When Someone We Love Leaves, It Can Trigger Rage!
Unpacking the Emotional Turmoil of Attachment and Fear of Abandonment
Losing someone we love can be one of the most difficult experiences we face in life. Whether it's a breakup, a loss of a friend, or the end of a family relationship, it can trigger intense emotions, including anger. But why does the thought of someone we love leaving us often result in rage? The answer lies in our attachment style and the fear of abandonment.
Attachment Style and Fear of Abandonment
Our attachment style, which is formed in childhood through our relationships with our primary caregivers, influences how we form and maintain relationships as adults. According to Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, authors of "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love," there are three main attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Those with a secure attachment style feel confident in their relationships and are comfortable with intimacy. People with an anxious attachment style crave intimacy and fear abandonment, while those with an avoidant attachment style distance themselves from others to avoid vulnerability and emotional dependence.
The fear of abandonment is often rooted in experiences of neglect, inconsistency, or abandonment during childhood, leading to feelings of insecurity and fear in adulthood (according to Dr. Nina W. Brown, author of "Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents"). When a loved one tries to leave or distance themselves, it can trigger this fear, leading to feelings of anger and rage.
Why Anger is Triggered
When someone we love leaves or tries to distance themselves, it can be perceived as a threat to the relationship. The fear of abandonment can activate our defense mechanisms, leading to feelings of anger. This anger can be a way to protect ourselves from the perceived threat of abandonment and rejection. Additionally, feelings of sadness, disappointment, or frustration may also contribute to the anger.
However, this anger can sometimes push the person away, making the situation worse and perpetuating a cycle of attachment, fear of abandonment, and anger.
Breaking the Cycle
The good news is that this cycle can be broken. By recognizing our attachment style and the fear of abandonment, we can start to understand and manage our emotions in a healthier way. Therapy, self-reflection, and working through our past experiences can help us develop a more secure attachment style and reduce the fear of abandonment. By facing our fears and vulnerabilities, we can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships with the people we love.
When someone we love leaves, it can trigger feelings of anger and rage. But this reaction can be understood through the lens of attachment style and the fear of abandonment. By recognizing and addressing these underlying patterns, we can improve our relationships and find greater fulfillment in life. So if you're struggling with the loss of a loved one or feelings of anger, remember that help is available and a better future is possible.
Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love. Penguin.
Brown, N. W. (2015). Children of the self-absorbed: A grown-up's guide to getting over narcissistic parents. New Harbinger Publications.