Stressed by my Aunt and Cousin

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-16-2001
Stressed by my Aunt and Cousin
Wed, 01-29-2014 - 3:53pm

Hi I really need some advice please. It concerns my Aunt and my cousins and I really don't know what to do anymore.

I'm 38 and I lost my Dad when I was 23 to a heart attack. We were incredibly close and I've never really gotten over it. I grew up also very close to his sister, my Aunt who I refer to and my older cousins with an 8 year age gap between me and the female and a 10 year age gap between me and the male.

To cut a very long story short, in 2009 I experienced a very painful breakup when my live in boyfriend just up and left and took a large amount of my savings with him. He disappeared for months and eventually reappeared, expecting me to take him back, and when I didn't, he threatened not only me but my family. I eventually had to take a restraining order against him.

In the same year I met and fell for someone who to this day I still love deeply, however despite leading me up the garden path with his declarations of affection, he turned out to already have a girlfriend. This broke me and led to a period of real depression and anxiety which I am to this day struggling with. I have been in and out of therapy, am on anti depressants and have had many suicidal thoughts. This man came on to me in a very flirtatious and sexual way and I fell for all of it. My confidence is now in tatters as I have to work with him and see him every day and he went from being all over me, to basically ignoring me and making cruel and degrading remarks.

On top of this, I was also abused by another man who I had placed trust in (not sexually but leaning very much towards it in that if I didn't sleep with him, I wouldn't progress in my career). short, I have struggled deeply to even stay alive over the past 5 years. I have lost contact with many people, have become quite reclusive and have lost all my confidence.

And over the past few years she was one of the people i didn't see much of. HOWEVER - as she is my dad's sister, I did try - if I was in the area of her home, I would call, she wouldn't be in.  I would call again with flowers, she wouldn't be in, I would call her to see if she was ok and she would reply harshly with 'the flowers are dead I was out of the country' (I would leave the flowers on her porch),

Any time I went travelling or would think of her, I would call. Nearly every time I called her, she had some sort of retort for me about how she hadn't seen my mom in so long, (my mom can't drive) and if I would say 'why don't you call and see her I'm sure she'd love it?' she would reply with 'why would I do that?' (meaning she expected my mom to be the one making all the effort.

I even went so far to write her a letter to explain that I had been very low and apologised for not seeing her just as often and explained the issues I'd been having with my ex, but no reply.

I  never forget her birthday or Christmas. For the past 8 years since my 30th, she has never sent me a card and that hurts.

In March 2013 on her 71st birthday, she underwent surgery for removal of a cancerous lump. I found out about this via messages from others on facebook. I panicked, and the next day I drove to the hospital to see her.

Bottom line is SHE IS MY DADDY'S SISTER and the only living connection apart from my brother that I have to him.

She was high on meds but let me in and seemed quite chatty explaining what had happened. However the reaction I got from my cousin was completely different and unexpected. Can I just add that these people profess to be Christians and are never out of church...I said hi to my cousin and told her how I glad i was to see her (she lives in a different state than me and each time she is in my state, I don't find out about it until afterwards, she never visits, never calls - again, I have always tried to make an effort when she had her first baby, her birthdays, anniversaries etc). Nothing from her to me.

I gave her a hug but my heart sank because her reaction was one of complete and total 'What are you doing here??'

I am high on the autistic/aspergers spectrum and am willing to admit that my timing is not the best. I know in hindsight I probably should not have went to the hospital on the day of my aunt's surgery but I was scared and I wanted to help.  Lyn just looked at me with total horror that I was there and made no effort to talk to me.

When I left, I asked to speak with her for a brief moment while the nurse was with my aunt. Again, I told Lyn how sorry I was I hadn't seen her in so long and tried to explain that I'd had a rough time. She was very tough on me and said 'I haven't seen you in years, you can't just turn up when it suits you. I haven't seen your mum either and my mum did a lot for your mum when your dad died'. She had me in tears. When I tried to explain to her that I DO make an effort with her mom, she said 'well instead of just arriving at her house, you should call first'.

