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Childhood Trauma - Neglect

We often view trauma as something that happened to us, but it can also be surrounding what didn’t happen. Trauma is based on either abuse or neglect. The latter can make it difficult to identify because in some instances it happens unintentionally. To give you a little insight into my story, I was an extremely independent child, and also a first-generation American. My parents came to the US chasing the American dream coming from Bolivia and when they were climbing a ladder that steep, there wasn’t a lot of time allotted to us kids. We were at times latchkey kids but before that we had people who would watch over us while our parents were at work. I remember spending a lot of time by myself and I also remember being celebrated for my creativity as I had imagined not one but two imaginary friends. That eliminated the need for my parents to set up playdates, although as an adult, I understand that imaginary friends are a coping mechanism for feeling lonely. On top of that, I was a massive daydreamer, and when we would go out in public, my family would often lose me as they moved in unison and I rarely realized they had even walked off. This happened so often that we had a system in place. I just had to make my way to customer service when I would hear my name blaring over the P.A. system. “Would Vanessa Bedoya please come to customer service? Your parents are looking for you” is forever burned into my memory bank. 

When I think back on those scenarios, I realize how easy it is for our behaviors to shape how people treat us. You see, I would manage to stay calm during emergency situations and that reinforced my parents’ belief that I didn’t require as much attention, I guess?

I really don’t know but I’ve heard this one story so many times that it’s my only conclusion. When I was a little over one year old my family went to a u-pick farm and you guessed it, they lost me, albeit for about an hour. I can’t even imagine what was going through their heads while trying to find a baby in a massive u-pick farm in TX. What I do know is that when they found me I was sitting in a shady spot enjoying a freshly picked tomato. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t even looking for anyone, I was enjoying my time alone and voila! That’s how my parents knew that Vanessa will always be ok. Truth be told, I was always ok. I was resourceful, independent, and fearless. 

However, should we allow or enforce the behavior of a child that is premature for their age? What does it do to their mental psyche? For me, I never learned to ask for help but even worse accept it. 

Getting diagnosed with MS at 21 felt like the universe beating me into submission in regards to asking for and accepting help. I fought it for years but now as a disabled, single mom, entrepreneur, board member to multiple boards, etc. – I can only do what I do because of my tribe.

No one should walk through life alone and children shouldn’t be left to feel like they have to.

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