1. We are old souls.
We entered childhood with an adult mindset. We always talked about deeper issues that were far ahead of our time, and had more intense feelings than regular children our age. We felt more like strangers than playground kids. We knew early on that we didn’t have the luxury of the careless or happy-go-lucky spirit that our age entitled us to have.
2. We are creative.
We were creative in finding ways to rekindle our parents’ love, in hopes that they would get back together or realize how badly they needed each other. Faking a cold, throwing tantrums, causing problems at school were just tactics to get both parents involved. This creativity didn’t stop there, but continued to be a fundamental drive in our system. We are now more creative because we had to fabricate scenario after scenario to get our parents in one room. Or we came up with perfect excuses to answer the dreary questions about why our parents are no longer together, how that affects us, or if we think they will ever get married again.
3. We are not afraid to speak up.
We were forced to speak up whether we wanted to or not. Whether it was our parents getting us involved in their dilemmas, or asking us to pick a side, or even just us getting sick and tired of playing dumb if one of them was “secretly” dating someone new, or throwing not so subtle jabs at one another. We had to speak up and we had to do it honestly and clearly. We had to find our voice and use it.
4. We always want to fix what’s broken.
It comes naturally to us. We can’t leave things until we try to fix them. We are always the peacemakers between friends, the therapists to our coworkers, and the genies to our partners. We don’t like seeing people sad or lonely. We overextend ourselves to please others. We know what it’s like to be neglected. We know what it’s like to be half-loved and we want to make sure no one else feels this way.
5. We may sabotage our relationships.
The truth is, we really don’t know how a good relationship functions. We are just trying to avoid a bad example, but we don’t know how to follow a good one. We expect more from our partner. We even ask for it. We test them more than we should. We always have that fear that they will just leave, so we push them over the edge to see if they will stick around.
6.We are melancholic.
The melancholy feelings never really goes away from the moment you learn that your parents will no longer be together. You just learn how to take it in stride, suppress it, hide it, counteract it, temporarily forget it, but it never really goes away. It randomly creeps up on you, and people will catch you off guard and ask you “where did you go?” or “what are you thinking of?” and we really don’t know what hurts more, the question or the answer.
7. We don’t like to share our pain.
Our pain is congenital. We don’t understand people who can share their pain so openly with others. We envy them sometimes–it must feel good to be able to take some of the heaviness off their chests, but we just want to share happiness. We want to be happy; we want to see people happy. Our pain is meant to be shared only with our closest friends, our therapists, or our journals. But we don’t know how to talk about it, and we don’t want to talk about it. We want you to understand our pain without really having to probe its crux.
8. We are tough.
We have learned early on to roll with the punches. We are used to awkward and uncomfortable situations or uneasy questions and pity looks. We have thick skin and we are rarely affected by what others say or think; we may even be immune to disappointments. We know that feeling all too well. We face our problems head on, and we know how to function under messy conditions—in fact—we are superb at it. More often than not, we stand up for ourselves and for others too.
9.We’re afraid of having kids.
We want to have kids, we love kids, but we are terrified we might have to put them through what we’ve been through. We don’t want history to repeat itself. We want to provide them with the home we never had, and the family trips we never took. We want to make sure they don’t have to be sad or miss a parent or split their free time. We never want them to have to explain to other people why their parents are not together anymore. The pressure of these thoughts, the fear of these feelings, make us think a hundred times before bringing a kid into this world.
10. We never stop hoping for a miracle.
No matter how many years have passed by, we still hope for that day, the day when we will wake up and find that our parents have reconciled, that their love never really went away. We still hope for that day, even if we know that it will never happen. For some reason, we still wait for the curtain call, for the long-awaited family dinner, for the family trip we always dreamed about, for the family portrait we always wanted to hang up, for the day where we can finally fix what has been broken.