Anxiety returns…

It was the weekend of my grandmother’s 90th birthday party and I was so not looking forward to it. I really didn’t feel welcomed by my family. I was also really worried about my mom who’s pain seemed to be getting worse. My brother and Satan had volunteered to bring her to and from the party which I was fine with seeing that I didn’t plan on staying that long. They hadn’t been by her house except for one time to visit since she had gotten out of the hospital in August. Another thing that I forgot to mention is that Satan happens to share a birthday with my grandmother. I had no desire to celebrate her birthday. 
For ten years of my life I lived with terrible anxiety. To put this in perspective for everyone, I always thought I had the perfect family. Unlike most kids, I actually used to really look forward to going to family functions. I loved seeing my cousins. They weren’t just cousins to me, it was like having other siblings. At times I actually preferred hanging out with my cousins over my friends. My family was cool. My aunts and uncles liked to party. There was no stuffy, awkward dinners, it was every man for themselves, if you couldn’t find a seat, you stood up like a horse and ate. All the food was so good. Each aunt would make a dish and bring it over. They would be drinking wine and dancing to Madonna and Prince till all hours of the night. While the uncle’s sat there and talked “guy” stuff with one another. There was so much laughter and you can always hear the distinct laughs of the two in-law aunt’s who were married to my mom’s brothers. There was never a dull moment. We enjoyed it and never took it for granted. Every time I’d introduce a friend or boyfriend to my family they would tell me that they wished they had a family like mine. It was an amazing thing. I realize now that the closeness of my family is actually the exception, not the norm. 
We had the best times but all that ended the day my cousin decided to dip his proverbial “pen” in the family “ink”. When he molested my other cousin, he ruined everything for everyone. From that day forward the one thing I truly enjoyed and looked forward to became one of my biggest dreads. From then on I hated when holidays and birthdays rolled around. When I pulled up to family parties I would circle around the block a few times before actually parking and going in because I was having such bad anxiety and felt like my heart was going to pound out of my chest. My cousin, the victim, lived only two blocks away from Aunt B and after everything happened No one even wanted to have the parties at their house because no one wanted to be that person to tell Aunt B her son couldn’t come. For the most part, after everything came out, my Aunt Bea was the one who hosted all of the family parties and the perpetrator was her son, and so to the victims of his crime, it looked as if we were choosing sides……his side, but that’s not how it was. Everyone would ignore him at the parties and he would sort of keep to himself and only talk to the few sympathizers he had. 
Looking back now, I am so sorry I put myself through all of that stress. I always felt torn between doing what was right and respecting my mom and Grandmother. Aunt Bea gave her a kidney. She saved her life. She gave me back my mother and it’s a gift I can never thank her enough for and so when push came to shove, I felt like I had no choice but to support her. I realize now that I was selfish and insecure. I abandoned my cousin who was the victim, just like everyone else did. I was no different. I just couldn’t give up my family. While I stuck up for her and her mother who were vilified by my Aunt Bea and Aunt Debbie, and got into disputes with almost everyone in my family, I was being a hypocrite. This poor girl lost EVERYONE. She lost her whole entire family and her innocent younger sister also paid the price. I am ashamed. I should’ve stood my ground back then. I put myself through hell for no good reason. It is probably one of the only regrets I have in life till this day. I should’ve been there for her. I wasn’t and I am so sorry. 
I had finally just started to get over my anxiety. I wouldn’t talk to my cousin. The most I would do is say hi and bye. A few times I got stuck in awkward conversations but it was like no matter where I went, that big purple elephant was sitting in the corner of the room. I had to forgive him because I refused to let what he did, dictate the rest of my life. He was dating a girl named Lori* who was way out of his league and at one party her and I struck up a conversation and we really hit it off. From then on we became friendly and I was finally starting to feel like I could move past what he did and allow him a second chance. I thought maybe he changed. Honestly, it was my husband who kind of made me think differently. He told me that everyone deserves a second chance and so I tried to be a little open minded to that concept. That was until he broke up with the girlfriend. 