Again, I admit my timing was totally off - but my Aunt helped out on the day my dad died - and that was really the last we saw of her. I don't know what she has told her daughter regarding my mum - but every time Lyn is back home, every time there has been a party, a christening, a wedding, it has always been my family - my mom, brother and me - that have made the effort. Nothing from them. So whereas I can understand Lyn was thrown by my impromptu visit - why is she blaming us when she has made no effort at all??  I have lived alone for 10 years and my aunt has NEVER visited me, despite being 15 minutes away by car.  The thing about her doing a lot for my mom is COMPLETELY untrue.

So - again, I wrote to Lyn and apologised for calling unannounced at the hospital.  I said I'd like to stay in touch with her and told her how much I loved her. I sent my email, number and address. That was almost a year ago and I have heard nothing back.

Now anytime my aunt disappears off facebook or - like Monday it was my birthday - I don't receive a greeting or a card - I think she's dead and I panic. Then upon discovering she's not dead and facebooking her she just launches into a speech about how many tests she's having or how her heart is at risk from chemo or how she's 'only slightly' sorry she missed my birthday.

I am NOT trying to sound selfish in light of her cancer. I will be heartbroken if she dies. I have asked her numerous times now if I can visit and get brushed off with 'oh I have a hospital appointment that day' or something.

I am desperately trying to cling to the family members I have left and I feel none of them care. I don't know what I did wrong - I'm only 38 but Lyn is 46 and David is 48. My brother doesn't feel this guilt as he lives out of the country. I carry it all on my own. I tried to talk to my mom and she told me that my Aunt has always been completely dramatic, over the top and prone to exaggeration. I remember when my dad was alive and she used to arrive at our house on his days off and you could hear her coming at the top of the driveway announcing 'oh my father my father's dying!' about my grandfather when there was nothing wrong with him. My dad used to hide upstairs and try to get me to tell her he wasn't home because he couldn't bear her dramatics!

I just didn't see it when I was growing up. I do remember her blaming my grandmother for things that were really unfair and always thinking my dad was the preferred child, but I thought she loved me as she always said I was important to her because her son (my cousin Richard) died just a few days before I was born.

I just don't know what to do anymore. It's like a weight hanging on me and it keeps me awake at night with worry. I don't even feel like I could go to her funeral if she dies soon. I don't think I could cope with Lyn's attitude.

It's like I'm the one, my mom is the one just expected to make all the effort. I honestly don't think if I died she'd even realise I was gone. My last contact with her was this evening and I told her I won't be hassling her anymore about when I can visit, I just wanted her to know that I'm here. I'm just so scared about what she is telling Lyn, if it's the truth or not. Lyn looked at me with such anger and hatred that I don't think I could ever face her again, I'm genuinely terrified.

Because of my condition, I can get extremely anxious and panicked - and there are days I feel that my heart can't take the strain of worrying about this. :(

I'd really appreciate any advice or help. Thank you. xCry

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 01-31-2014 - 10:42am

I think this is something that you should discuss in therapy, if you are still going (and it seems like you should be).  Basically your dad didn't seem to like his own sis that much and your mom doesn't seem to be that concerned about her, so why are you taking this burden on yourself?  You have made several overtures to both your aunt & cousin and they have ignored you or responded rudely, so it's time to forget about them.  It's sad that they don't seem to want a family relationship w/ you but you can't force other people to want to be with you either.  I'm sure you have done nothing wrong--based on how you described your aunt, she has her own issues.  So I can't see you wasting any more effort trying to get them to like you.  It's like if you liked a guy and he told you there was no way he would ever want to date you but you kept asking him out--it's a losing battle.

I know this is not the main topic, but it did stick in my  mind that you say you have to work with a man who used you--is this really the only possible job that you could ever get?  Have you tried looking elsewhere?  It might be better for your mental health to just try to find another job and not have to see him every day.