“Everyone will experience abandonment repeatedly because it offers vital life lesson!”
– King Ayles, author
“…were evidence of his determination to beat his family’s odds.”
Zayden was upset…in fact,very upset. Zayden was a short, quick moving, fit guy with one of those new hair styles where half of the head was shaved close and the other covered in long hair which made you wonder how they combed it in the morning.
Zayden was a thirty year old, Red Seal Certified electrician with an excellent work history. He had just been suddenly fired from a job he had held successfully for three years.
He and his latest significant other, Zena, were stock car devotees. They raced old cars on the local stock-car circuit. Zena’s regular job was as a truck driver recruiter for a local company experiencing severe shortages.
When I asked him why he had been fired, Zayden told me a long protracted story of his medical history. His family, on his mother’s side, has a genetic variant that left its members with a fragile cardio-vascular system. He had already lost a few members of his family while they were in their early twenties and thirties.
As a result, Zayden had always been very health conscious. The exercise ritual and strict nutritional regime he described were evidence of his determination to beat his family’s odds.
“…you perceive you have been discriminated against because of your medical history.”
Zayden said last Monday he was sharing the results of his most recent medical check up with a friend, Zuberi, during their coffee break at work. His boss, Zemel, overheard the conversation and started asking him detailed, pointed questions about his condition.
Two days later, Zemel, called him into his office and told him he would have to let him go because there was not enough work to keep him. Zayden was shocked because of all the overtime Zamel had been giving him over the last few months due to all the work they had.
Zayden challenge Zamel. But, he was adamant and would not reconsider. Zayden was now in the process of finding new work but was still so upset by Zamel’s actions that he called my office.
I said to Zayden,
“It sounds like you perceive you have been discriminated against because of your medical history. Is that true?”
“Yes, definitely! And, so does Zena and my friend, Zuberi, who still works for Zamel.”
“And, before that…anyone else?”
“Zayden, have you had a similar experience before this one where someone fired you, rejected you or abandoned you in some significant way?”
Zayden paused momentarily before responding,
“It has never happened at work before. But, I had a girlfriend, two years ago, who dumped me because she wanted kids and said I wouldn’t live long enough to be their father.”
I continued, looking for a pattern,
“And, before that…anyone else?”
“That would be my mother, who left me and my father when she realized I had inherited her family’s disease. I was about twelve years old. My Dad always said she couldn’t stand the pain of watching me grow up only to lose me at any time. I was to be her only child and she died herself with it when she was in her late thirties.”
“… learning independence requires us to practice it repeatedly…”
“So, Zayden, you have a history of perceived abandonment and the pain connected to it…from an early age. Is that what sticks out for you as you look over your life so far?”
“I never really put it together like that before, but it looks like a pattern to my life as I look back. I guess that’s unusual, eh?”
“Not really, Zayden! Everyone has a history of feeling abandoned throughout their life. It is normal and natural…believe it or not!”
“ I find that hard to believe, Ken. Explain that to me…please!”
“Zayden, humans are one of the most vulnerable mammals in nature and dependent for one of the longest time periods…research suggests at least three or more years.”
“And, how is that connected?”
“This dependency, while long, is also temporary because survival requires us to learn to be independent, and, as soon as possible. And, learning independence requires us to practice it repeatedly in different ways, throughout our life.” I said.
“…when my mother left Dad and I.”
“Do you mean everyone gets abandoned repeatedly throughout our life so they can learn to survive?” he asked, disbelief scripted all over his face.
“You got it! Dealing with being abandonment is an important skill for independence. Let’s find out how it has served you in your life Zayden, shall we?”
“I don’t see it, but let’s look, Ken.”
“OK! Let’s go to the moment in your life when you experienced the most abandonment…when was that?”
“That would have to be when my mother left Dad and I. I was in grade six and she moved back out west to her hometown. I will never forget asking her why she had to leave and her telling me it was “for the best” and I would be fine with Dad.”
“…a painful second like that always have a counterbalance.”
“Zayden, a painful second like that always have a counterbalance. It is a principle of nature. I want you to get in that second again, be there! Now, tell me where you are! Who is also present? And, what is the specific context? Be very detailed!”
