(I know that it has been forever since I started this meme, but I’m going to try to finish it up.)
Day 8 is devoted to:
Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
You might think I would choose my (emotionally abusive) grandfather or the eighth grade history teacher that picked the girls in her classes. No, this will be devoted to a couple of people who are all from the same group of people. Who might they be? My cousin’s wife (not the funny one) and my maternal aunt.
The wife of the cousin shall go first.
It should come as no surprise to anyone, especially her, that she and I are never going to be buddy-buddy. Ever since shortly after she married my cousin in 1999, she and I have pretty much been at odds. I’m not sure if the first time that she really started acting like I was some kind of miscreant was when I accidentally (and yes, it was an accident) stepped on her wedding gown or when I made a small joke (at the beginning of her pregnancy) that it would be cool if their son was born on April 1. (His due date was already supposed to be in April, around 2 weeks after the start of the month, so in terms of development, it wouldn’t have been a big bad thing.) She acted like I was hoping for the death of her child. He ended up being born February 18, the day after my 16th birthday. He had some pretty hefty birth defects and I got why everyone was so concerned about him and was so careful with him. The birth defects were treated with various surgeries and with stays in the hospital. By the time he was a toddler, he was relatively healthy.
In 2002, I wrote a blog entry about her. I was pissed off at her because she didn’t seem to care about discipline and because she wasn’t acting like she was concerned that (at 2) her son was not even attempting to talk. Honestly, I was a bit concerned that he might have some form of developmental disorder, but if I had asked her, she would have shut me down. (Anytime I’ve tried to ask what’s going on with him, she has shut me down or acted like I couldn’t possibly have a clue what was going on.) At the same time, she was apparently telling my mom that she thought that there was nothing wrong with my mother.
The blog entry practically got me excommunicated from my own family and I was told to never talk about that part of our family on the blog again. (I have, but no trouble occurred until earlier this year.) I let my internal issues fester for years, knowing that I felt like a stranger in my own family and that this one person was basically keeping me from having the loving family that I once had. I almost got used to having my family turn their backs (literally) toward me at family events. I didn’t get used to seeing the eye rolls, having anything I did for the family (i.e. the Christmas where I cooked pretty much everything) treated like it was suspect, listening to the concern that maybe my grandmother was a drug addict (because she’s taken medicine for Degenerative Disc Disease), hearing that my education was worthless because it was at A&M, or having long-time family events called off (or rescheduled) for no reason.
The last thing I mentioned really bugged me because we have had a dinner on Decoration Sunday the same weekend in May every year. Soon after the marriage, the dinners became harder and harder to get anyone from that side of the family to attend. What made this even more annoying was that this was also the weekend of the family reunion for my mom’s father’s side of the family, and it was the only time of year that we got to see some people, including my last remaining great-uncle from my grandfather’s side of the family. That Sunday was always special and it practically disappeared because she had to go camping or my cousin had to go to a golf tournament or something else that could’ve probably been done at any other time. It also bugged me because there were years when my family couldn’t attend Christmas dinners because of work or illness. We didn’t get those days moved so that they specifically fit our needs, we would just miss them. But Christmas has been dictated by that side of the family since 1998. In 2008 at Thanksgiving, they decided not to even make an attempt to come see us. (They went to see friends, as they’d done the year before.) That Thanksgiving happened to be the one where I spent the day prior cooking everything and then ended up being able to eat none of it when my mom’s sugar bottomed out. I nearly lost my mother that year, and I didn’t even know how to get in touch with them–on the off chance that they even cared. That Christmas, they didn’t want to celebrate it. I balked at that. I pretty much threw a tantrum that said that if they didn’t come then that meant that they really didn’t love us. They came, but they were all-too-thrilled to leave as early as possible. (They’ve left quickly since then.)
