So while in Tennessee I met up with my cousin whom I haven’t seen since I was eleven. I must confess that I was completely overwhelmed with conflicting emotions and wasn’t sure I could go see her.
You see I come from a family that is absolutely crazy…and not the typical crazy that afflicts all families. I’m talking hardcore, red neck, circus freak crazy. It was not a healthy, safe or nurturing environment to grow up in. Quite frankly there were times it was down right scary. I no longer have a relationship with my Granny or my Aunt. I discovered that the emotional head games and manipulation coupled with the constantly reliving the past was not good for me and I found it impossible to keep the crazy in check. We all (people in general) have some crazy it’s just some people (those who are mentally healthy) can control their crazy. I have been trying to control my crazy my whole life. Using my Grandmother, mother and Aunt as an example I knew exactly how I didn’t wish to end up living my life. Nor do I wish to spend every waking moment reliving the horrible and unjust things I suffered as a child. Needless to say I have extremely limited contact with my family.
Back to my cousin J…. I haven’t seen her since I was 11 since that was when she ran away. I remember it was the day before Easter Sunday and we had went to the park to play. She had on a red shirt. We spent the following day hunting for her instead of hunting for eggs. I can still see the pain and sorrow on my Papa’s face. I remember the adults acting surprised like this was the first time…it wasn’t. My Aunt made it all about her…typically. But no one asked why. All of us girls knew why. I remember admiring her courage and hoping she wouldn’t be found but also hating her for leaving us. She was the first, the first grandchild, the first girl. She was the ideal and the standard to which the rest of us were help up to. She was the prettiest and the most talented according to all the adults. The other 4 of us girls looked up to her.
Please note that being intelligent was not something my family valued so no comparison there. Although I recall over hearing a relative talking about me once. She said it was a good thing I appeared to be smart since they didn’t think I was going to be very good looking when I grew up. I was not a cute kid. I had way too many things not in my favor to be pretty. I was a very sick little girl and the massive amount of steroids I was given left me with “moon face” and the occasional chemotherapy sometimes left me bald headed. Add to that the fact that my blood usually wouldn’t clot so I was often very sedentary with a predisposition to be chubby anyways. Just for fun, when I did have hair my mother would often come home drunk and cut it all off or get mad at me at family events and cut if off there in front of everyone. All I ever wanted to be when I was little was pretty. The other girls were with the silky blonde hair and blue eyes. I had to be the oddball with the dark hair and green eyes. J was the prettiest of all. Everyone said so. She was even in beauty pageants. For little white trash girls in the south Beauty Pageants we a big deal and we used to love looking at the pictures. None of the rest of us had been in one and when I was small I use to think it was because we weren’t good enough. Now I realized that she was the first and by the time the rest of us came along there were far too many girls to be bothering with all that. Plus we were poor and out mother were drunk whores which is a fact of life I have made peace with.
With seven kids total and wild loose women for mothers we spend most of our childhood at our grandparent’s house while our moms were out drinking and on the prowl for their next husbands. We all grew very close, more like siblings instead of cousins. In fact after one of her previous escape attempts J came to live with us for awhile. I have many memories of those days.
I admired her
I envied her
I loved her
and I hated her
And we thought she was dead for 10 years…..
I’m talking “Network for missing and exploited children” face on the back of a milk carton; please bring the dental records to help ID the body….
I missed her
And I was angry…..
J resurfaced sometime around 2001. I don’t recall the exact time but I do remember Michel was in preaching school. Sonya called to tell me. My whole family was rejoicing and welcoming her back with open arms. Can you blame them? I believed the Granny actually brought up the story of the Prodigal son. But I was not in the place to be excited…. I was juggling a lot at the time between school, working 2 jobs and constantly traveling between Knoxville and Nashville .
I do remember thinking “Why Now”? You escaped, you got away….why willingly walk back into all this insanity? This was also about the time I decided to no longer pursue a relationship with my family.
Fast forward to this year… Thanks to modern technology and my slight addiction to face book we reconnected. We have chatted back and forth some since then. I was very glad to find out she was happy and had a great family. I wasn’t so sure I wanted more of a relationship though. I think it was a combination of her coming back from the dead (in my head) and my leeriness to allow anyone in my family to get too involved in my life. I was tired of having my heart broken and my feelings hurt. I am also done being manipulated. Please note that while I really like the woman I have become and my happiness is no longer connected to someone else’s opinion of me, being around people who are always criticizing is exhausting and overwhelming.
However I did want to have a connection to my past. I would love to have a healthy, loving relationship with someone I am actually related to. From our brief interactions on the internet I was curious to meet who she had become so I decided to give it a shot. When she texted me while I was in Tennessee I agreed to met her for dinner. What can I say curiosity killed the cat and I am an eternal optimist…
We met at a Mexican restaurant in Springfield where she lives. Michael wasn’t able to come with me as he had to met up with other friends (We were spread a bit thin on this trip). J brought her beautiful children and I was extremely relieved to see that they did not have red hair. That may seem random but my mother (And J’s also) were red heads. I have never been found of natural red hair. I am not referring to auburn I am talking carrot top. And before you call me a hypocrite since I have on many occasions sported red hair in various shades, I am referring to the kind only God in Heaven can Cursebestow you with. Granny use to taunt me and remind me that in our family it skips a generation and that unless I marry someone with very dark coloring my children will have red hair. Which is probably why I mostly dated the boys with the international flair and green cards they bought off the internet but I digress. Why did I run off and marry practically first white boy I’d dated? One with Scottish/Irish lineage at that….
J is a natural blonde and her kids didn’t end up with red hair so I have my fingers crossed my Italian genes will prevail with my own children. I know, they will probably be carrot tops….a girl can hope right?
Back to the subject at hand, we had a nice time. It was difficult to cram a lifetime of catching up in 2 hours but I think we made a nice start. I suspect we have a lot in common and we were able to relate well to one another as Christian women. I am looking forward to getting to know her better and I am hopeful.
I was also so freakin’ paranoid the whole time that Granny would show up…….