You Will Need Help For Out of Control Jealousy Reactions
Written By: Mark Smith
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I was reminded again this week that the most difficult issue that a therapist can face in his or her office is intense jealous reactions or what we call ‘Abandonment Issues’. I had two intense and out of control abandonment related crises banging around my office this week. Abandonment issues are the King Kong gorilla of couple issues. It is not possible to gain too much awareness and insight regarding this subject if you happen to suffer from it.
There are so many different faces to abandonment issues and believe me they are all both ugly and potentially quite harmful to relationships; these faces include the victimy and pouty husband who silently sulks around for days because his wife wasn’t in the mood for sex when his neediness demanded it, the reactive wife who completely ruins a family get together because her husband was 10 minutes late, the boss who cannot fire an employee who should be fired due to his neurotic inability to let go, the depressed and raging husband who simply cannot forgive his wife for her affair after years of dialogue even though his lack of relationship with her was a major contributing factor in her behavior, the husband whose neediness makes his wife want to throw up, the therapist who clings on to her clients, the wife who weeps uncontrollably all throughout a therapy session due to her husband’s distancing, the girlfriend who has a complete meltdown due to her boyfriend hanging out with his buddies for an evening, the husband who freaks out when his wife so much as jokes with another man, or the spouse who shuts down and can’t talk unless their mate gives them their 100% undivided attention. The main problem with abandonment is that when it comes up inside you, it is very much like becoming instantaneously drunk – impaired, reactive, defensive, out of control, non-objective, stubborn and absolutely impossible to speak rationally to. Abandonment issues cloud and distort reality. What you see seems so real, but it is actually a projection from within your own deeply wounded soul.
Abandonment issues come from being abandoned by your parents when you were very young. You do not have to remember the parental abandonment, think it is important or give any credence to it at all for it still to dominate your life. Children are extremely needy little creatures but when those needs aren’t met during childhood then the core of the adult, years later is basically an irrational infantile abandoned little kid. You cannot run from your wounded childhood. The more that you try to bury your wounds the more you attract significant others who treat you in very much the same way that your parents did. As Ann Fairbairn wrote in Five Smooth Stones, “A man cannot cast aside his childhood, though he run from it as he would the devil. He may make of it a burden under which to stumble and fall, or a shield to hide behind, or he may make of it a tool.”
A brutal thing about abandonment issues is that as with all marriages, you will only be attracted to someone who basically has the very worst (disguised) qualities of your abandoning parents. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. At your core you are utterly and completely terrified that your spouse will abandon you, then they eventually do, in some way shape or form because it is their nature to do so; then you spend the rest of the relationship unintentionally but quite obnoxiously chasing them away due to your insecurities. It is a vicious cycle that can easily continue to replay itself until it completely destroys the relationship.
If you and your significant other are suffering from abandonment issues you will need effective help immediately. This problem will not go away on its own. It will only get worse. It is time for you to learn what is causing your pain and then get started on the process of fixing it. The very best thing that can happen to you is to develop a trusting relationship with an unbiased, insightful and courageous therapist. They can serve as your relationship referee until you both have enough recovery under your belts to communicate safely and effectively at home. If you and your spouse suffer from serious abandonment issues then you understand exactly what I mean by needing a referee. Naming the underlying abandonment issue, specifically naming its particular manifestation in that situation and providing a safe place in which to dialogue are all priceless gifts to couples suffering from abandonment issues.
Get started unmasking your particular troublesome green-eyed monster issues right away. Again, this problem will absolutely not get any better on its own. Serious issues call out for some serious help. While the therapeutic process will be painful and messy, with help you can inject hope, direction and positive energy into what might seem now to be a hopeless and irreconcilable relationship.
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