Monday, August 07, 2006

Tired of Hating

Posted by Anonymous.

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal (or paternal!) mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


I had an unassisted birth. I know that is hard to understand for many people, I understand that it is not the right choice for everyone, etc, etc. But I did what I needed to do, what was right for me and my family, and I researched the hell out of it. I am a very careful person. I was willing to go to the hospital if something felt/went wrong. However, I did not need to go to the hospital and it was the most amazing experience of my life. Because of the birth of my son, my second child, I became a strong, confident woman.

This is not what I am upset about, this is simply background.

Here is what I am upset about, and I cannot seem to let it go, despite talking about it with my husband and my closest friends. I’m hoping that blogging this will help. I used to have my own blog, but family began reading it and I clammed up. I am extremely private, hence the unassisted birth. Blogging is different, because it is like a journal with the added release of knowing that someone out there (that you don’t need to have contact with if you don’t want to) may be reading it, may be hearing it, may be relating to it. And it’s easy to still feel private, especially when you have The Basement.

So, I have a cousin who is an asshole. Hardly a rarity, no doubt. He gives himself much leeway in his life; he allows himself to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and pity those who get offended. He does not offer the same courtesy to anyone else. He is right, you are wrong, the end. And he is willing to offer his opinion on anything and everything, and he is always right. Brilliant fellow, isn't he?

After my son was born, my children, my husband, and myself were attending another young cousin’s birthday. Asshole cousin was there, too. We began arguing about doctors. He was maintaining that all doctors are altruistic, and to say otherwise was sacrilege. I said that while I was sure some of them were, I was also sure that many of them were there for the money, or at least had stayed for the money. If only because doctors are human, like the rest of us. People do good things for bad reasons, and bad things for good reasons, and so on. He became deeply offended (I had no idea why, since he is an accountant, and as far as I know is not a personal friend of any sort of doctor). I usually enjoy a good argument, and thought this was just that, a normal, semi-intellectual argument. A day or two later I emailed him a link to an online book about how difficult it is to be a medical student and resident. (I just spent a while googling for it, but no luck as I can’t remember the author. A shame because it was fascinating and insightful.) What I got back was a terrible email that said, amongst other things, that my son should have died because maybe then I would understand how important/wonderful/useful doctors truly are. His email was filled with venom and vitriol. I was shocked. I had no idea he was so offended. Hell, I still don’t really know if he *was* offended, given how he likes to swing himself about. He may have just been messing with me. But either way, the message really scarred me. I could not believe that anyone, anywhere, least of all a relative, would wish my child dead to teach me a lesson. That moment was when I finally understood how terrorists and other purveyors of war think. Maybe that is a bit dramatic, but how else to explain the deep visceral reaction I had? I stopped talking to him that day. I spent months trying to come to terms with that email. Asshole cousin is not a parent, he doesn’t understand, he is an idiot, he did not really mean it, babe was young and I was hormonal, on and on. In the end I simply could not forgive him. I don’t know if he even realized I wasn’t talking to him, honestly. We were not close before that. I stopped showing up at family events, or if I did, I avoided him (and his wife; although I like her, I cannot fathom what she sees in him).

After a while I heard that he and his wife had been trying to get pregnant. There were difficulties. She had endometriosis. Eventually, after fertility drugs and other treatments, she did get pregnant. They were so happy, everyone was so happy (although asshole cousin has managed to alienate almost all the family at one point or another, no one wishes the pain of infertility on anyone). Even I was happy, if only because I figured he might deepen a bit. I also worried for the child, especially if parenthood did not magically transform him into a person who was not an asshole. I also learned via my mother that I and my children were no longer welcome in their home. Why? Because my children are not vaccinated (again, much research, just the conclusion my husband and I came to, you are welcome to your own opinion, I know that one is a hard call). He and his wife were afraid my diseased children might spread germs to her, and it was super important she stay healthy. Plus, I shit you not, their doctor recommended they not have contact with us as it could be risky. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you are vaccinated against certain diseases, and vaccinations are so effective, why would you be worried about catching said diseases? At least now I had some reasons why he might have been so rabid during our argument; my children are very healthy, and I had no problems getting pregnant. In fact, my daughter was a surprise. Ok, I said to myself, if you are in such a rough spot it would be tough *not* to be jealous of someone that had an easy time getting pregnant and then did things that you deemed irresponsible. I don’t take my good fortune lightly. I know how lucky I am to have my healthy, wonderful children. And I don't make any major decisions without first doing tons of research.

