I believed that unless I had an open-door policy, eventually no one would come knocking and I would be rendered lonely and isolated. I can laugh at that now, but back then, my “savior behavior” that had me believing that I needed to be spontaneously available to provide whatever was asked of me, as an insurance policy against abandonment. No longer selling my soul for lave made all the difference.
I was born into a family in which love, nurturing, and support were in large supply and shared in abundance. No addictions, abuse, or fractured marriage. My parents adored each other and my younger sister and me, plying us with messages that we could do or be whatever we chose professionally as long as we could support ourselves and it made us happy. We were given ample opportunity for learning and trips to the library were frequent. Lots of hobbies and activities, living in the then-suburban paradise of Willingboro, New Jersey: Girl Scouts, swim team, Hebrew school, playing with friends. There were family trips “down the shore,” to Canada a few times, to a ranch, to Chicago and Lake George. The only major loss I experience was the death my beloved grandmother, who passed right after my fourth birthday. Although I couldn’t verbalize it at the time, it felt like losing a third parent.
I felt loved by my immediate and extended family. The aforementioned grandmother was one of 13 children, so there were lots of aunts, uncles and cousins around to shower us with attention. On my father’s side, I had a smaller group of equally adoring relatives. As confidently as I presented on the outside, there was this undercurrent of insecurity. I was considered a wunderkind by some folks in my life — a little adult who could hold her own in conversations with the grownups. “Precocious” was a word used to describe me at times. I did my best not to let it “go to my head,” and noticed that sometimes as a result, I kept my head down so as not to outshine or overshadow anyone, even as I craved the spotlight. I felt that I couldn’t express self doubt, so I finessed my way through much of the time.