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My Childhood Trauma of Abandonment and How That Fear Controlled My Life

For basically my whole life since I can remember, I have had immense fear of people leaving me. When I was 3, my parents left me with my grandparents in Korea (I was born in Korea and came to the U.S. when I was 5) to go on a trip to the U.S. I remember my mom first telling me about it, and everyday for the weeks leading up to that trip, I had begged my parents to take me with them. I was terrified because something inside of me felt that my parents were discarding me and were going to the U.S. by themselves because they didn’t want me anymore. I thought they were never coming back and that this was all a great scheme to throw me away for good because I was unwanted.

I remember vividly the day my parents dropped me off at my grandparents’. I remember that house, my parents’ faces and what they were wearing, but most importantly, what that front door looked like as it closed behind them. I remember screaming and crying in sheer terror that I had failed to convince my parents to keep me and take me with them and that they were finally leaving me and never coming back. When the front door shut and I saw the backs of my parents go out… I was so sure I was abandoned forever. I remember crying and crying for hours no matter how hard anyone tried to console me. At that young age of 3, I didn’t know how to put into words the utter trauma and terror I was feeling. That memory has stayed with me my whole life.

It’s a memory that left a mark in my brain. It is the 1st vivid memory I can remember as a child, and ever since then, I’ve had immense fear of anyone I care about in my life leaving me in any manner. It took me 23 years since then to realize how hard that event affected me, but I realized this year that this traumatic experience had become a life-controlling drama that dictated my actions and how I interacted with people from then on.

I was so afraid of people leaving me that I never spoke what was truly on my mind and how I felt. I thought for sure I would be abandoned by anyone and everyone (friends, family, lovers, teachers, etc.) if I told them an ounce of whatever I was truly  feeling inside. So, I learned to say the “right” things that were “socially appropriate” or things I thought others would want to hear. I would never dare tell anyone how much their actions or words hurt me inside or how much I didn’t like what that they were doing to me. My mind believed so strongly that if I told them how much they were hurting me then they would leave me for sure, because who likes hearing that someone has a problem with you? Even though someone who is hurting me leaving my life would’ve probably been a good thing, my fear of abandonment was so great that I would rather hurt inside over and over again than have someone leave me.

However, this year around April I awakened through deep meditation that this fear has gripped my entire being my whole life. The awakening hit me like a brick wall and brought me SO much tears and feelings of repentance. I connected with a deep part of me from the pit of my soul through meditation, and I suddenly felt a tsunami wave of abandonment emotions come up from my chest, through my throat, and out of my mouth. I found myself screaming “DON’T LEAVE ME! DON’T LEAVE ME! I SAID DON’T LEEEAAVEEEE MEEEEE!!!” uncontrollably, while crying out SO much pain that had accumulated since that day when I was 3.

I realized through this awakening that I have been denying myself since then the right to express my truth with everyone I cared about, and I won’t do that anymore to myself or to the ones I love most. My spiritual journey inside has brought me inner strength and grace to do what used to be unimaginable for me– to expose my most fragile and vulnerable side of my heart without fear of being judged. If there’s one thing I learned in life it is that those who are meant to stay by your side will stay no matter what you say, and those who aren’t will leave no matter how beautiful your words and memories. I think we deny ourselves a lot of what we want most. It’s time to be free.

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3 Comments

  • Reply David Hahn August 3, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Great post. I have similar feelings of abandonment and this really allowed me to understand it isn’t just myself who’s going through this issue. Many people have fears but worst of all some people will always be unaware.

    • Reply areavanta August 4, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, David. I agree– so many of us suffer from similar issues of abandonment and people leaving us when we don’t want them to. I’m so happy to hear that this post has helped you in its own way. You are not alone!

  • Reply Janaye July 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Enlightening the world, one helpful article at a time.

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