Well, friends, this is when things take a turn for the worse. His son was stillborn. After years of trying and a joyful pregnancy, they had to face this tragedy. There was no cause of death discovered. It was terrible and difficult for everyone, especially since my Aunt, asshole cousin’s mom and my mother’s sister, had also lost her first child (a son who would have been asshole cousin's older brother) a day or two after birth. It was awful. I felt terrible. And yet, I am ashamed to say, I also felt like that was karma in action. I did my best to be empathetic, and I truly was to a large degree. No mother, no father, should have to face that. One of the worst pains for a parent is losing a child. They aren’t kidding when they say that having a child means agreeing to have your heart walk around outside your body. I sucked up my pain at the things he had said to me and wrote several letters (carefully, gently written) and even spoke on the phone a couple of times. Because, face it, you need all the help you can get in a situation like that. But please, internet, forgive me for having a small part of me begging to scream, “can you believe you wished this on me you stupid asshole?!?”

After they lost their son, they felt best attempting to get pregnant right away (I have no opinion on this, I know everyone finds their own path through grief). It took them only two months and she was pregnant again, this time with twin girls (and no fertility drugs this time, a wonderful miracle). She is pregnant right now, due in the fall. I have thought this through and I really am happy for them to have this joy and healing coming to them. I am excited to see the babies. We moved away several years ago, but we will be coming back to their town for my sister’s wedding next spring, when the twins will be 4-6 months old. I love babies, and I am sure they will be amazing little girls.

I thought I had finally worked through all my bad feelings. But then. Oh, but then. My mom told me of a recent conversation she had with asshole, that went something like:

Asshole Cousin: “Do you think anonymous blogger will come to our house when she comes to town again?”

Mom: “I’m not sure, that's between the two of you.” (I love my mom! she tries to stay out of the drama!)

Asshole Cousin: “Well, we hope she will, we would like her to. You can tell her we have forgiven her.”

Holy shit. I cannot believe the rage that flooded through me when my mom told me about that conversation. FORGIVEN ME FOR WHAT? Internet, I am pissed. I swear to you that I have gone over everything in my mind, thinking back carefully, asking questions of my other cousin who witnessed our doctor argument…the result is, what the hell would he need to forgive me for? For making my own birth choices? For saying that all doctors are not altruistic? For not vaccinating? I know that given his history with myself and other members of our family that he most likely does not even recall wishing my child dead (or he would never admit to remembering). I don’t want to hate this asshole cousin anymore. I want to be zen and calm and forgiving. I want to send his daughters little presents in the mail. I don’t want to avoid talking about him with my Aunt, who I love. But I also don’t want to suppress everything that I am in an effort to keep the peace. No one should have free rein to act like such an asshole. Plus I feel like I am wasting too much of my time and energy on this schmuck. ARRRRGGGGHHHH. I wish I did not have to see him ever again, but I’m tired of avoiding family functions because of him. And I am definitely NOT missing my sister’s wedding. She, for reasons unfathomable, manages to ignore his bludgeoning of everyone around him.

Hopefully this blog will help me release some of this. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks.


SUEB0B said...

