One of the first things we learn as a child is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In its simple fairness, the idea is easily grasped by children and only adults seem to have a hard time understanding the concept.
Unfortunately, for those who live by this rule, there is often no correlating benefit that automatically accrues. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and even worse, sometimes people whom you’ve treated well do not treat you the same. It is in the nature of good people to always be considerate of the feelings of others. It is their nature to be concerned about the impact of their actions and most importantly, to stand by the side of friends and family throughout their ordeals without a second thought because that is what they do.
Because the concept of abandonment is something they would almost never personally consider. When it happens to them it can be a devastating blow from which it can be very hard to recover. There is nothing in their experience which allows them to understand how someone could do to them that which they could never do to another. The selfish person can more or less move on, denying responsibility and utilize their arsenal of defense mechanisms to blame the abandoned and get on with their life. The selfless person has built up no such armory and their natural proclivities to offer comfort and understanding cannot easily be turned within.
When a good person is abandoned, whether by a spouse, child, friend or even parent. Their first instinct is to blame themselves. Because the thought process involved in abandonment is so foreign to them their first thought is to wonder what they did wrong. No doubt the abandoner uttered some justification or perhaps to be extra hurtful did not. The selfless one will take their criticism to heart whether it is deserved or not. While none of us are perfect, their faults were not likely the cause of the problem.
What the abandoned person desires most is a clear understanding of the situation and that may be the one thing they are forever denied. Their quest for understanding may diminish but will likely always exist to some degree until they are healed. Those who are unable to heal may never truly move on. They throw themselves into their work or their children or often go off into different directions seeking to dull their pain but end up only enhancing it.
There are two important steps involved in healing their soul:
- They should know that the blame is not theirs and the responsibility lies with the one who abandoned you. That person for reasons you may never understand has gone in another direction. The way that they left ultimately doesn’t matter. There is no good and honorable was to desert someone and no matter how they do it only ranges in degrees of cruelty. Most often they take the way out easiest for them which is to explain little and leave quickly. Their decision may not be logical and they may often later regret it having learned too late what they lost. It is alright for you to still wish them well and indeed still love them. Just recognize that the departure was their choice and beyond your control. Time to move on.
- The hardest thing to complete the healing is to replace them. The replacing might not be a literal thing like replacing a wife or husband or having another child. What needs to be filled is the space that you had given to another person that is now empty. For those of faith, take the time to be still and let the space fill slowly. Fill some of that space focusing on yourself, remembering the things you enjoy and spending time with those whose love is unconditional. When the time comes to let another actual person into the vacant space. Consult with God as you no doubt never stopped doing for approval of your choice. If the one replaced was a spouse. Make sure you’re equally yoked and that they offer you support much as you would be willing to support them. The tendency might be to hold back but I encourage you to work through that tendency and instead open up more, consulting God each step of the way.
Sometimes there are special circumstances which make your decisions that much harder. Suppose the one shutting you out is dying and you find yourself still responsible for their care. The little justification I can give them is that they may be overwhelmed by their own fear and in their own way they may be trying to make your final separation easier after they’re gone? Whether that’s true hardly matters if they are intent on going out in that manner. You must decide what you are able to give and do no more. This period is finite and it is likely you find yourself unable to leave even though the person has already metaphorically left you. Dream of your better future and protect yourself from current pain. God will indeed reward you for your selflessness although the world and man may not. Don’t neglect your own health and give yourself some of the time you’ve always dedicated to others. Because you have loved, know that you are loved also and take comfort in that. When you have needs don’t be afraid to reach out and share your pain with others as you have always helped others through their trials.
When your joy comes, it will be more than you imagined because God will recognize your service and sacrifice. Speak it into existence (or at least whisper for the time being). You’ll never be abandoned by God who can make up the slack for anyone else!