Abandonment is a funny word. We say that we feel “abandoned,” but that locates the speaker not as the subject of a feeling, but the object of an action performed by another. And yet – we imagine that the feeling and the action are one and the same.
We do this with other actions to which we grant feeling status. Rejected, for example. Manipulated. Victimized. Deprived.
Abandonment, of course, need not lead to the feelings we tend to associate with the term. We all are abandoned often – by those we love, by those we like, and buy those we hardly know. Most of the time, abandonment causes barely a stir. How did you feel the last time someone you love, say, left the room?
I was abandoned by my mother three separate times. Today is the anniversary of the last time she abandoned me, by dying. Up until then, she wasn’t really good at abandoning me, but she was good at leaving. More than thirty years ago today, she did it well.
As a result of all this abandonment, I’m hypersensitive. I can perceive it without a whole lot of evidence that anyone actually, truly, has abandoned me. And then, when I do imagine I perceive it? I catch a particular constellation of very familiar feelings.
I feel some of those feelings in my body. My chest tightens, my shoulders lift, my neck gets stiff, my breaths grow shallow. My left calf often cramps. Often, I feel a headache akin to a migraine.
I feel other feelings more cognitively, in my mind. I feel afraid. I feel powerless. I feel sad. I feel shame. And, inevitably, I grow angry.
By this point in my life, it’s as familiar as, say, “Let It Be.”
The abandonment song is one I’ve heard played at least as many times. More, probably.
Nowadays? I usually manage to see what’s happening soon enough to manage my actions (if not my feelings). I tend not to allow myself to lash out in anger, or to act in ultimately self-destructive, desperate ways.
But the feelings?
Alas I’m stuck with them.
Note: technical difficulties resulted in my writing two versions of the same post. This is the first one I wrote, and lost. You can find my second one, done in frustrated fury (WordPress is fucking me hard), for your delectation, here.