Your cousin obviously likes to create drama and to try to draw people into it. Don't worry about what goes on in his head. Make it mean nothing to you, since he is obviously nutso and can't be trusted. Treat him with the same courtesy you would a barking dog - give him some room, back away slowly and do not bark back. That is all the thought he deserves.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

This is an awful situation. I have a family member who is also very trying. Though she's never wished my child dead. I think you need to decide if you can move past your differences, independent of what he says or does. If you can get to a place where you can wish him well, make small talk and just walk away when he picks a fight, you'll enjoy your family gatherings much more. Only you know how possible that is. And it may only be possible for very short periods of time, initially. But it would be tragic for you to loose contact with teh rest of your family because of this one person.

Awesome Mom said...

Boy this guy sounds like a real piece of work. I agree wit hte other posters. Avoid him if you can and when you can't don't go past small talk. I think that every family had a person like this. It is trying and frustrating.

Angel Baby said...

Wow. Amazing. Family can be such an amazing source of strife and drama. And stupidity.

I have people in my family that I no longer speak to. I avoid them when I can, but when I can't I avoid talking to them. If they think anything about it, I have no idea because I've made it clear to everyone else that they are NOT to report back to me. I want no part of the drama these people create.

I know how to be polite when I am seething, just to save face, be the bigger person, and avoid embarassment. I don't gush or even smile. I just avoid being outright rude.

Sometimes I remind myself that I CAN choose my family. Not everyone has rights to me or my daughter. And everyone is welcome, if need be, to kiss my ass.

I don't stir shit up. I avoid confrontation. You have handled yourself exceptionally!! Some things, I believe, are not forgivable. When people are crazy-makers, and they hurt you, what can you do but protect yourself and your children?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be the voice of dissent here, and feel free to disagree because, my need to speak out on bad behavior has led to me not being spoken to by my youngest sister for many years. We are slowly, carefully reconciling now because people finally started to back me up and she is no longer able to paint herself the victim in all her little dramas.

BUT...the reason people act like this is that nobody ever calls them on it. Tell him he was an asshole and why. Clear the air. Ignoring something only causes it to become a gangrenous sucking wound that will never heal properly.

You've nothing to lose since you're relationship is already essentially non-existent, correct? Talk to Auntie, whom you care about, explain what you are about to do and that it in no way affects your feelings for her, and that you hope you can still be close.

Take it or leave it. :?)

krista said...

Anonymous, I think you are right. But then, suebob sounds right too. It's a tough call. You know- being the person that calls people on their behaviour means you'll never be popular. People get tired of being around the one who always calls people on their behaviour, that being said- it IS important sometimes todo just that.

I gather from reading what you wrote that this cousin will continually get under your skin. The relationship is just that kind. I guess you need to decide how much of it to let into your life. Something I employ when my family is acting crazy is to just detach, and observe. Is it possible to do this? Trying hard not to personalize his words, but just detaching and observing them?

Another piece of advice I got from someone regarding my crazy family that was helpful was that "they don't need our critisism, they need our help"

I don't know. Your situation is quite the story. Wow. Good luck to him and his wife with a healthy birth of their twins, and good luck to you in sorting out where you stand in your relationship with your cousin.

reddragonsangel said...

OH- my I have a family memeber who is just like that she had the same thing happen to her her baby lived for a day, and now she is pregnant with twins- again, no one in the family calls her on her bad behavior and somehow, I am the one who gets the brunt of all of it- having a bad day? blame it on me! And I, like you, just like to live my own life- the problem is the rest of the family are enablers who never stop her from acting this way- there is always some excuse-all I can tell you is, vent to your hubby ( maybe your mom) and be there for the babies, because they will need real love and good examples, becuse thier parent is too wrapped up in themselves to notice that life is difficilt and that acting like an asshole doesn't make it any easier on anyone. Good luck and my heart goes out to you- but unfortunately, you never seem to be able to get rid of these family members!

Michele said...

Yes, he is a thoughtless, self-serving jerk and should be eternally apologetic for wishing your child dead. I agree 200%.

