Tag Archives: abandonment

Windshield Wiperblades and Abandonment

Abandonment seems to be a recent theme in my life. I blogged about it on February 24th http://www.healingjourneyblog.com/2014/02/24/abandonment/ and it kicked back up again today. It’s amazing to me how quickly and easily abandonment issues can cloud seemingly simple situations.  I was leaving the parking lot of my office and noticed that there was a small leaf stuck in the windshield wiper.  We were in the middle of a storm and there had been a lull, so I got out to lift the windshield wiper to remove the leaf so I wouldn’t have a streak on my windshield driving home.  I lifted the windshield wiper, and it came off completely. Here’s what I was worried about driving in. rain video

This is what I was afraid my drive would look like. Image courtesy of designtaxi.com

Now, this is a seemingly simple thing, right? Oops.  Pull into a parking space and reconnect it, and go home.  If  you don’t struggle with abandonment issues, that’s probably what you would do.  However, my heart clenched, my throat closed, and old fears of being lost and alone rose up, paralyzing me.  What was I going to do? I couldn’t figure it out! My stress level instantly spiked and rage engulfed me.  I needed to get home, and now I couldn’t.  I called my husband, choking back tears and raging at him what do I need to do!?!?!? My beloved Ernie, well used to and unaffected by these tear storms other than to comfort me, told me to take a deep breath and drive to the local car repair shop. Other fears kicked up….I didn’t want to look stupid.  Dumb woman who can’t put a simple windshield wiper back on.  It’s amazing how your self-talk can beat the living crap out of you without anyone seeing it on the outside. I drove to the mechanic, and sat in my car for a few minutes, trying to calm myself down and let the tears subside. I went into the shop and the kind manager tried to fix it for me, but no go. He couldn’t figure out the mechanics of the connection either.  Is it terrible to say I felt a little bit better and a little less stupid right then? He asked me to pull into a service bay and called a few mechanics over.  Another man tried and he couldn’t figure it out. Then they called in their heavy hitter.  He worked on it, trying to figure out the lever. Finally he got the mechanism open and fixed it.  I almost burst into tears. I could make it home now!windshield wiper He shook my hand. I kissed his hand and then kissed him on the neck, thanking him profusely.  He smiled, embarrassed and said it was no big deal.  He was probably puzzled about why this woman was so overwrought over a broken windshield wiper. I stressed the entire drive home, praying that the windshield wiper would hold and I could get home safely to Ernie.  When I got home I collapsed on the bed, the tears that had been threatening the entire drive finally able to release. I sobbed and Ernie, wonderful Ernie, held me in his arms and told me I was safe, that everything was okay.IMG_1625 Abused children grow up to become adults with deep abandonment fears.  They are not logical fears, yet they are 100% real fears.  It wasn’t the windshield wiper that was worrying me. It was that I couldn’t go home, that I didn’t know what to do.  My life had shrunk in a few seconds down to the size of a windshield wiper blade. It’s not rational, but it’s real, and it’s a horrible feeling. I also blog at www.SusysMusings.com and check out this other blog on abandonment http://www.susysmusings.com/2014/03/06/sentri-pass-healing

Abandonment and the SENTRI Pass

Abandonment can be trigged by seemingly small things. I made a wrong turn on the way to get my SENTRI pass and ended up in Mexico lost and overwhelmed. My husband was in the car behind me. Garmin had directed us incorrectly and I was kicking myself mentally for not coming down earlier and figuring out where the location to get our SENTRI pass was. And no one can mentally berate me better than I can do to myself.

Mexico Customs form

This form allowed us to go home. Now I could nurse my abandonment issues in Ernie’s arms

When we drove to our appointment I gave us over an hour to get there and get situated. We only live 15 minutes from the border so I didn’t anticipate any challenges even if there was unexpected non rush hour traffic. An hour should be more than plenty of time, right?  My abandonment issues go back to my father’s militaristic insistence that if you are on time, you are already 15 minutes late.  And believe me, the last thing I ever wanted was to face his wrath.  He specialized in cutting people to the quick with humiliating words.

I was panicking.  What to I do?  I knew that if I got into Mexico proper I wouldn’t have the faintest clue on how to get to the border line.  Plus Ernie and I were I separate cars and if I went through a light and lost him, how would he get back? (Part of my childhood programming is I am responsible for others). At this point my stress level was skyrocketing.

I had only seconds to make a decision, and I veered over to the “Something to Declare” line.  I figured this was we had to be stopped, and I would ask for directions back to the border crossing.  I pulled into a parking space.

All my old childhood fears of being punished for making a mistake swamped me. I burst into tears and started to shake. I have always had a fear of being lost and abandoned and to be in Mexico and have absolutely no idea how to get home brought all those old fears and feelings to the surface. It had nothing to do with being in Mexico. It had to do with being lost.


Abandonment issues….being so close to home on the other side of that fence and not knowing how to get home.

A customs officer approached me and when he saw me crying, tried to get me to calm down. I could tell the poor man was bewildered. Why is this woman so distraught?  Ernie came over and said “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this.” Wonderful Ernie, always there for me.

What he didn’t know was I was panicking that he would finally, after 20 years together, show me the monster that he must have inside of him.  I transferred all my father-abuse fears onto him at that moment.  Is it rational? Of course not.  Was it real for me at that moment? You bet it was.  Even though he is the kindest person I have ever met, my inner child was trembling, waiting for the punishment of loss of love from him.

