Even though the actual abandonment may not be remembered consciously (few of us remember anything before the age of about 2), losing your mother is a traumatic experience, and it can have severe effects in later life – such as:
- difficulties in forming close relationships
- fear of physical or emotional intimacy
- difficulties letting go when a relationship is over
- being overly sensitive to being abandoned (neediness)
- a general feeling that the world is an unsafe place
- low self worth – a deep feeling of being “not good enough”
- a general feeling of searching for something that is never found
- relationship problems (which may take a while to show) – withdrawing, or difficulties in connecting
- bouts of severe anger and/or grief, for no obvious reason
- sleep difficulties (waking up cold and/or hungry, nightmares)
- a feeling of having no place of one’s own, or no home, rootlessness
Over the years, these problems can have a number of “knock-on” effects. It can be difficult to hold down a job, a relationship, a house or to raise a family. Living with someone who suffers from these kinds of problems can be tough on other family members. And yet, serial broken relationships can create a kind of “vicious circle” which can make the emotional state of the sufferer even worse.
It is a difficult cycle to break. To do so, it is necessary to deal with the root cause of the problems – the underlying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which has been present since early childhood. And yet, with no real memory of how things were before the trauma, this is not easy.
I will not pretend that I have any kind of easy answer for this. I do not. However, I can talk about the coping strategies which have helped me, and an account of how I slowly came to realise what my PTSD was doing to me.