But it sounds like what they were going through with infertility, etc. was making him crazier than usual. Having been through it myself and now being very happily on the other side of the fence, I understand. I am NOT excusing him, but a part of me understands. When you go through infertility you are constantly bombarded by people who very easily do something you cant. You become obsessed with your failure and everyone else's success. I admit I was constantly judging myself and my husband against "All of them". Wrong and unfair? Absolutely. And also absolutely unavoidable.
So you are miserable and angry and fearing that you will never get the one thing you really want, and then you put all of your hopes and your entire future into the hands of medicine, the hands of a doctor. You both love the doctor for possibly being able to give you a child, and hate them because they represent something that you desperatly want and cant do on your own when "everyone else" is able to do it so easily. It made me crazy for three years.

I think you were right in everything you did and if I were you I would continue to protect myself from his opinions and attitudes. Personally I would ask my close family members to not share anything with him about you and your family other than the surface stuff. I would not hide from him though, because regardless of what he thinks happened, you were right and he was wrong and you shouldnt be "shunned". He has so much to learn when he becomes a parent and I think there will definitely come a time for him to understand the weight of what he said to you one day.

Anonymous said...

I work with a person like this. Everything they say is right and you are wrong and stupid for even thinking of disagreeing. The language and temperament get downright NASTY when you dare to dissent. And I can't avoid this person, because they work about 4 offices over from me. They make everyone's life a living HELL. While they have not wished my child dead, I have found out about other hurtful things they have said about me to others. Including digs about my "tiny" house and how much money I spend and how I ruined their work schedule by having the audacity to get pregnant. They are all in my business and want to bother me about how much I work and my sex life. So when I dared call them on the "work too much" comments, I was expected to apologize and capitulate because I had hurt their feelings.
I say all of this to say - just ignore it. I do not speak to this person unless I absolutely have to. I send presents to their child on it's birthday and at Christmas. I just try to stay above the drama. Yes, I know it hurts when these things come back to you, but what he really wants is a reaction. And by giving it to him, that just adds fuel to the fire. Yes, you could confront him since he has gotten away with it for so long, but is it really going to change anything? My office mate is not going to change their behavior because I cause a big ruckus. It will probably even be worse, and people will have to choose sides, and it will just get uglier than it already is. So do what you want for the kids, and even his wife, but just rise above the whole thing and know that he is an idiot and everyone knows who he really is.
I used to really worry about this, and it caused me a lot of stress, but I finally just let it go - even though it was really hard.

Andrea said...

I agree with Anonymous at 11:34 (the first anonymous). Maybe just ask him what it is he's forgiven you for. Open a discussion, and see if some differences can't be resolved. Maybe he's grown up some after some of his difficulties (and I'm not saying his stillborn son was a lesson to him, but tragedy has a way of changing people and realigning perspectives) and won't be so difficult to reason with and will be more open for you to express to him the ways you felt slighted by his previous comments.

I have had problems in the past with my sister-in-law but they seem to have minimized after an evening where I just couldn't look the other way anymore and we got into a screaming match and pulled out all the dirty laundry. 2 years later, you could almost call us friends.

Not saying anything isn't always taking the high road if clearing the air could better the relationship with your cousin and his family. If the conversation doesn't go well, then I'd consider it my final effort and follow Suebob's advice about treating him as someone to be avoided and ignored.

Anonymous said...

I think that confrontation is a good idea... if we live in a world in which jerk people acknowledge that you are right, they are jerks, and then beg your forgiveness. But I don't think we live in that world.

The problem with jerk people is they tend to also be incredibly stupid and stubborn. Even if they SEE that they are jerks, they won't admit it. So you will continue to spend your life butting heads with someone who claims his poop don't stink. And he'll continue to forgive you. The man who wished your son was dead. The ADULT MAN who wished your CHILD was dead. I'm not sure what kind of conflict resolution you can have with a person like that. I've never had a child, never lost a child. Yet somehow I know to never joke about wishing someone's baby hadn't lived. You don't learn that by losing a child yourself, it's something that you know simply from being human. This guy doesn't have that.

