Monday, November 26, 2007

Revenge is Mine

This is a cautionary tale. Don't piss off an adopted relative. You may need their help one of these days.

My adoption was practically a state secret. An older cousin told me he and the rest of the teenagers in the family were ORDERED never to discuss my adoption with outsiders (and to deny it if asked), amongst themselves and never, ever with me.

Hah!

They must have discussed it because somehow, the second cousins knew. They were just a little younger than me so I mostly hung out with them.

Well, several years ago, one of these second cousins asked for a hefty loan. At the time, we were on pretty good terms. But the first thing that popped into my head was a fight we had when we were young teens. She settled it by screaming, "And you don't even belong to this family! You're adopted. That's why you're so weird."

She may have called me a freak. I can't remember.

Still, I gave her the money. Like $700. Told her it was an early Xmas gift. We never discussed it again. Not that we talked much since then.

So a few weeks ago I get an email marked "URGENT! REPLY IMMEDIATELY!!!" in the subject line from the same cousin. Pleading for another hefty loan. It also included an apology for not being nicer to me, etc.

And I got to wondering. Did she mean the time she called me a weirdo or a freak or whatever? Or for not doing a better job keeping in contact with the un-family member who helped her out in her time of need?

I turned her down. Nicely, of course. With regrets and all that.

But the thing is, I don't really regret it.

Not all that long ago, when I was still in people pleasing mode, I might have said "yes" and resented the hell out of her. Or I would have felt guilty for saying no. Or I would have been uncertain and called my husband a hundred times asking for advice on how to handle this delicate situation.

This time, I took a trip down memory lane and, for the first time, noticed just how barren that lane actually was.

And you know what?

I spent a lot of time crafting a kind reply, without ever once referring to the original sum given without any expectation of repayment. And guess what? Nada. No acknowledgement of any sort. I'm family when she needs something. I'm un-family when I serve no purpose.

And you know what else?

I don't care. I mean, I'm slightly miffed, but I'm not hurting. I'm not devastated. Now that's progress.

17 Comments:

Blogger Andie D. said...

That IS progress Nina! Absolutely!

If she contacts you again, feel free to bring up the money, the fact that she treats you like shit unless she needs something, and the fact that you have no reason to ever let her or anyone else treat you like that. Ever again!

7:58 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Thanks for the support, Andie!

I just may follow your advice if she ever gets around to actually calling!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Nina, I have biologically-related family members who have been just like this relative of yours. The only difference is that they couldn't tell me that I was weird because I was adopted. I was just... weird. ;o)

Good for you about saying no, and also good for you on being generous that one time. Generosity is a good thing in a person, even if some ingrate doesn't appreciate it. I'm just glad your generosity wasn't wasted on this same scoundrel again. Some worthy person (you, for instance) could use that money for something else!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Celera said...

...what Eve said :). Making the loan was good for your karma, or whatever, regardless of how your cousin responded.

I can't believe someone would actually write a note saying "I'm sorry I haven't been nicer to you, and could I have some money." Perhaps the narcissism is genetic, and you are lucky to have missed out on that particular inheritance.

Also, there's a difference between saying "no" in a nice way because you can't bear to have people mad at you, and saying "no" in a nice way because you are mature enough to realize that there's no payoff in hurting people's feelings when you don't have to.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Possum said...

WOO HOO HOO!!
You go girl.
Now that IS major progress.
Love it. Thanks for sharing it.
Biggest hugs,
Poss. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

4:55 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Thank you Eve, Celera and Possum!

Money - having some, lacking it - can bring out the worst in people. Generosity is important and good for karma. But as my girls get older (now teens), any money spent is that much less going into into college funds. Funny. My cousin and I started off in the same financial boat: not having much. I think she sees that I have more (college/higher paying jobs, etc.) and somehow feels entitled, in a way I don't quite understand.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous stewie said...

AWESOME Nina, insert clapping smilies here!!! That is major progress. I'm really proud of you. Really really really. xoxoxoxo

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