My name is Becky. I’m 33 years old. I still sleep with a security blanket. Got a problem with that? Well, fuck you. I could care less what you think.
My blankie and I have been together for all 33 years of my existence. It was originally made by my aunt as a receiving blanket—a soft, mostly polyester waffle knit meant to go in my crib. Originally it was off-white and there were Disney characters stitched on it, although they had pretty much worn off by elementary school. It’s now faded to a dirty grayish-cream and the ribbon that binds the edges has been replaced many times. Given its age and the fact that I’ve slept with it my whole life, it’s in remarkably good shape.
On my living room wall is a photo of me and Blankie with Ann and Amy, two of my best friends from grad school. We are about 24 years old, and all three of us are all holding our security blankets to our cheeks. The picture was snapped when we were at a beach house together, taking a break from our lives as overworked, underpaid drudges for Big Media in Manhattan. As we unpacked our things at the beach house that night, one of us—I forget who—said “Uh…so there’s something I have to tell you girls. I brought my security blanket.” There was a collective sigh of relief followed by much laughter as we each pulled our blankies out of our overnight bags. Ann’s was not much bigger than a dinner napkin—apparently her mom, in an attempt to wean her away from it, had cut it progressively smaller until Ann’s violent protests managed to save what was left. Amy’s, like mine, was a crib-sized blanket, worn out from years of love. We have all framed the photo to memorialize our pleasure at discovering our shared secret.
None of us could quite remember how we’d started sleeping with our blankies. We had always had them. They were comforting. They were a link to our childhoods. We weren’t obsessed, but we were definitely sentimental about them, and preferred to keep them around, usually in bed with us. Ann and Amy’s parents had both tried to wrest their blankies away as they got older. My mom, on the other hand, was totally indulgent about Blankie, and even encouraged my attachment. I was an unusually mature kid—serious, bookish, always preferring adult company to that of my peers—and maybe Mom liked that I had at least one childish attachment left. Plus, as an educator and expert in childhood development, I think she saw it clearly for what it was—a harmless source of comfort for a precocious kid who was often stressed out (my parents divorced when I was five and my childhood was one big whirlwind of step-sibling and half-sibling family-blending).
Oddly enough, one of my brothers—he’s 15 years younger than me—also developed a passion for his blankie that lasted at least until middle school. A rough and tumble kid on the playground, at home he was the baby of our family, and took a lot of grief from his two older brothers over that blanket. My stepmom confided to me that he locked it in his closet every morning out of fear that his brothers would steal it or use it to mock him (an entirely justified fear, we agreed). At one family gathering, the blanket came up in conversation and my (often mean-spirited) grandma said “I think any child who has a security blanket at that age is going to have real emotional problems as an adult.” My poor brother looked stricken. I immediately snapped, “Well, I still have mine, Grandma, and I’m 27. So drop it.” To my surprise, she did, but I was still livid; Grandma was a violent drunk for many years and her four children have four divorces and two serious substance abuse problems between them. But clearly it’s the security blankets that cause emotional problems in the Sharper family! Puh-lease. For the record, my blankie-loving brother is now a brilliant and handsome varsity athlete who was just accepted early decision to Duke University. I think he still has the blanket somewhere in his room. It seems to have done him good.
My blanket never travels with me these days; I’m terrified of losing it and don’t want it exposed to any more wear and tear. During serious romantic relationships, my boyfriends always knew about the Blankie. None of them seemed to care much one way or the other, and it was usually tucked under my pillow, out of sight. I was way more interested in the warm body next to me, but still, I felt better knowing Blankie was there too. When I sleep alone, I pull it out and rest it against my cheek, or ball it up and tuck it against my chest. I sleep better that way. In a world where too many people seek comfort in drugs, alcohol, compulsive behavior, or dysfunctional relationships, I think I’m doing okay if I can get some serenity from a rumpled, ancient 3 x 4 square of cloth.
Got a blankie (or doll or stuffed animal) of your own? Please share in comments. We most definitely will not judge.