A perspective from the 1960′s

by on July 16, 2013

in Guest Onlies

I hated being an only child and can remember asking every year if I could have a brother or sister for birthday or Christmas.  I was tired of always having all the latest games and toys but no-one to share them with, what is the point of having such wonderful things as they were perceived by other children if there was no-one to play them with?  I hated it I had a lonely and miserable experience as an only child.  Always over anxious to share or give my things away to others for to me they were but meaningless objects with no fun attached.

Even now that I am 43 I will give someone my last penny share anything and everything and let people have what they want for the joy of sharing it with others.  I never enjoy activities on my own because all I remember was as a child being forced to experience everything alone.  So to me cinema or any other activity outside the home should be social to be shared with and
enjoyed with others.  This left me for a long time with a terrible fear of being alone.  I was forced to confront this when my marriage broke up for a few years until we reconciled.  I did get used to being alone and sometimes enjoyed quiet times, but other things outside the home did not hold as much joy for me as they would if they had been shared.

I hate when people say I bet you were really spoilt, yes if having everything but not being able to make use of it is being spoilt then I suppose I was, but for me I feel it was more a case of my childhood was spoilt and the joy of one’s own company spoilt forever, for I shall never really blossom alone I spent too much time wishing for the company of others throughout my formative years.

I was greatly helped to understand myself and realise that I was not nuts some things were down to being an only child when I read The Only Child, How to Survive Being One- until that time I never realised there were others that felt like me.

Even now my friend, who has many siblings, mildly irritates me when she makes a phone call to one of her family when I am at her house, I can not help thinking can not she do that when I am gone? Because to me they are stealing my time, my time when I am sharing and not being alone, she does not understand this because she was used to always having to share others attentions and never getting much special one
to one time with someone else, never being the centre of attention or anyone’s focus. As only children we sometimes does not know how to cope with this.  I would never tell her, partly because she would not understand and partly because she would be mortified if she thought she was hurting me even if she could not understand why it upset me so.

I find it really hard when my husband does not  call his sister, I just keep thinking if I had a sister I’d want to call her all the time, but maybe I would not feel that way if  I’d had one because she would have always been there, but because she never was I longed for something I’d never had so it seems all the more precious to me.

I hated being the centre of attention, but got used to it, I hated always being with the grown up and everyone commenting on how grown up I was, I wanted to be silly and play but how could I? There was never anyone to play with.  Never anyone to talk over why your parents had reacted in a certain way, no-one to assure me it was not my fault.  That I just had to get one with things on my own and try and figure things out for myself.  Yes, this has benefitted me, I am resilient, good in a crisis I keep my head and work out practical solutions to get things sorted, but then again I am used to it, it was always me that had to resolve things for myself.  So my friends often tell me how strong I am, yes because I never had that sibling support and sometimes as a teenager it is us against them, the grown ups, the parents well for me it was them against me, just me and I had to stand up to it all alone.  I fight my own battles and stand up to all bullying and I believe this is because my sense of fairness was exaggerated by being an only child because there was never any notion of it not being fair and someone getting more than me because there was just me.

The strain of everything falling to me, I felt a failure not having any children because I had failed to produce the only chance of grand children and broken my parents hearts.  All the care for my parents falls to me, when I lost my mother then it was all for me to sort out dad being too old and confused to manage.  Now it is just me to worry about how dad will spend his last days, no-one to share this burden and guilty for feeling my father is a burden, he wouldn’t be if this could be shared.

I hate the way people think only children are selfish, yes I have met those that are, but I believe it makes one either extremely selfish and wanting their own way and liking their own company more than that of others or like me, because I was such a sad and lonely only child that it sends those like me the other way, I am very unselfish, often go with the flow and let others choose or do what others want just glad or the company and the chance to share, and I will share anything and everything with anyone.

Yes, I had some happy times as a child but most of what I remember is the crashing loneliness of being an only child this was felt keenly when my mother passed away, one less of us of our tiny family and when my dad goes there will be just me, alone again.  No one to always depend on that nothing can change, because if you have a sibling even if you do not get on, do not speak or see each other at least, in your heart, you always have them.  I get so cross with people who do not speak to siblings and say they could not care if they never saw them again or if they dropped dead tomorrow.  They take for granted something that to me would have been the greatest gift.  No one can change the fact you have someone always tied to you your sibling only children have no one after their parents go they are back to being alone with no real unbreakable bond with anyone.

So now here I am, childless, and never likely to have a child, my age making it unlikely to have one and even more unlikely to have two and I am not sure I could inflict what I endured on to someone else.  I realise not all only children feel this way and many loved and still love the fact that they are an only, all I can say is that for me it was almost like purgatory.  All the blame and all the guilt falls to the only child, I think people underestimate the effect being an only child can have at the time and years after.

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