For your sanity? I'd go with Suebob's approach. He no longer exists. Ignore him. He is empty air. Do not respond. If he communicates through your Aunt, emails you, calls or writes you a letter, if his entire body is burned by napalm in your front yard, he does not exist. You will continue to get clobbered by this guy if you try to interact with him. You can forgive him in your heart and still refuse to be his target.

Brenda said...

Yes, people only treat you the way you let them(Or however Ann Landers used to say it). It is hard to do, but it is true. I have in the past gone years without talking to parts of my family, and I would do it again. Behave or no contact for you, I just do not have the time or energy to deal with the bull.

I would give him a chance at the wedding. Maybe his message was garbled. But other than that be polite when you have to (but not nice or friendly) and avoid him the rest of the time. That doesn't mean you can't send presents to his kids, but you have decide how much contact you are willing to have, and when he crosses a line, try to tell him. Like if he brings up the doctor topic again, just say "I do what is right for my family and it is not up for debate", and if he continues use the "Pass the bean dip" response.

Jaelithe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say about this. I wish I did. My own sister's boyfriend like this-- the type of person who must always be right, and has no fear of visciously insulting those who imply he may be wrong. Woe betide any who might disagree with him, or, worse yet, point out logical fallacies in his often poorly-constructed arguments, especially if that dissenter should happen to be female.

I just saw my sister in person again for the first time after months of our barely speaking to one another, because she and I had a big argument during which I told her, among other things, I wasn't ever going to be willing to put up with his bullshit in silence, like she so often does, like she told me she wished I would do.

I have often (always politely) openly disagreed with him, and resisted his attempts to impose his opinions on me (Who is he, a man who is younger than I am, a man who has no children yet, yet presumes to give parenting advice to a parent; a man who has not even officially MARRIED into my family, to think he has the right to tell me what to do with my life? I don't think so!)

I firmly believe that someone in his life needs to muster the courage to call him on his inappropriate behavior, or he will never, ever change.

However, so far, my stance has done me little good in terms of concrete effects. He, as far as I know, still always needs to be right, and maintains I am a mean and stupid woman, and my decision to continually stand up to his intellectual bullying has created a lot of trouble in my family, and added to my sister's stress in her relationship.

But I feel I can't compromise my own principles just to smooth the waters. I've been bullied a lot in my life, and one day I finally made a permanent decision not to ever let another bully bend my will.

I really don't know what to do. I wish I could tell you.

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crazymumma said...

oh how horrible for freakin' everyone.
I do not say this with regulartity...but sorry honey...he sounds very unhinged. And for some reasons because of the 'radical' choices you have made (to his mind), it seems you have become the vent for all his ....what... shit?
I say, walk into it with no flies on you, let yourself be the best person you can to those babies. Fuck him, don't worry about his those babies. Walk away clean. Let him deal with his own shit.
Sometimes you gotta be surgical....


Anonymous said...

Original poster here. Thank you so much for all of your comments, I loved reading them all, happy to know I wasn't the only one facing such an asshole, happy to know I wasn't crazy for having trouble deciding on how to act towards him in the future. I have to rewrite two comments that made me giggle:

"And everyone is welcome, if need be, to kiss my ass." (by AngelBaby) and

"...if his entire body is burned by napalm in your front yard, he does not exist." (by anonymous)

I am going to hold those in my mind for the next time I see asshole cousin (that and imagine referring to him as asshole cousin to his face). I really would love to call him out on his bad behavior, and I'm not saying I won't (seeing as up to this point I am the only one in the family who has done so), but I think for the sake of my sister and her wedding I will do my best not to on this trip. Did I mention she is getting married on a cruise? I get claustrophobic imagining being trapped on a ship with him. Gah. Have to become an expert on planning activities that are impossible to bring babies along with. Of course, after the babes are born it is possible he will realize life is fundamentally changed and he will bow out of the cruise ship for sanity's sake. Not counting on his sanity, though. (I'm sure many people enjoy cruising with infants, I'm just not sure he understands the joys of sleep deprivation quite yet, and the possible effects upon cruise enjoyment level.)

