Saturday , May 18 2024
It’s unfortunate when we define ourselves as someone who can only believe what others say about us and ignore any good we say about ourselves.

A Helping Hand: Fearing Rejection and Abandonment

I feel extreme emotions. I am very positive or very negative, very happy or very sad. I’ve always felt this way. My relationship is a confusing situation. My fights are like, “Go to hell, I hate you,” and the next moment, “I love you.” My conversations are filled with these extreme emotions. I am not able to work things out. I fear rejection and abandonment all the time. If my boyfriend doesn’t take my calls, I get angry and I’m sure he doesn’t want me. I feel out of control. What can I do? Is this BPD?

If you want to know for sure whether or not you have Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic-Depressive Illness), see your doctor or local clinic. It doesn’t sound like this is the case with you because bipolar episodes last considerably longer than an argument.

Of greater concern is your fear of rejection and abandonment, so it's time to get to the bottom of that. You're mad at the very person you fear losing because they have all the control over whether or not they stay. If they leave, this reinforces your fears of being unworthy and unlovable. This in turn provokes your sadness.

This is crucial, but it isn't the crux of the problem. The bottom line here is that you’re allowing others to define you. If this is how you were raised (to ignore and not trust your own judgment), you’re likely going to look to others to tell you if you’re worthy or not, and loveable or not.

It sounds like you're reading way more into what others say and do than is deserved. You’re giving their words more weight than your own, specifically using their words and behaviors to determine your own worth.

Others do not define us, we do. It is most unfortunate when we define ourselves as someone who can only believe what others say about us and ignore any good we say about ourselves. It’s time for a new definition because this one is clearly not working for you.

Even if someone thinks they do, they do not get to determine whether or not we are loveable or unlovable. Only we can decide that. If we decide we’re unlovable, that belief is reinforced when someone else says the same. Often, those who feel unlovable seek out those who will reinforce this idea because we know the rules of that game. The rules are uncomfortable and often painful, but they’re familiar – and familiarity (and its own comfort) is more important than love to someone who is filled with fear.

We can just as easily decide we’re lovable. Yes, this takes time, especially if you were brought up to believe what others say and ignore your own feelings. Remember, you didn’t come to feel unlovable overnight, either.

I am reminded of an episode of Frasier wherein he comes to realize he’s alone because he’s afraid to be alone. He treated every romantic interest as if she were already on her way out the door because he was sure that’s where she would go eventually anyway. He never thought of himself as lovable, so he never trusted any woman in his life to love him. He drove away the very thing he craved most because he was afraid of losing what he craved most. By making himself the driver he was always in control of the breakup, but this guaranteed he would always be alone – the thing he feared most.

What a humdinger of a moral dilemma, eh?

You do deserve love – and yet you’re not giving it to yourself. If your own love is not good enough for you, how much good is it to others? When we give to others, but never to ourselves, it’s as if we’re handing out our trash and expecting it to be taken as a gift – and then wondering why the other person isn’t happy with it.

It’s often said, “You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself.” This is true. The “love” we think we’re giving (when we don’t love ourselves first) is really us giving over our need to be loved. This is not love; this is need.

Giving our need to someone else to fulfill means suffering when that person leaves – and takes our fulfillment with them. Often, they will leave because they don’t want to be responsible for filling someone else’s voids. If you want to fill the void — and keep it filled — you’ll have to fill it yourself. That way, the love is yours no matter what someone else says or does.

When you love yourself long enough, there will eventually be some overflow. When you share this overflow, you’ll be giving love instead of need. We all like to be shared with, not sucked dry. People stick around for sharing, but not so much for suffocation.

To that end, it's time to cool your romantic heels, take some time to explore and define your own needs and desires, and how you want those needs and desires met. Get to know who you are, figure out where your fears came from, learn to resolve those fears with knowledge of yourself, and give yourself the love you need.

Once you know who you are, what you want, how you want it, and what you have to offer another person, then it might be time to head back into the game.

If you have the resources to get counseling, do it. If you don’t have the money, check with your local community center or medical center. See if they offer free or reduced-fee counseling. If so, take advantage of this to help you resolve the issues you're not addressing that have you expressing yourself the way you do.

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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