Birth Order, Or How Adler Screwed Me Up for Life

“If you are afraid, and fear you gonna change some, all you gotta do is just remember where you came from.” – Lupe Fiasco

Day 4 in Beattie’s “The Language of Letting Go” deals with family issues. Everyone has them. They’re inescapable, necessary evils of life.

Upon reading this part, I began to think about my solitary year in graduate school. I was halfway to a Masters in Counseling, one I never ended up completing (though I enjoyed it, I decided it wasn’t for me).

One of the classes I took, a theories course, had a chapter about Alfred Adler. He was a psychiatrist who theorized that the order in which you were born affected your personality. Firstborns, for example, tended to be a bit neurotic, because they had so many pressures placed on them. The youngest, then, were perhaps a bit spoiled and might even be self-absorbed. And the middle – well, they were either ignored or made themselves the peacemakers in the family.

I remember telling my professor that I didn’t know where I fit, and when asked why, I explained that I was the baby of my biological mom and dad’s, the middle child of my stepmom and dad’s, and sometimes even played the role of the oldest in the second family as well.

He said what I already suspected: “Huh. Well. Yeah. According to Adler, you’re fucked.”

So I’m slightly neurotic, often ignored but a peacemaker, and, at times, an attention whore. Got it.

I don’t think I’d change my position, anyway. It’s been an interesting ride, and I don’t even think of each “family” as separate. I have two moms (four if you count my older sisters :) ), my dad, and six siblings. I’ll admit it gets a little hard NOT to get caught up in things, especially with the younger ones (who are now in their twenties and teens!)  – but it’s only because I really want them to grow up to be well-rounded, happy individuals. In that respect, I suppose I’m like Jesus. I suffer so they don’t have to.

Nevertheless, every once in a while, I remember that there are choices they make without me; I can’t protect everyone from everything and vice versa. With more time, maybe I can get more comfortable with that. Until then, thanks Adler. I really (don’t) appreciate it.

50 Responses to “Birth Order, Or How Adler Screwed Me Up for Life”

  1. kathryn

    “Martyr for my love for you”
    (jack white wanted me to let you know he can relate)

  2. amanda

    will you ask him: what’s the hardest button to button?

    AND “where do babies come from?”

  3. Bethany

    Since you’ve been a Middle and a Youngest, you’re probably also the best at being the Oldest. Kinda cool, no? At least that’s SOMETHING for all this fuckedupedness :)

  4. Ken

    I read somewhere that the firstborn tend to be awesome, smart, and handsome.

  5. brittany

    i think ken doesn’t count because he was a firstborn boy in a house of girls for so long. but amanda, you’ll always be the baby to me. now go clean your room! (sorry)

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