At Thanksgiving, my mom mentioned that she had been at the pain doctor the day before. Whether my cousin’s wife realized it or not, she rolled her eyes and made a disgusted look. After we ate, she and my aunt were talking about her son’s lack of appetite and how it might be related to his ADHD medicine. When I asked about the medicine, she rolled her eyes and told me. When I tried to give her some insight on how the medicine might be making him feel, she cut me off and acted like I was somehow invading on her privacy. (I’ve actually taken ADHD medicine in the past, and I thought I might be able to help her figure a way to help him stop losing weight.)
At Christmas, my parents and I couldn’t show up because of snow storm. They decided to celebrate it on Christmas with my grandmother anyway, even though they knew we couldn’t come. The cousin’s wife was pissed because my parents and I had decided not to make a journey that went over the river and over a mountain to get there. It didn’t seem to occur to her that we couldn’t get there because it was unsafe. Our lives were worth the risk, I guess.
The final straw was when I was watching television and got to have a news anchor announce to the rest of the Tennessee Valley that my cousin’s son happened to have some sort of developmental disorder. (He was in a performance art group for kids with disabilities and he was in the video, though they didn’t call him out by name.) I really didn’t appreciate finding out with the rest of the people in the viewing area. It seemed like the sort of thing that could have been discussed in the almost 11 years since his birth. I was pissed and I wrote a blog entry, which led to her calling me on the phone, getting my mom to hand me the phone, and then blessing me out. She wanted me to apologize and to promise never to talk about her on here again. I told her not to read about herself on here, but to never demand that I keep from talking about certain aspects of my life. Since then, the family has pretty much been split in two. No one (from the aunt, uncle, cousin, & cousin’s wife) acknowledged the birthdays of my mom and me. (Of course, my birthday has always been ignored by the cousin and his wife.) My cousin blocked me on Facebook. The only way that we find out what has gone on in their family is through my grandmother, who (this time) wasn’t mad at me for what I said.
Now is the turn of my maternal aunt.
I think that the two of us started drifting in 2002. I was annoyed at her reaction to the blog entry that had occurred back then and I didn’t appreciate being shut out of her life for almost 1 year afterward. I have to wonder if she would’ve continued to freeze me out if her childhood friend hadn’t died or if I hadn’t had the same surgery that the friend had had prior to her death. In 2003, things seemed to go back to normal for a little while, but it wasn’t long before I began to realize that I had completely lost her.
My aunt agreed with the cousin’s wife that my grandmother was abusing pain killers. By all accounts, she was even going into my grandmother’s house and counting the pills. She tried to get my mom to help do an intervention with her (and wanted her to go into a nursing home), which my mom only agreed to because my grandmother was falling down all the time. After a medicine was changed, though, my grandmother didn’t fall as much, and my mom changed her opinion on the whole thing. My aunt has still seemed to be of the opinion that no one really needs pain killers.
She has also participated in the discontinuation of family events, the non-contact, and some of the other unkind behaviors. I probably would’ve let it slide except that she never called or came to check on my mom any of the times she has been in the hospital, including when she was near death from the blood sugar thing or when my mom’s had her ankles operated on. In fact, for my mom to even get to talk to her sister, she’s had to make the long-distance calls to my aunt. If my aunt ever calls, she only talks for a few minutes at a time. (If my mom calls her, she’ll talk for an hour or more.) The calling thing bugs me because my aunt and uncle have money, and they know that my parents and I don’t.
She also was the person who told my mother that she wouldn’t help my parents pay for my books for college because I would never graduate. She’d gone from seeing me as this person who could do things to this person who would be a leech on society. She never helped contribute to our family when we nearly lost our house or when we struggled to get even basic necessities paid for. Instead, my dad’s sister would help. His sister, who had always been a bit of an absentee, volunteered to help out. She continued to help as long as she could, while my maternal aunt would go on trip after trip and buy expensive things, while continuing to claim that they had no money.
If you look at past blog entries, especially the last few years, my more annoying behaviors and attitudes corresponded quite well with the family issues.