If you’re an only child, you may have had a relationship or two in your life where you felt a little more like a chameleon and a little less like yourself. Don’t get me wrong, this can happen whether you’re an only or not, I’m sure. But I think it may just be commonplace amongst singletons. There’s a reason for this….
There is endless chatter, rumors, and misconceptions that an only child is self-absorbed, narcissistic, even bossy. I’ve spent a great deal of my life practicing the opposite approach, maybe even in an effort to deflect such evil stereotypes. I’ve been expending so much energy into that other direction in fact, that some of my biggest flaws include (but are in no way limited to) being under-assertive, passive, and self-sacrificial.
Having been married and divorced twice and also having just ended a difficult relationship has shown me – finally – the err of my ways. I recently told a close friend that I felt like some kind of a universal soul mate because guys tend to see me as the ‘marrying type’, and believe that I must be their magical one. I don’t say this out of vanity, rather I say it out of sheer embarrassment. See, I think that different people bring out different sides of me…to a fault.
While we all feel comforted by relating to one another, I find that everything about me shifts in the direction of ‘him’. So much so that I end up feeling like an over-worked piece of play dough, that after so long of being molded, played with & left out in the cold, finally dries out and breaks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with compromise in a relationship. Just as there is nothing wrong with some sacrificing. But there is a fine line between sacrificing some of one’s self and sacrificing all in an attempt to ‘be loved’ or ‘be accepted’, or even ‘be adored’.
I fully believe that two souls can be inexplicably drawn toward one another, even when there’s very little compatibility, and that those two people can still have a loving relationship as long as one of them caves in. Ultimately, though, that’s not going to work. The caver feels trapped in an image that she herself created, and the powerful leader in the relationship is left feeling confused because he was leading the dance the whole time and she never stepped on his toes. Not once. Everything was perfectly synced! What changed?
What changed is that this ‘strong-willed’ only child became not only a follower, but a martyr as well. What good is an only if they become a nobody because they’re only self is acting like somebody else?
So my own challenge for this time of solo-spiritual-growth is to become strong enough to let my self-awareness shine; to speak up for what I want; to have a voice in what I do; and to be a full-out ‘only’ – not the vicious meany that everyone expects from a singleton – but a watered down version that also derives happiness from giving to others from a place of strength…. not desperation.