Abandoned

By:  Jane Samuel

I knew the minute my husband pulled out of the lot and darted across the street to drop me at the pharmacy that it was a bad idea. Our youngest had run back into the retirement home where my father lived to retrieve a forgotten item and my husband thought it would be quicker to pull across, drop me, and run back and get her while I shopped. Problem is he didn’t tell her. He just figured he could get back before she noticed. Wrong.

Worried Girl

It is simple things like this that don’t normally come up on a parent’s radar screen; that aren’t seen as game changers that we have to be on the lookout for. But in one scary moment as seen through the eyes of a child like our daughter they are.

It doesn’t matter that this month eleven years have elapsed since the night or day, dawn or dusk that she was abandoned by her birth family. It doesn’t matter that ten years of love and lessons in trust have been poured into her mind and heart – some of them even finally sticking. It doesn’t matter that she knows the staff at the retirement home where we left her. It doesn’t matter that she has seen us return – from short and long trips, work, meetings and hospital stays – and knows that we don’t ever leave our children.  It doesn’t matter that it is broad daylight and she can go right upstairs to her grandfather. It doesn’t matter that she is eleven now, and has the problem-solving capabilities to figure out what to do if indeed she was left behind for some odd, bizarre reason.

All that matters is that she was left behind a long time ago at least once, perhaps more. And her body remembers that leaving. And then her brain – despite all reassurance and rationalizations – goes off into the zone of fear, and what ifs, and oh no.

Yes, that is still really all that matters. I hope someday it doesn’t matter anymore. But until then, it does.

Touching Trauma at Its Heart is a blog written by Attachment & Trauma Network’s voices: a collection of parents, professionals and volunteers who represent a variety of perspectives and experiences related to attachment issues and the effect of trauma on children and on families.

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