Sharing what it feels like to be an only

by on April 8, 2011

in Emails

I suppose I was compelled to write to you simply because I have never encountered anyone who wanted to know, in some depth, what it felt like to be an only child. Although I have had some experience of personal therapy,  my experience of being an only child has come up in the context of other matters, not as a matter for examination itself. I suppose this is the nature of therapy, one deals with what arises in the time and space, and the fact of my ‘onliness’ has never been, of itself, a topic in the therapeutic space. I have no doubt, however, that having brought it to the fore, I will take it to my personal therapy.

My impulse to write to you signifies to me that this is something that needs to be used in my therapy, which begins next week.

Some of what I remember is my own experience as I remember it, some I have been told by other people.  I was separated from my parents at birth, and reared by my foster parents until I was about two or three years old. I believe my return to my natural parents was a traumatic one, although it was described to me by my mother in terms of her trauma rather than mine. I do remember however, that I suffered from night terrors and was ill more often than not, as I was growing up. My father I experienced as being both distant and tyrannical.

I  remember my life from the beginning of consciousness as a solitary one. I learned to be psychologically self reliant from an early age, I think. I don’t enjoy being in groups. I either feel isolated from the people in them, or I feel bored and suffocated by the group and long to isolate myself. I am able to form good relationships with people, but I have to have some time alone every day.

I sometimes feel, that through my being an only child for so long I have achieved great intellectual and psychological freedom, sometimes I feel that this cuts me off from some people. There may be a pattern here, I can feel it emerging as I write. I have a longing for solitude, and that longing brings along with it the awareness of the impossibilty of being completely solitary in one’s life.

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