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.
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.
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.
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