When I was younger, I frequently yelled at my parents for not giving me a brother or sister. Yes, that’s correct. GIVING ME. Like as in a gift. Like, “why the hell do all of my friends have one but I don’t?” This was really the beginning and end of my rotten, semi-spoiled attitude that only children stereotypically have. My parents are Eastern European; they wouldn’t have allowed that crap.
I never really thought of myself as lonely as I was growing up, that’s just the way things were. If my mom or dad didn’t want to play a board game with me, I would just talk in a different voice when it wasn’t “my” turn and pretend there was someone there. When I developed elaborate back stories for my Barbies or Beanie Babies, I had nobody else to bounce ideas off of. I pretended all by myself.
Pretend. That was a common thing for me growing up. It’s how I kept myself entertained. I didn’t have a childhood pet and it wasn’t always easy for me to make friends. I found comfort and excitement in the pretend worlds and situations I created for myself and my toys. I learned from an early age that I didn’t need anyone else. I had myself, my parents and my imagination. God damn if I wasn’t on top of the world!
The problem came later, when my solidarity meant pushing people away; meant unintentionally ruining relationships because I didn’t want to share. I never had to when it was just me.
Not being in charge of the other person meant letting go, meant being vulnerable. I didn’t know what this meant. I didn’t know how to keep a secret because I spent my childhood talking to myself.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It just slipped out. Please don’t be mad at me.”
From a heart of good intention came delusion; not knowing how words affected another person. My parents taught me to be respectable and kind and I practiced my lines in the mirror but I’m sorry, sometimes I forget my lines. Sometimes I don’t see the lines. Sometimes I cross the lines but I’m trying, God, I’m trying.
And God. Whoever you are. I started talking to God but I didn’t know what to say. Why am I here alone? I know my parents love me but is there anyone else? Why does Claire have a bruise on her knee from her brother accidentally tripping her, but my knees are always covered and scar-free? Why can’t I be an older sister and protect someone?
Please God, I just want to protect someone.
My Barbies seemed fine. My Beanie Babies were okay on their own. My parents don’t need protecting because they are invincible. The only person left is myself. But I don’t know how to protect myself. I want to be loved but I don’t know what that means. I know it’s what my parents are in, though, so it must be good.
I want to be special. I want to do good. I want to be good. I want to be the best. I want to follow all the rules. I want to make my mom happy. I want my dad to cheer for me. I want to remember how to speak Romanian in case I see my grandparents again. I want a hug but I don’t want to ask for one. I want to run away. I want to never grow up.
I want so much I begin to wonder if maybe I am a little rotten and semi-spoiled after all.