We can, and should probably, start with the obvious. I’m an only child. “Ohhhhhhhhh,” you said. “Well that explains everything,” you said. I mean, we only children, man we have some bad raps. For what it’s worth, there are plenty of fully functioning, empathetic, selfless only children out there who are beyond tired of having people give them pity eyes when they confess to the horror of a siblingless life. Not ALL of us have been in therapy for years. I mean, I HAVE. But not all of us. But yes, that’s where this starts. The old formative years. The old “Freud would have a field day with me” years. The old, “hey, I had no siblings and my parents never paid attention to any one or thing but me so why would I grow up to assume that would ever start happening” years.
Imagine me. (Did anyone else say that in Sophia’s voice? Picture it. Sicily….) I’m born on Easter, the first girl after 4 boy grandchildren. My very arrival was revered! Celebrated! I was rejoiced…and it only got worse from there. Everyone loved me. In my memories, I think of my aunts and uncles and imagine them paying more attention to me than their own kids. That didn’t really happen. It just never occurred to me at the time that they, or anyone, loved anyone but me. I grew up living all over the place (more on that when we get to the art of moving around all the time) so when we traveled home, seeing us, seeing ME, was really something special. I’m the OG Millennial, y’all. My sense of entitlement as it comes to love and praise is top notch.
Ok, so let’s think about how this manifests as an adult. For 18 years, everyone around me, without saying so, but concretely, resolutely, put me on some kind of attention pedestal. Never did a need go unmet. Never did something important to me have to take a place on the back burner. Never did I have to compromise on what I wanted to do, eat, wear, be. All of my ME was left unchecked. And it grew and it grew (now I want to tell a rhyming story where we make my ego a Dr. Seuss character) until it was too big for any room, then suddenly, and in a flash not dissimilar to Harry Potter and his floo powder, I was flung into adult life. It would probably have been a good time to tackle the onset of these issues, but I just drank and did a lot of other ridiculous things instead.
I have never shared a thing in my life. Really, try to eat something off my plate and see what happens to you. I was confused when other kids touched my stuff and pretty much never wanted it again if it lost the special gift of only being mine. (This applies to my adult life in the form of ex-girlfriends.) The funny (horribly inconvenient for other people) part is, I never went through a “mine” phase because MY WHOLE LIFE WAS ONE. What is this yours you speak of?
I feel deeply and thoroughly hurt when people don’t see things my way. I can REALLY TRULY SEE how that would come across. Controlling. Insane. Mostly like weak sauce who gets upset at the slightest sign of “he’s just not that into your idea.” Well let me tell you guys. When the whole world for your whole life tells you the sun rises and sets around you, Galileo be damned and what not. I know only how to be the center of the universe or not at all. Again, you can see how this might not really work for everyone else. Like most other things associated with being impossible, I don’t care.
I don’t understand compromise. I really don’t. What you’re telling me is that I have one life to live and I should spend even one second of it doing what someone else wants? THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE. Oh, you just shuddered and called me selfish and appalling, didn’t you? I promise I will say so many more terrible things over the course of this journey together. You should go ahead and pull up your big girl panties, grab a latte (soy, if you’re me) and settle in to this long story.
I will offend you because I’ve come to the conclusion that I think differently than almost 58% of the people on this planet. Probably more. In fact, I know more, because it’s almost 100% of women. Women want children. An entire act focused around giving one’s entire self and purpose to another person. I MIGHT get up early to take you to the airport if you’ve been my friend for long enough.
I could go on about this forever, but the real point is that when nature and nurture combined in my universe, I got fucked, I never stood a chance of being “normal” so the incessant forgiveness of my “shortcomings” is pretty much required. All signs pointed to me being just how I am. A crazy narcissist who loves all things best when they are new. And mine.