Only-child Aloneness

by on October 2, 2015

in Bernice responds

There are many ways and times we as only-child adults can feel alone. In childhood it is often the lack of a sibling that brings about feelings of aloneness. ‘Tina’ writes how this gap can be filled by only-child friends or cousins which, as a result, can feel particularly important to us. However what happens if you find this close only-child now finds that they have a sibling they did not know about? How would it affect you? Or your other close relationships?

I know from my research, that when one only child married to another, suddenly found that her husband had three siblings, she felt extremely rejected. He was over the moon but even years later she finds it difficult to accept this completely new position both she and he has – especially as she has always wanted siblings herself.

Of course often the greatest feeling of aloneness is when parents die and we are orphans, even though we are ‘adult’ orphans. Most people find it traumatic losing parents but it is felt even more keenly by those of us who have no siblings and no one to share our past history with. Here is Tina’s experience:

What prompted me to find this site tonight is another blow to my already fragile emotions. My one cousin whom I have loved my life as “my sister,” who did not have siblings and has always been an “aunt” to my children as I to hers, has just informed me that she has discovered she has a sister one year younger than she. I cannot count the times I have dreamed of somehow finding out I had a long-lost sibling out there–and now, the one person I thought would always need me as much as I needed her, has a sister that she will probably meet soon.

I am happy for her; why do I feel so sad for myself? Will she forget me now? I feel jealousy. Jealousy that someone else will get to call her “sister” and she really will be her “sister,” even if just half. For, you see, I fear inside. I have imagined that late in life, if we were both alone, we would take care of each other. Now, I don’t know. I am scared. My dad is gone, my mom is old, and now the one person whom I thought needed me as much as I her, may no longer.

 So, even though I have seen the turmoil that having siblings can have (primarily through my parents), and I have seen how some siblings are not close (even hostile), I wish I had been given that opportunity.

I’m thankful for my many cousins that know me from my childhood and love me, but I wish I had someone to share my pain when my mother passes away. When my father died, I realized how very alone I am. NO ONE could feel my pain; not my kids, my mother, my cousins, NO ONE. And, that is a frightful thing to experience. Tina

Has this happened to you? Why not share your story? Bernice

  • JTMorgan

    As a 28yr old only child myself, loneliness has always been my biggest fear. I don’t really have any family apart from my parents, and once they are gone I will have no one. I don’t know what I’ll do, ill probably have a breakdown.

    Being an ‘only’ has significantly damaged me growing up- people say that onlies are more independent but in my case this just isn’t true. I’m 28, a manager of a large team in a good job and I still feel like a lonely little boy. Constant self doubt, a lack of confidence and difficulty forming or maintaining relationships are struggles I face everyday. People with big families, nieces and nephews- these people are truely blessed.

    In my opinion there is no swings and roundabouts- having brothers and sisters is infinitely better.

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