Story #5: Kind Validation During Child Problems? Knocks Out Abandonment – Life’s Worse Fear

My Fortnite strategies were gradually shutting out my sophomore psych lecture. Then… “Jadin, what’s an example of emotional fear?”

I did a quick scan of the two-part earthquake drawing on the board, labelled, “Fear is like an earthquake, everything falling apart.” Underground everything was breaking; labelled “fear.” And above ground everything was shaking: labelled “everybody angry and in trouble.”

Thoughts raced—my parents’ constant anger with my missing homework, their disappointment in me getting C’s, fighting with my younger ADHD brother. I never hear anything good about me. Am I all bad? I never wanted to play football, but I didn’t want to disappoint my dad who played Division I football. And then…

“Jadin, do you have an answer?”

“Uh, I guess getting in trouble for my missing homework?” I answer.

My teacher points to the breaking up, underground earthquake drawing. “When the most important people in our lives get angry about our mistakes and failures, we get really scared. Becky, you told me a story yesterday that you agreed to discuss today. It’s about a new therapy, Love Infusing Fear – Therapy, LIFT. Can you share it?”

Becky says, “I used to be in trouble all the time until I went to counselling.” Snickers rippled through the classroom, met with the teacher’s glaring face. She straightened in her chair. “When I messed up, anger was all over the place from my parents and at myself. I learned that’s because everyone was scared. It’s natural, but it really hurt.”

“Thank you, Becky, for having the courage to tell us about this. Why did it hurt so much?” the teacher asked.

“I learned anger is the way the mind tries to get rid of what’s causing the fear. In my case, I couldn’t fix my D in chemistry. I felt completely alone—my therapist called it abandonment. He said it’s a basic fear hiding inside everyone and it pops out when people handle differences with anger. I felt nobody loved me, even though I know my parents did. The anger pushed it away,” Becky explained.

“So, tell us about the fix,” the teacher continued.

Becky pointed to the board. “Well, my parents were dealing with the surface—the D—and the therapist helped them go underground to the breaking point, where emotions are that caused the upset about my D.”

“What did they learn to do?”

“He told them to forget the D and validate the emotions. Kindness needed to replace anger. We needed kind togetherness, not angry separateness. They learned to say, ‘This is really hard for you.' "

We know you are really trying, Becky.’ ‘Tell us what’s hard.’ Stuff like that. And no more anger,” she said with a smile.

“It was the craziest thing—when I heard this stuff, almost right away it felt like I was OK instead of messed up. Then we found a way to really help. They hired a tutor for me and now I’m getting a C+,” Becky finished.

My mind was racing. I’m going to ask my parents if they could find a therapist for us. Now I know why I’m feeling so awful. I feel so alone and no good, even thought about ending it all. I’ve even thought about marijuana—it’s so easy to get. Emotions causing it all? Never thought about that. I can’t image my parents being kind about my problems, but when I think about it, sure would be awesome! Maybe that’s why I love Fortnite so much. I feel like I’m really good at it and it’s so much fun and nothing else is. But I’m scared to ask my parents. They might laugh. I think I’ll ask Becky how to talk to my parents. I wonder if we could be friends.

Infusing fear with love turns misery into hope. Consistent kind togetherness during differences reduces fear of abandonment to a whimper. Plus an unexpected bonus: Establishing the most important human belief—I’m lovable.