“See that man walking beside? He’s going to kidnap you because he
sees you don’t have a mommy,” my mother hissed to me in
Vietnamese as we walked down the streets of Chinatown. I
looked up at the man walking beside me, long shaggy hair, long shaggy
beard, scruffy clothes and ice blue eyes. I quickly decided he was
definitely not someone I’d like to be kidnapped by. So I grabbed my
mother’s hand and held on tight.
Ever since as long as I could remember, my mother’s instilled in me
this fear of being kidnapped. Adbuctors were lurking in every corner,
strangers ready to relieve my mother the trouble of me if I didn’t
behave by holding her hand in the market or by staying by her side in
big crowds of people. She’d even warn me about strange scary men who
would break into our house to kidnap me if I didn’t make my bed.
“They’ll think a boy lives here and will want him to work for them,”
she’d tell me.
I know she told me all those things to make sure I was safe and to
keep me obedient out of fear. While her tricks worked, it also had side
effects I’m not completely sure she intended for.
Whenever she’d leave me and my brother alone in the house to go work
at the farm, I’d have these morbid thoughts of strangers bursting in to
take me away. I’d develop these elaborate plans of where to hide and
how to escape being kidnapped. I’d live in fear of being alone, so I’d
follow my big brother around constantly, making sure he’d always
know where I was. And if he wasn’t willing to protect me, then maybe,
at least, the kidnappers would take him and leave me alone.
Obviously now I don’t have that fear anymore of abduction attempts
at every nook and cranny. But I can still see the lingering
effects it’s had on my thinking. Everywhere I look, I see the potential
for danger. When I drive around in my car, I always seem to briefly
play a “worst case scenario” in my head. For instance, a car cuts in
front of me and immediately I imagine it hitting me and our vehicles
are smashed. When I walk around ever, I imagine myself running into
benches, poles, etc etc. It’s not just physical danger either. Whenever
there’s a boy I’m interested in, I always imagine our worst case
scenario. Either him annoying the heck out of me or me clinging on to
him like an insecure little girl. Whenever I meet new people, I always
imagine them disliking me, finding me loud and obnoxious. Perhaps
that’s why I usually like take a backseat and observe everyone
first before I can get comfortable and open up.
I also think that’s the why I have this pessimistic attitude about
life. I’m always constantly picturing the worst that could happen. And
it’s hard to imagine a brighter outcome because the darker outcome’s
always to obvious that it’s staring me in the face.