This is an article in a series that can be found here
Fear of Abandonment
The second fundamental fear is the Fear of Abandonment. This drives your need to belong, to be recognized, and acknowledged. The fear of loss, especially the loss of love of your partner, is the quintessential poet’s lament. There have been countless country songs written about loss and abandonment, almost every modern rom-com has some form of loss or abandonment in the storyline, as well as most of the classic myths and fairy tales.
What was the curse of Snow White? She was abandoned in the woods.
How about the story of the jilted Miss Havisham from the classic novel Great Expectations? She was abandoned at the altar.
Remember what happened in the movie The First Wives Club? The first wives exacted their revenge after they were abandoned for newer versions.
The theme of abandonment is deeply embedded in the subconscious of women. In fact, an ancient Greek parable may hold part of the answer as to why the fear of abandonment is so ingrained in us.
The myth of Ariadne and Theseus is a love story gone sour. Ariadne, a Cretan goddess, falls in love with a hero named Theseus. He sails from Athens to Crete and accepts the quest to slay the Minotaur at the center of the infamous labyrinth where every three years a group of maidens, children, and youth are sacrificed to this half-human, half-bull creature as a way of appeasing the gods. To complete his quest, Ariadne gives Theseus a magical thread to guide him through the labyrinth. With it, he succeeds in slaying the beast and returns to Ariadne victorious. They marry and set sail together back from Knossos to Athens. On the way, they stop on the island of Naxos for a little honeymoon. But, the honeymoon is over when Ariadne awakens from a nap on the beach, and Theseus is nowhere to be found. He had set sail without her, deserting her on the island where she is left to lament.
Theseus obviously had second thoughts. As the woman left behind, Ariadne signifies feminine wisdom holding out her heart-strings to guide her masculine counterpart to slay the darker parts of his personality, and who is left disappointed when he leaves her. For women, this archetypal theme runs deep in our subconscious, fuelling feelings of worthlessness. Like other archetypal themes that are a part of the human condition, its pull is difficult to escape. No matter how much she gives, how many threads of wisdom she offers as insights into her man’s psychology, how much she proves her worth to her man day-after-day, she believes he will never see her true value. She feels this way because for centuries, a woman’s value has been diminished, and the imprint of the degradation on her soul is a scar that just won’t heal. Her mother felt this way, as did her grandmother and great grandmother. It is a legacy from which there seems no escape.
From the vantage point of this collective wound, a woman is always on guard, wondering what her man was up to when he comes home late, doesn’t answer a text for over an hour, or shows up with little to say to her. She perceives his emotional distancing as a sign he’s making plans to move on and no amount of convincing will make her feel secure. Her insecurities defeat her. Rather than living the most fulfilling life she can, one with experiences that validate her worth, she clings to her man, expecting him to be her all.
Next time you have a girl’s-night-in watching your favourite chick-flicks, notice how much the fear of abandonment comes up in the story.
It is the most deeply imbedded fear in the subconscious minds of women. The feeling that drives this fear is betrayal, but the mourning, guilt, and regret associated with it are primal drives of the human existence. No fear is ingrained into our collective psyche as much as abandonment and loss.