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Entries categorized "Listened to, Heard, and Understood "

Feeling Left Behind

By Elayne Savage, PhD



#179 noone_left_behind


Yesterday I heard Matt Zeller, a founder of No One Left Behind passionately speaking about the first planeload of 221 Afghan interpreters and their families arriving in Virginia –  the first wave of evacuees under the Special Immigrant Visa Program.


Zeller asks: “Do we have the courage and conviction to do what is necessary here?


We have to do it honorably.  We have the ability to save them – they don’t have the ability to save themselves. It is up to us.”


There have been some touching first person experiences about Afghan interpreters who have saved many lives and now their families lives are in danger from the Taliban.


No One Left Behind, cofounded by Afghanistan combat veteran Matt Zeller and interpreter Janis Shinwari, helps endangered interpreters and their families immigrate to the United States. Shinwari saved countless American lives, including Zeller’s in Afghanistan.


Eliot Ackerman, a former Marine and intelligence officer who served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan describes his re-connection with his Afghan interpreter, Ali.


And more interpreter evacuee information:


I have been aware for quite a while that the Taliban has threatened Afghan interpreters. Matt Zeller states “If you worked for the Americans for even a day — leads to a death sentence for you and your family by Taliban.”


Now, with the Taliban advancing into territories as the Americans withdraw, this fear becomes more real every day.


So I’ve been pretty distressed about the seemingly hopeless situation of the interpreters and their families who will be left behind. I kept thinking that my degree of distress seems more complex. What’s going on here?


Then I knew! I have a long-time relationship with a fear of being left behind.  I have heard scores of ‘left behind’ stories from therapy and workplace clients, workshop participants, colleagues and friends.


Some of My Feeling ‘Left Behind’ Experiences

Here we go:

In 2nd grade in DC they did away with mid-year so we were either placed forward a grade or back based on our birthdates. I was placed forward since I had just missed the deadline cutoff. The third grade class had already learned cursive and more challenging math and I felt really left behind in my abilities. I began to doubt myself. 


My good friend was placed back a grade and was so upset about it, feeling and “dumb” and very left behind.


I’ve heard many classroom moved forward and moved back stories over the years. Both situations can have such long-term effects on us.


As the daughter of a ‘stage mother’ I was always afraid I wouldn’t be chosen for a part in a play and that I would disappoint her.


I am clear now that I decided to go back to school for a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology because several of my coworkers were chosen to attend an in-house graduate program. My feeling left behind spurred me on to attend a private Psychology graduate school! 


I can see how these ‘left behind’ experiences are very connected to my rejection issues of feeling ‘left out’ which have plagued me into my adult years.


Other Voices


A woman I know grew up in a family where she was told college was “not for her” because of her learning disability.  One day her mom and sister said to her—‘it is time to accept your life is over and to find a husband in the town and settle and have kids.”  She clearly did not feel heard or acknowledged by her family.


After many years of feeling left behind by her peers who had already graduated college or graduate school, she decided as an adult to start community college and transfer to the University. She is determined to graduate. Her resiliency is amazing. Through self advocacy she tirelessly pursued effective communication accommodations that include Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) captioning and transcription services.


“When I decided to begin college with the help of the new Americans with Disabilities Act technology law  to get CART Captioning and  transcription services, I found my accommodation needs were not being heard and recognized and acknowledged by the school and the department that was supposed to provide these to me. So almost daily I was left behind the class because I was unable to complete my reading and assignments.


The dread of being left behind is constantly recreated by the University’s inability to provide adequate accommodations for me and I am regularly not feeling heard or acknowledged — just as it was in my family!


Again I watched everyone pass me up and graduate and move on with their lives.


“This is deeply sad and painful to face the reality that not only did I try to go to college once and twice and people are passing me by and graduating that are younger than me. My completion of classes and graduation keeps getting postponed because of the University’s inability to provide acceptable and timely transcription services and CART captioning to me."


I’ve heard many stories about clients not feeling they can start college or specialized training because they believe or had been told by family or high school teachers they lack the skills. 


One student summed it up pretty well: “Being left behind is like the ultimate rejection. Being left behind means feeling despair because of missing emotional support and perhaps financial support from your family.”


Another student describes:

Lack of family support feels like rejection and makes you question yourself. It's unfortunate but this kind of stuff can really make you dwell and take you down the road of depression. It's a Dark Road. 


Several students painfully remember how they were told they lack the skills and abilities. They were also told "That's a pipe dream - Be realistic."


When Separations Can Feel Like Being Left Behind

. . . and Abandonment


Lots of stories too about when families are no longer intact and the separation arrangements might lead to children feeling ‘left behind.’ 


Or feeling ‘left behind’ when a good friend moves across town or across the country. Especially if you did not receive much of a warning. This sort of thing happens all too often.


It does seem like abandonment fears may sometimes arise from certain ‘left behind’ experiences.


So many types of ‘left behind’ experiences.

Do you have one to tell as well? Would really love to hear your stories.

Until next month,

Elayne Savage is the author of ground-breaking relationship books published in 9 languages.

Both books are now available on Kindle!




You can use the articles in 'Tips from The Queen of Rejection'® as long as you include an attribution and, whenever possible, a live link to my website. I'd appreciate if you'd notify me where and when the material will appear.

The attribution should include this information: Elayne Savage, PhD is a communication coach, keynote speaker, and trainer, practicing psychotherapist and author of Don't Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection and Breathing Room - Creating Space to Be a Couple.

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