This site is part confessional, part self-help guide. I have several reasons for creating it. I am a man in my mid 50’s, a father of two and with a busy and active life. I was also abandoned by my mother as a baby. Over the years, I have spent a lot of energy dealing with the emotional damage caused by that.
I feel that there is not enough real help for people like me, and that what there is is often inadequate. The abandonment of a baby or young child is a very traumatic thing, and even talking about it can make people uncomfortable – like other forms of child abuse.
I have found some self-help books useful, others less so. (I will mention those that have helped me in a while.) Much has been written about forgiveness, affirmations, and so on, but some of it is, in my experience, of little practical use, or even counter-productive.
Abandonment is a form of child abuse which can leave the victim in a mental and emotional state that might be best described as “disconnected “. Later in life, this damages the ability to form good relationships and, in general, to be have a happy life. But what can help the victim?
First, we need a clear understanding of how abandonment affected us, as an infant. If it occurred before we had any conscious memories, it is difficult to “backtrack”. But there are ways. By understanding what “normal”development should have been, and how it was disrupted, the fragments of our own shattered childhood can, like pieces of a broken glass, be picked up, examined, and carefully pieced together and re-assembled. In practical terms, I mean to say that, in time, we can begin to see how the damage has been affecting our lives, and avoid its most painful consequences. Usually these take the form of self-destructive habits towards ourselves and others. This is certainly not easy – but it is far easier than continued suffering.
People who have suffered abandonment have to deal with it, every single day. I still experience occasional but regular outbursts of grief, mostly in private moments. If you witnessed these without knowing me, you might think they were for no reason at all. These days, I know very well what causes this, and I have found ways to handle it. But when I was younger, because I had absolutely no idea what was going on, I bounced between thinking that this was normal (everyone must be like this!), and feelings of terror at my own fragile condition. Low self-worth was also a big problem. Not knowing what was afflicting me, or why it caused me problems, multiplied my suffering.
So, I want to try to offer an account of my experiences, as a helping hand to others, of any age, who might need it. I want to give some of the advice that I would have given to a younger version of myself.
Also – this is, perhaps, a kind of personal exorcism for me. There is a large part of my character that very few know anything of. It is personal, yes, but why should it be secret? I know, now, that what happened to me was no fault of mine, and, finally, I feel no shame about it. Why should I? I just want to explain to the world what it means to have grown up without a mother. I want to tell my story. It feels like the time to do so.
A word of explanation for men and women
I am a man, so of course, I write with the perspective of a man.
There are subtle differences between parents and their children of the same or opposite gender. It is often said, by psychological people, that our parents are in some ways, our first lovers or partners. Future relationships will echo those we had in childhood. I think that there is a lot of truth in that. I am quite certain that men whose mothers left them will have certain types of problems in their relationships with women, as I have had. So these are the things that I feel able, because of direct experience, to talk about.
But of course, maternal abandonment also has severe consequences for women. Only a woman who has experienced this can say, for herself, what these may be. And what of gay men? I don’t know. In fact, every person has his or her own story to tell, each with many differences in circumstance and detail.
Ultimately, all that I can do here is tell my own story, share my own experience, and describe the things that I have learned. I hope that others might use this as a starting point, and find it useful in their own personal journey.
I wish you all the very best, whatever the past or current situation of your life.