Wednesday, October 20, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 10 Someone You Need to Let Go

I have already let my cousin go. Or maybe she let me go. Or her fiance forced her to let me go. Whatever happened, I hope it's only temporary.

"You need to let it go," my mother tells me.

I haven't seen her since January. We have let go in the physical sense. We haven't spoken or gotten together. We haven't talked on facebook and I think we barely texted once. I have seen two of her sisters, one I love and the other I can't stand, and they both shrugged when I asked about her. The younger sister, the bratty one I don't like, said that my cousin lives like she's in prison and that her fiance won't let her visit us because he doesn't like our company. But even though we've let go, I've been hung up on it. My feelings were hurt and I have worried terribly about her and her situation. I need to let it go emotionally now too.

The thing is, I don't know what specifically happened. She just disappeared out of my life and this is a cousin I was close with. We talked all the time and spent many weekends together. We texted like teenagers. She was in my wedding and never missed a family event. Until it all stopped.

I never thought my cousin would be the type to succumb to an abusive relationship like this. She always seemed so sure of herself and she's the kind of girl that people call a ball-buster. She didn't take crap and get hung up on guys the way some girls do. I never saw her worry if someone she dated was going to call her. Sometimes she'd purposely not answer, just to make a suitor suffer, and lord knows she had plenty of suitors. My cousin was the kind of girl that men unanimously describe as a "hot girl" and I've never seen someone who could dance like her, except my other cousin, who is equally as hot on the other side of my family. Luckily they don't know each other.

She looked terrible at my sister's wedding in December. She brought the fiance, a fat redneck with rosacea whose face is so red and swollen he looks like he's perpetually in need of an epi-pen. He's so out of her league and I think he knows it, which is why he wants to control her. I've always seen her appeal to him, but never vice versa. What does she see in this sullen, angry asshole who hates everyone except his fellow white rednecks? He's not even her type and he's ugly. To make matters worse he has three daughters who are six, eight and ten. They live with him because their mother is the usual fill in the white trash blank of restraining orders, halfway houses, misdemeanors and oxycontin. 

We couldn't wait to see her at the wedding, but she wasn't herself. She didn't dance or socialize. She sat and sulked along with her fiance, who complained and wanted to leave early because his family Christmas party was the next night and they live almost three hours away. He didn't even want to stay for the reception and we insisted, so he got mad.

In January, she came for a weekend after they fought. I didn't hear from her after that and I imagine what happened is that he blew up on her after she got home and forbid her ever coming back down to see me again, like I was a bad influence on her or something. I'm sure he took his guilt trip right out of the Toxic Relationship Handbook.

I can't blame this entirely on the fiance. It's also my aunt, who is mad at my branch of the extended family for putting her in rehab last winter. She's a master manipulator and has convinced several family members that we were actually in the wrong. At first my cousin was on board with us. She knew her mother was a drug addict and begged for our help when her mother OD'd three separate times in just two months. She was at the intervention begging her mother to go, but my cousin grew up in a family dominated by addiction and those family dynamics are complicated and laced with enabling, which she is not immune to. Sadly, she's also not immune to alcohol. Over the past few years I've noticed her starting to use some of her mother's same skills for coping with stress. Too many times I caught my cousin drinking alone and to excess.

It's possible that the combination of abusive mother and abusive fiance forced her denounce her loyalty to me and my side of the family who was only trying to help and save her mother's life. Some people don't want help.

I think my cousin feels torn. I think her mother and fiance manipulate her with guilt. A large part of her problem is that she refuses to live alone. She has an irrational fear of living in an apartment by herself and she always says she can't live with room mates either. This stubborn phobia has caused her to live at home with her drug addict, out of her mind mother into well into her mid-twenties. My cousin has a thriving career and makes plenty of money to support herself financially living on her own. She just can't support herself emotionally.