Ernie dealt with the customs officers and got us a pass to get back into the line.  He gave me a hug and told me he loved me.  I was still shaking.  He has lived with this internal fears of mine for two decades and is an old pro at staying calm and helping me out of these painful episodes.

SENTRI pass parking lot

Abandonment means feeling lost even if you are at home. Abandonment issues can be triggered by seemingly mundane events

We drove to the SENTRI place (the border guard gave us correct info) and were told that because it had been over an hour since our appt and no one was available, we would have to reschedule.  I was fine with that and did so.

Ernie didn’t turn into a monster that day. He will never turn into a monster.  I chose well when I chose my life partner.

Will this fear and anxiety about abandonment ever disappear? I’m 48 years old now, have been through extensive therapy and self-help books and workshops, and it’s still there.  It’s coded into my DNA at this point.  All I can do is learn to manage it, which I have done. But it still rears its ugly head in stressful situations.

I wish you the best on your healing journey




I am prone to nightmares.  When I can remember them, my dreams are usually a crazy mosaic of jumbled scenes that have no relation to each other, but sometimes there is an entire story line inside, and my nightmare is as vivid as any movie I can watch on the big screen.

Tonight’s nightmare touched on many of my core fears —- abandonment, loss of sense of self, fear of loss.  My nightmare started out with military helicopters hovering in the park behind our house. In my nightmare Ernie called them either Blackhawks or Sea Stallions. I know my brain grabbed the fact that Ernie loves watching the Military Channel and was a Green Beret in Vietnam. What he found fascinating terrified me. There were six of them, grouped the way a gang does watching a fight, in a semi-circle.  They were huge, black, anonymous symbols of authority and bullying in my dream.  I know this kicks back to my father who was a MP in WWII and was a bully who used his badge and authority to take what he wanted from people.  He liked to strip me of any sense of self and personal space

Image courtesy of Tim Beach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tim Beach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There were other unidentifiable shapes hovering in the air, and a felt a visceral fear in my nightmare that even right now while I’m awake typing this, I can still feel in my body.  My heart is racing, my breath is shallow, I’m jittery as I write this.

Ernie thought the helicopters were doing maneuvers, but I knew that in my nightmare their purpose was far worse.  And I was quickly proven right when the helicopters started razing our house with bullets and missiles. The bully was attacking in the night.  That also goes back to my relationship with my father as a young girl.

As is the way of nightmares, even though I could hear and feel the bullets hitting our house, my nightmare switched and now the police were at my front door, demanding entrance. They had a search warrant, I was being accused of some unnamed crime.  From inside, I asked for their search warrant, and instead they rammed the door open and broke the door frame.  Dozens of men swarmed the house, and the leader pointed to a yellow sticky note attached to the very top of our front door that I could not reach. (I’m only 5’4″) Ernie pulled it off and it was a search warrant that the postman had apparently left for us.  I know, random, but nightmares are like that.  They dig at hidden memories, stir up primal fears, frighten us with images that we sometimes cannot understand the meaning behind

The faceless police started scouring our house, ripping paintings off the wall, smashing glass, punching holes in the wall.  All the time my pleas for why this was happening went unanswered. They broke down the back door, thus leaving me completely exposed and defenseless to the outside world.

Suddenly I was no longer at the house.  I knew they were still there, ripping my life apart and exposing my fears, but I couldn’t get back home.  I was walking along familiar streets from my childhood and young adult hood, but they were a patchwork of streets from different cities I have lived in, and every time I thought I was getting closer to my home, another street appeared that took me further away.  I tried climbing stairs, only to have them turn into an oil-covered ramp that I kept slipping on.  A man offered to help me, but as I reached for him he let me fall.   My nightmare was having a field day with my deeply rooted fear of abandonment.

Ernie showed up then and grabbed my hand, stopping me from falling. Ernie is my knight in shining armor, the only man I have ever fully trusted, and he came to my rescue once again. Suddenly we were in front of our house, but it wasn’t a house anymore.  It was a skeleton picked clean by the police and looters. It looked like one of those old-time brick houses that have been abandoned, the roof caved in, weeds reclaiming the concrete floor for the earth. My entire life, my memories, my belongings, my photos, my dogs, everything that mattered, was gone.  I had ceased to exist in my nightmare. I panicked and thrashed in Ernie’s arms to get to our house, but he held me in an iron vise and told me it didn’t matter, we still had each other.

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I woke up, my heart pounding, my breath shallow, my body tensed. My back ached from the tension my body had felt while my mind was trapped in the nightmare. I felt in the bed, and all three of my beloved dogs were there.  The park behind our house was empty.  Ernie lay next to me, and I grabbed onto him to grab some of his loving, solid energy and put it back into me. He slept on; I must not have thrashed or yelled out in my nightmare.  This nightmare was private and personal, but he was still there protecting me.

.In the past when I was alone, isolated from others inside of myself while smiling in a crowded room, these kinds of nightmares came more frequently.  As I have done the healing work and have learned to trust people, they don’t show up as often.  I call them ‘defragging’ dreams….the computer that is my system is cleaning up random pieces of data that are randomly stored in the hard drive of my brain. They are usually triggered by traumatic events, fears and too much work stress.

My hero

My hero

I am calming down now.  My breathing has steadied, my pulse has slowed.  Getting the words onto the screen has helped purge the last bit of anxiety I held in my body.