Zayden sat back in my office chair and closed his eyes. I could see his eyes, rolling back and forth under his eyelids, seeking out that second in time. Then, he started talking.
“We were at the airport, my mother, Dad and me, waiting for her flight. I got the same answer from her as I had the last time I had asked. Dad was standing beside while I sat with Mom. Dad’s hand on my right shoulder and he looked as confused as I felt.”
“As you hear your mother say this again, what are you saying to yourself about yourself, at that very second, of having that perception?”
I paused and then I added,
“Zayden, your survived that second…you empowered yourself at that second, which is why you are still alive today…smarter and stronger because of that second. But, how specifically? Uncover that right now!”
“…find your balance on just one foot.”
With his eyes still closed, he said,
“There were several things going through my head. I noticed my father’s hand on my shoulder and realized I was lucky to have him. I realized how hard it was for my mother to leave me. I realized I would have to take care of myself more. And, I was scared and half crying as well.”
“So, there was a lot going through your mind. Now open your eyes and stand up for a minute. Balance yourself comfortably on your feet and put your arms straight out to your sides. When you feel perfectly balanced in that position, let me know.”
Zayden followed by instructions and positioned himself standing straight with his arms pointing out from his sides and said,
“Now I want you to keep your arms where they are and find your balance on just one foot.”
Zayden shifted and adjusted himself and very quickly was balanced on one foot, his arms still outstretched.
“…there is much more going on that most does see…yet it is happening!”
“OK! Now notice how quickly your body adjusted to the demands of moving to two feet to just one foot. What your body did so quickly and easily, and does constantly as your move through your world, walking, running and jumping…you mind does the exact same thing. Now, have a seat.”
“You’re telling me my thinking at the moment of my mother leaving me went to the opposite…to something positive…something pleasurable in the same second? …Really?”
“And, you have already given me some hints as to what they were Zayden. Let’s look again carefully.”
“All I remember is the pain, Ken.”
“Yes, that’s very common and because that is what you have learned so far to notice. But, there is much more going on that most does see…yet it is happening! You mentioned already that you noticed, and appreciated, that you had your father there at that very second. Was that a source of comfort, even pleasure?”
“…I became more free and independent at that second…”
“Yes it was, Ken! But, I never called it pleasurable…but I guess it was… wasn’t it? And, as I think about it, we are still very close, even today. And, I continue to get a lot of pleasure from my connection to my father.” he added, with a warm smile.
“Zayden, you said earlier, ‘I realized I would have to take care of myself more.’ Was that also a source of some form of pleasure for you at that second?” I asked.
“Actually, it was Ken! My mother had always been very protective of me, almost smothering at times, which I continually resisted. So, looking back, I think I became more free and independent at that second, which are things I still value, even today!”
“So, you got closer to your father and became more free and independent. What else were the benefits that came to you at that second?”
“Could a child at that age have that kind of awareness?”
“Ken, I think I became more motivated to take care of myself, more determined and even more self confident I would be OK… somehow.”
“You also said, ‘I realized how hard it was for my mother to leave me.’ How did that serve you at that second?” I asked him next.
“Believe it or not, looking back now, a part of me knew my mother loved me but I would be better off with my father…that her emotional stability was too fragile for her to manage…does that make sense? Could a child at that age have that kind of awareness?”
“Zayden, it makes perfect sense and I have witnessed such insights in young children in the past!” I replied.
“…he had not felt appreciated and other times when even felt used.”
So began Zayden’s focused learning journey into his experiences of abandonment. He had about five or six we needed to analyze and uncover their two sides…their truth!
As we did this work, it soon became apparent he really didn’t like working for his former boss. There were several occasions when he had not felt appreciated and other times when even felt used.
As he evolved he voiced another recurring thought. He had harboured a long standing interest another kind of work which he decided to explore. Zayden has a long standing interest in the outdoors and the environment.
Eventually, Zayden returned to the local community college and took training as a conservation officer.
I appreciate your thoughts and comments.
“Without abandonment there can be no unique identity!” – King Ayles, author