that collapses burden-free into the earth.