Any family that is governed by shame also practices consistently abandoning others. By abandonment we don't just mean to physically abandon; we are also talking about emotional abandonment. Anytime a parent ‘shamed' us they also abandoned us. They abandoned the very core of us that is intrinsic to our soul.
The shame tells us, the child, that we are not acceptable the way we are and, in order for us to survive the shame, we had to abandon ourselves. By abandoning ourselves we had to disbelieve our inner belief (that everyone has when they are born) that we were OK.
A Core Principle of Human Development
When a child is raised in a shame based, dysfunctional family, his/her only way to survive is to suppress any autonomous feelings and believe what the adults tell him/her. The shame speaks louder than words and soon becomes the overriding driver in his development. He will develop ways of behaving and being in order to fit in with the family rules that say ‘You, the child, are wrong and we, the parents, are right.'
There are common threads that are prevalent in all dysfunctional families that are at the roots of abandonment. These are:
The parents see the child as an extension of themselves
The parents do not see their child as a perfectly formed human being in their own right
Any anger or aggression that the child displays is quickly snuffed out because it threatens the parents
The child has to please the parents at all time to ensure his own survival
The child cannot depend on his parents because they are not functional enough to see that the child has separate needs than they have
The child cannot see his parent’s with a critical eye and question their authority because this would threaten the child's existence with his parents. No challenging is allowed
Because the parents have not accepted some of their own feelings to be ‘allowable' such as anger, jealousy and sexuality, the child is not allowed to express this feelings either
The child is not allowed to challenge the parents' authority status.
By playing out this game of pretense, the parents have to abandon their child in order for them (the parents) to survive. If they didn't abandon their child the child may feel safe enough to challenge these threads, which are common to dysfunctional families.
In functional families, the children are allowed to:
Challenge their parent's rules
Believe they will be loved no matter what they say or do
Have no fear of being hit, raged at or experience other types of abandonment
Feel confident that if they over step the boundaries, they will be shown back towards the boundary line, with a loving hand
Believe that it's OK for them to be different to their parents
Never have any inclination of fulfilling their parents' needs
Know they can experience their sense of sexuality without shame
When a child is continuously abandoned they suffer from psychological trauma. As adults we may still act out this trauma and we will cover this in a later Step.
Abandonment examples are:
Being left all day with carers or in a nursery
Coming home to an empty house after school at an age where it left you feeling isolated and alone
Hurting yourself but knowing it would not benefit you by running to a parent for help for fear of being told that you've ‘done it again' or had been ‘up to mischief'
Hiding things or hiding yourself when you made a mistake like breaking something
You were bullied at school but your couldn't speak to your parents for fear of a reprisal or being told it's your fault
You got into trouble and, again, you knew it was easier to deal with the police than going to your parents for help
Make a list of the times you felt abandoned by your parents when you were a child. Give the details to include your age, where you were and what happened: