I was five years old when I was left alone in a supermarket.

I turned around. Dad and my brother were gone. Alone in one of the cereal aisles, I looked for them. Panic. I started walking faster, looking aisle after aisle for them. I headed towards the cashiers, where a large black lady was at the till. “Have you seen my father?” I asked with a quiver. I felt the tears gathering at the bottom of my eyelids. “No honey, sorry.”

I walked faster, half running now. Left, right, back – no sign of dad and bro. I was completely alone. Past the storybook and magazines. Past the candy aisles and the bread section. Would I know my way back home? It’s not that far. I can probably walk it. But they have been teaching us at school about those scary strangers that try to lure you away with turtles, or liquorice. Will I be kidnapped?

When I walked past the entrance’s sliding doors and stood outside, I saw them. Dad and brother were crouching low behind a green bush held by a square concrete pot. The parking lot was behind them. I saw their movement, I recognized Dad’s hair. Dad realised I had discovered them. I walked towards them both, not understanding the practical joke.

“See if that teaches you a lesson!” dad said.

Lesson? The lesson was, I shouldn’t have browsed the aisles alone; I shouldn’t have wandered too far off when Dad told me to stick close to the group. He must have told me not once, but a few times to stay together. But I’ve always had a wandering mind. I get caught up looking at a new cookie design. I get mesmerised by the colourful candy rows. I stay too long reading a story book or the cover of those shiny magazines. And before I know it, I’m all alone.

So to teach me never to wander off again, he takes my brother and fake abandons me. It was only a couple minutes. 10 minutes at most probably. But I utterly, wholly felt alone and abandoned those few moments Dad and Bro were gone. I felt betrayed too.

There was a deep sense of shame and embarassment after I found them. Dad yelled at me for a short while. Bro was silent. I remember thinking whether he found it funny, me getting yelled at. There was sibling love but also a bit of rivalry for affection at that age. I remember crying all the way home.

To this day I remember it all. It may have shaped my fear of abandonment in relationships in general.  I still hold that it was unjust to have left me there, for such a minor error. I still believe that that particular incident was crap parenting.

I guess we all have scars from growing up.

What traumatizing childhood experiences do you remember? How did it change the way you live today?


14 thoughts on “Abandoned

    • Very true. I guess we all live with some fears that were ‘learned’ as a young child. The challenge is overcoming them. Makes me a bit scared to be a parent too – I’ll do my best and hopefully nothing scars too bad..

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh boy! This post sparked some memories. When I was way younger, my family was in some store and I got lost. I then saw that they were going up in an escalator. So I was going up and I didn’t know how to get on! It totally freaked me out! I finally somehow got up and it took me a long time to find them. From then on, I was scared of escalators. I chose to take the stairs for a long time. It was only a couple of years ago that I decided that escalators aren’t that bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m sorry for your terrible experience. I have so many memories of crap parenting that terrify me up to now and I know how hard it is. One time I remember particularly well, was when I was abandoned in a school classroom late in the evening. I don’t remember particular reason, but a lot of times I stayed late after school and was doing my homework there with the teacher and another student, who was our principal’s son. My Mom sometimes would sit there with us, but most of the time she would feed me because it was late and I would be hungry and then go to principal’s office which was downstairs and could easily forget there about time while talking to her until my Dad came to pick us up. One day it was so late in the evening that the teacher already left and it was just me and a principal’s son. We were tired of waiting, so he told me that he’s gonna go see where our mothers are and disappeared. I waited and waited and waited. Our classroom was in the farthest wing of the building, very cold, very dark and there was a hallway and 2 other classrooms. An hour or maybe more later I heard that the door to this wing is being closed. As I rushed to the hallway I found that the door was already closed by another teacher who left the building not even bothering to check if there’s anyone else inside. Now I wasn’t only abandoned, I was trapped inside and I couldn’t go and look for my mother or anyone else. And apparently there were no landline phones there and mobile phones did not exist at that time. I started beating the door and screaming for help, but no one heard me and no one came to my rescue. All drowning in tears and having a panic attack, I waited and waited and still no one came around. To worsen my fears, it was a windy day and the window in the bathroom was broken, so the door would slam every 2 seconds and sound of wind blowing through the window was scaring the hell out of me. Trapped inside the building with ghosts. I thought that I was going to die. Some time during this panic, I thought that there must be a spare key in one of the classrooms, so I rushed and turned every shelf upside down looking for a key. Even if there was a key I couldn’t find it because I was so scared and couldn’t see with tears clogging up my vision. When that plan didn’t work out, I lost hope and sobbing sat on the floor by the closed door. Finally sometime later, came… no not my mother, it was principal’s son. As he heard me crying and realized that I was closed, he ran to tell the parents and find the key. Finally, some time later I was rescued, but that feeling never escaped from my memory. Do you think my Mom apologized for abandoning me? No. She did hug me and wiped my tears and tried to comfort me, but no word apologizing for leaving me there all alone and not checking on her 6 year old daughter all this time. What was even more hurting and betraying was that when my father found out about this and wanted to come to school the next day and get the teacher, who closed the door and didn’t even care to check if there’s someone in the classroom, punished, my mother talked him out of it. It was too important for her to keep silent and not create a scandal or issue out of it than to get justice for her scared and broken-hearted child. I wanted my Dad to beat the hell out of that stupid teacher, but he did not. Everyone was acting the next day as nothing happened and I even got in trouble for making a mess in my teacher’s drawers, as she was not happy about it and she told me about that in a manner that wasn’t nice at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such a horrible experience! I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It seemed like your mom cared a lot about what other people thought? If that’s the case it’s hard – when parents put the feelings and opinions of third parties above their own children it’s almost always an unhealthy trait. By any means you were so young and shouldn’t have been left alone in a classroom, let alone be locked up. Although the teacher was pretty dumb to have locked the door without checking if there was anyone left behind, parents also have the utmost responsibility to pick up their children on time. So in my view…the ultimate responsibility was your mom/parents not having picked you up…
      It seemed like your dad wanted to speak out for you, so that’s at least comforting.
      On a more macro note, it helps to understand the background of how our parents grew up. Maybe your mom was brought up to be a people pleaser, which explains why she didn’t want to create trouble and wanted to keep peace, at the expense of you. It doesn’t make what she does right, but it might help understand the reason behind her choices.
      Hope you’ve since recovered from this childhood experience! Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind message. It’s difficult to forgive, but you’re right – when I try to understand why she did this, I can see how she was brought up, how difficult it must be to be raised without a father, in difficult conditions and I know she tried to do her best when nobody told her how to be a good mother. And some things might seem as a common sense to us, but were not known to her. Whatever our parents did was not because they intended to do harm or to hurt us. It was out of not knowing and not understanding the consequences of their actions. So, I actually already feel compassion for them and I do forgive them.

        Thanks again for your words, they were really comforting and I hope that we can see the silver lining even in these horrific experiences! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s great! You seem to have found peace over this matter now, and it’s wonderful you’ve forgiven them. I guess we all have a lesson to learn in forgiving and healing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Had a similar experience as a kid, really scary, I thought I was never going to find my family again and when I did I realized they hadn’t noticed I’d been missing and weren’t concerned in the least about my hyperventilate-y tears.

    Liked by 1 person

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