A perspective from the 1980′s

by on July 4, 2013

in Guest Onlies

I am an only child, now 22 year old adult. I hated being an only child and I struggled a lot with loneliness and grief. What extenuated the loneliness I felt was my dysfunctional family.

Early Life: My mom more or less destroyed every shred of a relationship with her siblings, so I didn’t even have the ability to connect well with my extended family. I always longed for a sibling but because of my mother’s mental health issues, I wasn’t even allowed to own a pet, which broke my heart. I am a very social person by nature and the pain and isolation caused by my upbringing still haunts me to this day. I remember daydreaming and creating my own “dream family” complete with all kinds of siblings and pets. It was my way of trying to survive.

To this day, I feel as though I have a difficult time relating to small children because I did not have any siblings growing up. I got along well with other children my age and had many friends, but I never really took care of anyone younger than me. I actually was so jealous of friends with siblings, especially babies (who I secretly adored), that I didn’t want anything to do with babysitting or such things. I avoided spending time with small children because it made me very sad inside. I still grieve that I never had the experience of caring for siblings, or even experiencing a pregnancy. I feel like I missed out a great deal on things that would have helped me be a better parent and even help me better understand my own sexuality in a healthy, natural way.

Present Hopes: I have hopes of being a mother, but I confess that sometimes I am afraid that I will be less prepared than my peers because of my upbringing. I hope this is not so. Still, it bothers me. One thing I know is that I will have more than one child! I would never put my children through the loneliness and confusion I experienced. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes my mother made in raising me.

I am blessed to be married to a wonderful, caring man. The truth is, that without him, I would be more or less alone. My grandmothers (who I was very close to growing up) are very old (late 80′s and 90′s) now
and my parents are in their 50′s. My relationship with my family is better, but I still have to keep a healthy distance for my sanity. It’s difficult to realize that a day will come when I will be “it”: the last surviving member of my “family.” It is uncomfortable.

Hates: I hated being judged for being an “only one.” Not so much by my peers, who really seemed to care less about my only child status, but by adults who assumed I was “spoiled” or “lonely” or “miserable.” Those
stereotypes that were cast upon me were unfair. I was not especially spoiled because my parents weren’t the wealthiest people on earth. I was materially comfortable, but I really don’t think I had more than my peers with siblings. Because of my parents’ emotional distance, I definitely wasn’t treated like “a princess.”

Struggles: Long story short, I still struggle with jealousy when it comes to my friends with large, happy families (both immediate and extended). I long to be an aunt– or watch with pride as a sibling reaches another milestone in their lives like a wedding or graduation. It is difficult now that many friends have nieces and nephews to love and spoil. I will never have that opportunity unless my only sister in law (younger) has children someday. I want to have siblings to share the burdens of caring for mom, dad, and the grandmas as they grow older… and sometimes I just want to know that somebody is “there” for me… somebody that has deeper love and loyalty than a mere friend. Holidays definitely bring out the loneliness for me.

Positive aspects: I guess I can say that the positive aspects of being an only child were being able to confidently communicate with adults at a young age, learning to handle being alone and creating my own fun (which helps because my husband is actually away a lot), and certainly appreciating my friends a lot more.

Present day drama: The “plot” of my story  thickened in the last week. My mentally-ill mother and I had a fight… And spoke about things that were really bothering me… Even from my recent past. We hadn’t spoke in a week when my father, who did not witness our conflict and heard only my mothers side, sent me an accusatory and inflammatory email informing me that they want no contact with me or my husband in any form for an indefinite time and have withdrawn all support for me. (There were a few things they were helping with since I am young student and a “gift” of car repairs they promised me for my wedding last year that they had yet to fulfill. These have been completely revoked).

Anyways, I am hurt and saddened, but yet I feel free to be myself for the first time in years. My husband and I always felt like there were two other people in our marriage and now we are actually able to be a couple without worrying about how my parents will react to our every decision.  I wish it didn’t happen this way, but I do believe it will work out for the best.

Thanks for creating this great website!

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