Another mantra, a compilation:
"Be cool. Be polite, but not 'nice'. Please pass the bean dip."

Anonymous said...

Maybe by forgiven he meant, "I have gotten over my anger and frustration with you" but didn't quite have the eloquence to put it that way. Maybe he was concerned about the choices you have made regarding unassisted birth and not vaccinating your children. Maybe he thought that these two things are quite out of the ordinary and dangerous, and he was concerned about the health and well-being of your children and yourself. You have to admit that those 2 things are not the norm and many (myself included) would consider them quite dangerous and weird choices. I mean, if you get a tattoo on your face you have to expect some people to look at you funny. When you do not vaccinate, and you deliver a baby alone, some people are going to be freaked out by it.

If you never had a good relationship with him, why care so much? If you want to re-establish something you've lost with him, then you got to take him as he is. Not everyone acts like we want them to.

Anonymous said...

"When you do not vaccinate, and you deliver a baby alone, some people are going to be freaked out by it."

I'm not the original poster, but I don't think she's freaky at all. She certainly doesn't need to be "forgiven" because of non-conformist personal medical choices.

Medical professionals perform various procedures on women and babies and they don't find out for 20 years that it causes birth defects. Anyone see the bit in the Wall Street Journal about ultrasound waves damaging developing brains? What about the stats that amniocentesis tests can increase the risk of miscarriage by 1%?

It's a fact that women who have babies in the hospital are more likely to have medically invasive births. Not because they need it, but because it's more convenient for the doctor's schedule and less likely to result in malpractice suits. Well, I don't want my health at the mercy of some HMO covering their backsides or a doctor trying to fit in as many patients as possible in one day. And women who turn to traditional doctors with these questions are often treated like fools instead of adults with legitimate concerns.

love and fear mama said...

Chiming in rather late in the game... unassisted birth, not so hard for me to understand at all! Crossed my mind many a time when I was getting nowhere with midwifery care and all alone with a c/s scar from #1.... So no judgement there.
As someone who was told outright by a few medical professionals (snort) that my last child should have died, as well as myself (I deserved to bleed out/rupture etc...) for daring to have a homebirth after c/s.... I know that inner rage. That HOW DARE YOU! I was absolutely insensed when I read this. Had to walk away for a few hours to mull it over.
Still mulling/fuming.
Civility. Civility is the only way to go! Pass the bean dip and the occasional please and thank you. This person is not derserving of your time and energy. Easier said than done no doubt... but if it would make you feel better, set up a trust fund for those twins therapy bills later in life! Goodness knows they are gonna need it! Or even better, imagine one of them going into midwifery, unassisted birthing in a remote cove off the ocean and no vaxing! There... doesn't that feel better?! I've had the term schadenfreude thrown at me a few times over the last few weeks... wikki it. Oodles of fun.
best wishes...
*sadly as a doula... I wonder if a/h cousins wife will even be in any shape to go on a cruise? I can only count on my fingers how many twin "births" that happen these days.... they may have to "decline attending" for her healing?! Sad but a smidgen of truth... sigh.

Anonymous said...

There is a slight chance that even with being vaccinated, that one could be contagious. If you've been exposed to the disease, while your body is fighting it off (i.e. while the vaccination is mounting its defense), you could be contagious. It's a very, pretty small slight chance. So if your children were sick, you could possibly carry the disease and infect someone else, but the chance is slight. And the reverse is also true -- you could carry the disease, despite being vaccinated, to your children who are not. Also, some people outgrow an MMR immunity, and have to be re-vaccinated.

TweedleDea said...

I haven't read all of the comments, so I don't know if I am repeating something, but, I don't think your baby should have died. I think you are brave and fabulous for following your heart. I think you are the stronger person, and I think that you will be able to let it go and send the twins presents.