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Kia Stephens

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July 2, 2017

For the Woman With Abandonment Issues

July 2, 2017 | By | 20 Comments

I had an imaginary frenemy well into adulthood.  She wasn’t a figment of my imagination created to keep me company; hers was the company I did not want to keep.  She emerged as a byproduct of growing up without my dad.  

With access to my most private thoughts she manipulated me into believing I was not enough.  My intelligence, appearance, and value,  all left something to be desired.  “After all, why else would my father leave?”  

Consequently, I began to accept the lie that in order to keep relationships I needed to perform.  Perfect performance became my anecdote for abandonment.  I did my best to walk the tightrope of precision: dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  

I was the embodiment of what Robert S. McGee calls the approval addict in his book,  The Search for Significance.  Strung out on the opinions of others, I desperately needed you to be okay with me so I could be okay.  Intermingled in this unhealthy and codependent cocktail was a facade of control;  if you approved of me then maybe it would be enough to make you stay.  

So every time I smiled though I was hurting, kept silent when I wanted to speak, or lied to keep the peace, I was subliminally saying, “Stay!”

Don’t go, walk away or leave the room.

Resist the urge to hang up the phone.

Choose to lean in when you want to run.

Speak when you’d rather be quiet.

Make eye contact when you want to look the other way.

Don’t abandon me.

Because if your actions hint at the possibility of you leaving it will trigger the return of my frenemy; her name is abandonment issues.

Like clockwork, she would sashay into my life stirring up anxiety like a pot of gumbo: causing me to fear the prospect of anyone ever leaving me.  I can trace her presence all the way back to my childhood.  And then as I navigated the murky and dangerous waters of adolescence she was there too.  She even joined me at the altar when I said, “I do”.

 Ashamedly, she operated in my life undetected and unrestrained.  In fact, it wasn’t until my thirties that I began to bulldoze skyscrapers of fear she erected in my life.   And as I began to put in the laborious work of becoming healthy I discovered my frenemy had friended others.  In her book, “Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely” Lysa Terkeurst describes the inner thoughts of a woman abandoned by her father.

“A girl without a daddy felt to me like a girl without a place in this world.  After all, if he couldn’t love me, who would ever love me?” . . . She went on to say, “Rejection settled deep into my heart, And I came to one earth-shattering conclusion:  ‘I don’t matter.  I am worth nothing to my dad.’  And even more disturbing, ‘I fear I am worth nothing to God.’  The sum of these feelings became my new identity.  Who is Lysa?  The unwanted one.”

These words, laced with poison, spoke of the intoxicating influence abandonment issues play in the life of a girl and a woman.  The damage inflicted is not a one time occurrence but can be hauntingly relived in every subsequent relationship with the opposite sex. With every boyfriend, fiance and husband the question of whether he will leave too has the potential to linger like an unwanted house guest.  

Which is why I cringed at the announcement Lysa Terkeurst made just 3 weeks ago.  In her honest and hope saturated post, she told the world she was getting a divorce. Pulling back the covers on an already public life she placed her most intimate scars on display, revealing her husband’s affair and his unwillingness to leave his mistress.

Immediately, my mind went back to Lysa’s words in the Uninvited book. “Who is Lysa?  The unwanted one.”  I imagined the presence of my frenemy lurking in the silence, waiting for the optimum moment to say, “I told you so.  You are unwanted.”

I thought about Lysa.

I thought about me.

I thought about you.

And then I prayed because reoccurring abandonment hits women who’ve been abandoned like a 1-2 punch:  forcing us to face compounding pain.  And as I prayed I found encouragement in the brave truth Lysa recounted in her blog post.

“I’m Lysa, a beloved child of the one true God. My true identity doesn’t shift or fall apart under life’s strains, failures, my own imperfections, setbacks or heartaches. While people—even God’s people—change, I’m so glad I serve a God who doesn’t.”

 

In the midst of her agony she demonstrated how to combat the lies of our relentless frenemy with the truth of God’s word.  God’s love for us is constant.  Others may come and go but His love will remain forever.  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38 – 39 (NIV)

We do not have to live in fear: second guessing the commitment of the men in our lives.  Nor do we have to perform to keep them.  We are free to be the women God has created us to be, resting in the fact that we are already loved, wanted and completely accepted by our Father in Heaven.  His love never changes.

