The Mighty Logo

A Letter to the Parent Who Abandoned Me as a Child

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I know there are hundreds of reasons why people leave every day and maybe some of them are justified. But as anyone who has ever been left by a parent can tell you, it will never make sense to a child.

No child will understand why mommy or daddy didn’t love them enough to stay. I should know, I am that child.

I am a child of abandonment. It has been hardwired into who I am since I was 12 years old — since the moment I watched my mom walk out the door for the last time.

I never got to say what I wanted to and I suspect I’m not alone in that. So if you are like me, let it out. Here it is.

Mom, you left me on October 4th, 2015. I was sitting on the couch in sweatpants with my hair in a braid. My eyes were red and puffy from crying — my dog was sitting on my lap. Do you know why I remember every detail of that day?

Because years later, I don’t understand it. I don’t know where I went wrong. I’ve been haunted for years.

And to make it worse, you never had to see the ruins.

You didn’t have to see me on the floor sobbing while I begged for you to come back. Watching what you did would bring some humanity to my pain, but you wanted to leave me with nothing. Mission accomplished.

If you have never been left by a parent you won’t understand.

It rips you up inside. You spend years wondering what you could have done differently to make your parent stay. The world becomes a scary and unforgiving place.

Which makes sense — your parents are supposed to protect you, not destroy you.

When you get left by a parent, you see their face everywhere. Strangers on the street begin to look like them. You spend your whole life trying to replace what you lost. Making sure it doesn’t happen again becomes your sole purpose because the idea of living through that type of pain again is too much to bear.

Losing you was the hardest thing I never chose to do.

I couldn’t spend the rest of my life without saying that. You should know that I lived. Your attempt to break me failed. You cracked me, yes. But I have learned to be stronger than I ever thought I could.

I know there are others like me. People who spend long nights looking up at the ceiling, reliving the moment their world crumbled around them. To those people I would say: You are stronger than you could ever know. This is just the beginning for you. You, like me, can rise again.

Getty Images: dragana991

Originally published: November 27, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home