Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I suffer from OCS. I don't know if it is in the diagnostics of psychologists, but it should be.

Our friend, John Anderson came to dinner tonight and before we ate John and Bern were talking about all the rules they lived under as children when in someone else's house. There were all sorts of restrictions about 'not opening anyone's refrigerator without permission' and 'never entering a bedroom in someone's house'--stuff that sounded like Sanskrit to me because I suffer from OCS,

Both Bern and John have siblings (Bern is the youngest of 3, John the oldest of 4) so life showed up for them a lot differently than it did for me.

People with OCS will not only open strangers' refrigerators, they will open their medicine cabinets and their closets. Sufferers of OCS have no boundaries. Our mantra is "What Mine is Mine and What's Yours is Mine."

Only Child Syndrome is a remarkable affliction. Only Children are all like every other 'only child' but they have little to nothing in common with people who have brothers and sisters. We are not like You, just believe it.

Imagine, unless you are an Only Child, what life would have been like if you never had to fight anyone over a toy or share a room or wear hand-me-downs or see some younger brother wearing your old clothes or never had to scream "leave me alone!" to a sibling or had to fight about where to sit to watch TV or ride in the car or never had an older sibling pinch you or a younger sibling turn you in for pinching and never, ever, not once, had to share things.

Well, I know you can't imagine all that any more than I can imagine pecking orders or 'sharing' or having someone else taking up your space and hogging stuff.

I often, often have to hear people discuss their siblings. Rarely am I jealous or envious. Mostly, I'm just confused. I have always romanticized about having brothers and sisters...until I hear a normal kid, with brothers or sisters or both, talk about what it was like.

The most common question I get from people with siblings is this: "weren't you 'lonely'?"

Here's the thing, if you've never had other siblings that you might from time to time be separated from, "loneliness" has no meaning whatsoever. I truly have no connection with either 'loneliness' or 'boredom'. I know people get what they called 'bored', but I have no intellectual or emotional category equivalent to 'boredom'. For me, it simply doesn't exist. I am perfectly happy to entertain myself because I've always had to and don't know what the option would look like.

As I told you earlier: Only Children Are Not Like You.

Lots of it, realistically--this OCS stuff, is not good. I had to bury my parents alone. No one is there to tell me if my memories of childhood are accurate or wildly mistaken. I'm nobody's Uncle--and I would be a great Uncle, I believe. I have no nieces or nephews to be the crazy Uncle Jim for.

My mother had 4 siblings who lived and 2 who died in childhood. (Ernest and Leon, the two that died, were part of my childhood as well as the uncle and aunts who I grew up with.) My father had 3 brothers and a sister. So I had aunts and uncles aplenty and first cousins forever.

But I never had a brother or a sister. I simply am not equipped to know what that would be like, not in a million years.

We have two children and I never figured out the whole sibling thing. Not for a moment.

OCS has some wondrous ramifications. And some noxious side-effects.

It is what it is.

But Only Children (unless you're one) are Not like you....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.