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Comments

  1. Very well said! We find freedom in knowing God’s love is constant and never changing. Very encouraging Kia!

    • Thanks Christina! It’s hard to fathom some of our closest relationships ever changing but it is encouraging to know that even if they do God never will. Thanks for joining the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  2. If only we could lean into the truth every day that we are a “beloved Child of the most high God.” This changes everything!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Musings — June 2017My Profile

    • Amen Michele. I echo these sentiments for me and every woman that needs it! Thanks for your words and be blessed! – Kia

  3. Lisa’s announcement was heartbreaking, and though I don’t know that I’ve had abandonment issues–I know what it is like to live in fear that people will reject you–to live trying to do everything you can to keep the love of those around you. Thank you for sharing your story and this important message that God’s is a love that will never leave us and it is one we never have to earn. There is so much freedom and fullness in His love.
    Melissa Schlies recently posted…5 Things I’m doing this summer that I think You should do too!My Profile

    • Melissa, thanks for your vulnerability. I can totally relate to the words you shared in your comments. Everyday I am learning to embrace God’s love as the most important love there is! Some days I am stronger than others but I am so grateful that His love never changes. Thank you for joining this conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  4. Hi Kia. You write so poignantly about the fear of abandonment. I struggled with it for most of my life as a child of divorce. God has helped me overcome it, and I’m so thankful. My heart is also burdened for Lysa. I’m praying for her not to fall into the trap of that fear.

    • Sarah thank you for being so vulnerable in this space. Honestly, I still sense that fear creeping up in me even now. I am more self aware however. I felt the need to write this post because of how vulnerable Lysa was in both her book and her blog post. I will be praying for her as well, along with the readers of this blog that we might boldly live in the love and acceptance of God our Father. Thanks for joining the conversation today and be blessed! – Kia

  5. My heart hurt when I read Lysa’s announcement. As it relates to marriages I know the enemy is using whatever tools he can to destroy them. Like a previous poster, I don’t know that I have experienced abandonment issues but I have experienced a lack of trust which leads to fear. Quoting and living out the scripture is my antidote. And the only way I can do that is to spend significant time in the Word so that I can know it.
    nylse recently posted…Women of The Word – Pastor Andrea HumphreyMy Profile

    • Scripture is our anecdote Nylse. In every circumstance we can definitely turn to the word of God. Thanks for you comments today and be blessed. – Kia

  6. This is so timely as I navigate these as I come through navigating these waters. Love your love for Him. Thank you!

    • I am thankful this post was an encouragement to you Carolina. I pray God’s love and complete acceptance would overwhelm you. Thanks for joining the conversation today and be blessed! – Kia

  7. Awesome post! I too found myself thinking back to those days of feeling abandoned, less than, and utterly worthless in the world. I remember thinking that every other girl was prettier, and somehow better than me simply because she wasn’t me. I thank God that He didn’t leave me in the dark recesses of my thoughts to die lonely and afraid! He is truly my Father who loves me unconditionally!

    • Amen Natonya! I think there is such freedom and encouragement for other women when we are willing to share what we have overcome. Thank you for your courageous vulnerability in your comments. So glad you joined the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  8. Ouch. Still working through this late in my thirties. Abandoned by both parents, my now ex husband and my most recent four year relationship that just ended with zero explanation. I struggle with the idea that God wants me to be alone for all of my days in this life and that true joy will only occur in the next. Ongoing prayer battle for me. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from Holley Gerth link.

    • Wow Deanna that is a lot of heartache you’ve weathered. I’m sorry that you had to experience it. I can’t say that I believe God wants you to be alone for all of your days because He created us to be in community with one another. It may be that God wants you to get alone with Him in order to heal your broken places. I have seen Him do that in my life. Prayerfully as He does this it will impact the type of people that are attracted to your life. I have seen this in my life as well. Continue to pursue God and watch Him do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine. I’ll be praying for you Deanna and praying for Psalm 27: 10 -14 to be fully actualized in your life. Be blessed and than you for your courageous and vulnerable sharing. – Kia

  9. Powerful post!

    • Thanks Samantha for your encouragement and I’m glad you joined the conversation today! – Kia

  10. This is beautifully written and so needed!

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