Recognizing behavior that stemmed from your loss
In our first edition of our topic on abandonment (Motherless daughters and the struggle with abandonment), we went over the fact that when a daughter loses her mother, deep feelings of abandonment may in fact replace her mother’s presence. We also pointed out that a daughter will take these feelings of abandonment with her throughout her life and whenever she experiences any type of loss in the future, that it will in fact trigger her feelings of abandonment all over again.
If you recognize that this has happened to you, and you feel abandoned from time to time when losses occur, then you have already taken a step in the right direction by merely acknowledging this. Now, the next step is to acknowledge other behaviors that may have stemmed from your initial feelings of abandonment.
Start by asking your self these questions…Has anyone ever told you that you are clingy or needy? Have you ever accidentally or intentionally pushed those closest to you away? Have you ever wondered why you behaved this way?
Well often times motherless daughters who struggle with abandonment go either one of two or even both ways--one way, is that we can either end up getting way too clingy or needy of those around us simply because we are afraid of losing them. So what do we do instead? Most people spend a regular amount of quality time with their loved ones, but us? No way! We try to spend every single second with our loved ones and can even get deeply hurt if we are not able to, or if the other person doesn’t want to or even asks us for some space. We are so afraid of losing them that we develop a clinginess/neediness to have to be around them all the time—an attachment if you will, just like our attachment with our mothers.
The other way it can go, is the complete opposite of clinginess. If we find ourselves starting to really care and to really want to get close to another person, to save ourselves from having to deal with another painful loss later, we intentionally or perhaps accidentally push that person away simply because we are trying to protect ourselves from having to deal with any sort of pain that even remotely comes close to what we went through when we lost our mothers.
Throughout my life, I have gone through both of these extremes. There was a period in my life where I just pushed everyone away who was trying to get close. And then there was another time period where I became clingy towards others because I was afraid of losing them. Altogether, it has taken me 20 years to figure this out, and I am hoping with the following tips it will take you less than that to figure yours out.
To reduce clinginess/neediness behaviors is something that is going to take some time to achieve, and although you may never be able to 100% break this habit/behavior completely, there are ways to tame it and keep the behavior at bay so it is not so intense for others around you. It’s going to also take a lot of practice so please be patient with yourself. Know and accept that your behavior is not going to just drastically change overnight and with a lot of practice and dedication on your part, you can eventually achieve the results you are seeking.
So now that you have probably pinpointed which one describes you the best, here are a few tips on how to work on at least controlling your clinginess/pushing people away behavioral habits:
Get more involved
If you have a lot of time to think about the other person then that is a red flag that you have way too much time on your hands. Start getting more involved in your community, join a Church group, get another part time job...a positive distraction if you will (see my article on positive distractions for the parentless). By distracting yourself with other responsibilities, you will spend less time being/acting clingy/needy towards that particular person. Always remember that you must have your own personal life first, before you can truly establish a life with another.
Automatically give that person some space whether asked of you or not
Let that person come to you. Let him/her be the one that calls you and sets up get-togethers. It’s okay for you to call or set things up too but have a rule for yourself that for every one time you initiate some form of contact, don’t proceed anymore until that person makes contact three or four times to you. This way you are giving this person plenty of space while at the same time, when they do contact you, they are doing it because they truly want to (otherwise they would not call or invite you at all). Also by giving the other person plenty of space, you’re showing them that you are not clingy or needy. By keeping so busy in your own personal life, you won’t have time to be clingy anyways even if you wanted to.
Accept one hard fact
Face your fear. Every single person in our life is going to pass away someday. We may or may not be around to experience it because we ourselves are going to also pass away one day. It is surely not a fact that anyone likes to think about, especially motherless daughters, but it’s truthfully, factually, biologically, spiritually inevitable. But, instead of us dwelling on this fact each and every day for the rest of our lives, start now to look at it differently. Starting right this second, go out and make new friends, travel the world, take a class you’ve always wanted to take, date, get married to your true love, create new life, go after the career that makes your heart smile, take chances, go skydiving, tell every single person in your life as often as you can how much you love and care for them. Accept this one hard fact of life that is inevitable for each and every one of us-whether you are the high school prom queen, the jock, the nerd, the unemployed single mother, the rich executive business consultant…we are all going to pass away some day. Accept this and you will feel a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders because you won’t be afraid anymore. Instead of being afraid to live your life, now you are going to not want to waste another moment or second on living it to the absolute fullest. Instead of fearing that you are going to lose your loved ones, you should be spending every possible second with them (in a non clingy way of course). And always remember that even though we all are going to pass away some day, it is not goodbye forever…we will see our loved ones again someday.
If you are the other type of person that pushes people away that you fear you are getting too close to, these tips also pertain to you as well. Life is too short and precious to not experience close relationships with others so welcome people into your life with an open heart and an open mind.
Don’t let you fears about what happened to you in your past rob you from what you could be wonderfully experiencing in your present or even future no matter which person in this scenario you represent. You know for a fact that your mother would want you to be happy and to live your life to the fullest.
So now it’s up to you to start doing exactly that…
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