I was a middle child sandwiched in between a warrior-princess, mega-independent, born-leader older sister and an attention-getting, rule-changing, volatile-tempered younger brother.
There I was, just hanging out in the middle all alone, hoping to be noticed for my wild creativity, intense empathy, strong compassion, and various random talents. "Notice me! Let me be the center of attention just once!"
Don't get me wrong, I knew my parents loved me and stuff. But, your shiny edges just don't shine as brightly when you have a sibling on each side dulling that glow. For Kim and Kevin, each with a side free to blow in the breeze and shine in the sun, it was easy having a "place" in the world--at least from my comparative perspective.
My childhood years that I spent trying to find my place and figure out who I was as a sandwich filling (hah!) shaped me into an extreme introvert. I was always looking inward to find my footing. Birth order definitely affected me, and middle child syndrome is oh-so real--I even wrote a pretty compelling term paper on it once for a developmental psych class.
Then when Kim died, I had no place in the order. I was suddenly in the forefront, but I didn't want any of that attention. Like, at all. I'm still that way. "Don't notice me. Let me not be the center of attention--I don't like it. Let me hang back and people-watch and offer my input when the time is right for me."
It's weird, and I'm still adjusting. I also occasionally encounter that feeling of being misunderstood, and it unsettles me. It's a super "off" feeling. But, I guess it's not very realistic to expect to be understood all the time.
Anyway, getting to the point, I have one particular friend who sees me. Like, really sees me. We only met last month, so every time I rediscover that I'm totally understood and safe, I re-live the "wow" of that feeling. It's pretty amazing. There are only a handful of friends in the entirety of my life with whom I've fallen into such tight lockstep like this. I'm enjoying it. It's nice making new friends, and it's even nicer feeling like there's not a thing about me I have to censor or put in a huge amount of effort to explain.
La vie est très bonne.