When my cousin met her fiance, I think she was impressed by the fact that he had a house where she could live. Perhaps the idea of "playing house" appealed to her at first, though I've certainly heard her complain about those three kids, who now call her Mommy. It appears that she feels she has only two choices - go live at home with her desperately ill mother, stepfather and equally disturbed younger sisters or feel like she has her own home and her own family and her own house with the abusive, controlling idiot of a hopefully not future husband. Neither situation is positive or healthy, but maybe being at home with her mother was so bad that home life with her fiance doesn't seem as bad in comparison. To an outsider, it is bad, just in a different way. I just want to shake some sense in her and make her see that getting her own place and living on her own isn't so terrifying. She has other choices. Sadly, she's not able to listen and I learned a long time ago not to offer my opinions on other people's unhealthy relationships because they'll always get mad at you when you do.

She RSVP'ed "yes" to my baby shower. I didn't want her to come because I'm one of those girls who grubs for gifts or wants all the attention. I wanted her to come because I missed her. We all missed her. Everyone wanted to see her. She said she was coming and we were so excited. But then she never called and never showed up. I waited and she stood me up. I wrote to her on facebook that I was really disappointed and wished she could have at least called because I had looked forward to seeing her and spending the weekend with her like we used to do. I never got a response and I spent the next week wondering what could have possibly happened. That was when my mother told me I had to just let it go and let people learn their lessons the hard way.

I'm letting my cousin go, but I hope it's only temporary and that she will soon have the strength to extricate herself from the abuse. I hope that when or if she does that, that we can pick up where we left off and that she'll be down for a weekend of beach, shopping at Ross, lunch at Sweet Tomatoes and romantic comedy matinees again one day.


Jean_Phx said...

That makes me sad - especially at this time when you sound so open with the new baby. And wanting to share this experience with someone you care so much about.

Mine said...

Just another quick thought about your cousin - although she may complain about those kids, it's possible she is really attached to them. She may see herself as a saviour of them and of their father, and is hanging in there because she thinks she can change him and make a difference in their lives. While she may help the kids, she won't ever change him.

At one stage I was in a really toxic relationship and while I eventually walked away - when he pushed me after I got too "real" pointing out his problems with addiction and being bipolar - the thing that hurt me the most was walking away from his kid, who had his own share of problems but who was really sweet. I thought he deserved better, but at least that kid had a mother. A really dumb, lazy mother, but a mother nonetheless. If he didn't have one, I might still be there.

kerry said...

I wonder if the smart, strong women might have a harder time than others admitting they got sucked into an abusive relationship. Nobody expects that they would, so to step out and say "oops" might be too embarassing.

Sad to say, this is a problem that I think she has to solve herself. I had a friend who was in one of those relationships (though no children were involved). We could talk to her all day, and it didn't make any difference. She was convinced that she didn't deserve anything better. That it was her fault. That nobody else would want her and it was better to have somebody than nobody.

Eventually she got out, but it was a thing she had to do herself. I hope your cousin can do it, too.

monica said...

Letting her goes does seem to be the necessary thing to do at this point, for sure.
But I've been an a bad relationship. I believe it was abusive, but I hate to say that because it feels like an insult to women who have been/are in truly horrifying abusive relationships.
As someone who's been in something somewhat like this, I can understand a lot. I imagine that it probably took a lot to even attend the wedding; I bet fiance didn't want her to go, especially not without him, and she felt that if she didn't spend the night placating him then he'd leave and she'd have to. Just my opinion though.
Regardless of why this is happening, I really hope you'll just let her know once in awhile that you're still here for her. When I was in my relationship, I couldn't go anywhere without the boyfriend really and so my friends just gave up and stopped talking to me. It made me feel even more alone and dependant.
As well, the thing that helped me to realize was a tough, but wonderfully written email from an old friend of mine saying that I was totally different from the strong smart person he used to know. And the girl he used to know would know she deserved better. The next time he insulted me, I knew it was just done.

Maybe you'll be the one to write that email for your cousin, and maybe she'll be ready to hear it.

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