I’m not sure how but we ended up on the phone one day and he started telling me everything that was going on, how she just upped and left one day and didn’t come back for a few days and when she did, she told him it was over and she started looking for a new place to live. He started calling and texting me and even though I was really uncomfortable about it, I felt kind of sorry for him. I somehow got sucked into being his shoulder to cry on. He’s a kind of pathetic person. Mentally he is like a 16 year old boy trapped inside the body of a 39 year old man and you almost pity him. I almost can’t blame him for being so fucked up. He is and always was the quintessential black sheep of his immediate family. His sister, Gianna was the golden child, in fact I think gold isn’t even a precious enough medal. She was platinum in the eyes of my Aunt B and uncle Bob. Platinum with a 10k diamond on top. She could do no wrong in her parents eyes. I always compared their relationship to Lisa and Bart Simpson. Whenever things would go wrong in her life he’d sit back and laugh with this big sadistic grin on his face. He especially found it amusing when he found out her husband, Fred was doing crystal meth behind her back….yeah that happened. 
Gianna’s husband Fred is the one who set him up with his girlfriend. They used to be “friends”. After the breakup Lori left and got her own apartment. One day Fred showed up at her apartment. He was on his way to work and decided to do some crystal meth and was bugging out. Yes, I said he was on his way to work! Anyway he showed up at Lori’s apartment and Lori made him call Gianna and confess. Well once Benny (the Molester) caught wind of it, he pounced on the opportunity to share all the dirt he had on Fred in an attempt to ruin his and Gianna’s marriage. Fred made her look like such a fool. He was always shit talking behind her back and he was a huge coke head. One time he grabbed my ass in a way that was not cool. It made me really uncomfortable. I told Benny about it but never told Gianna because I had enough of my own problems going on at the time. I didn’t want to get involved in their messy shit. Besides she’s the type of girl who would make some excuse and downplay it like it wasn’t a big deal. Anyway, Benny took it upon himself to tell Gianna and so he called me and told me the whole story. I was kind of upset because I had enough issues with them. 
A few weeks later Benny called me all in a huff. It was right after Xmas (2015) and he told me how Lori and him were texting back and forth, wishing one another happy holidays and everything was cool until he made a stupid comment to her and then suddenly she blew up and told him he was a sick child molester and she knew his secret. Throughout their whole relationship we wondered if she knew. A lot of my cousins live in the same town and it’s a small gossipy town and none of us could figure out how she didn’t know what he did to our cousin. Obviously she knew now and Benny was blaming Fred for telling her. I thought it was Fred too. I couldn’t think of anyone else who would’ve told her even though I wished I had because I really thought she was a good girl and deserved better.  
While I’m on the phone with Benny and he’s telling me this story, I could tell he had been drinking a little bit and he started to get angry as he was telling me the story. I asked him how he responded to her saying those words and he started telling me (as if I didn’t know the truth) that he told her that no one in our family believed the victim and we all know it didn’t happen and we support him 100% and our uncle, (the victim’s father) is a piece of shit who stole $25,000 from his parents and never paid it back….etc, etc. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I don’t know if he was actually trying to convince me that, that was the real story or himself, because I wasn’t believing it. I was caught so off guard by that response I just sat there in silence and listened as he went on this whole fabricated tirade. 
That was the last time I talked to Benny. I just couldn’t after that. How dare he lie. How dare he call my uncle who’s daughter was victimized in one of the worst ways possible, a piece of shit. I realized that all those times I showed up at the parties, I was doing him a disservice. I was helping him, my Aunt Bea and Uncle Bob live in their delusion that their son was innocent. I felt that anger just like I felt when my cousin first told me what happened to her. I felt like he was victimizing my cousin all over again. Right then and there I realized that I can no longer support their shit show. I haven’t gone to any events at my Aunt Bea’s house since.
It ended up, it wasn’t Fred who told Lori. Not even close. I found out the next day that it was my oldest cousin Nikki. It ends up that Nikki who runs a direct marketing business for a skin care line , had struck up friendship with Lori. Lori was going to rep the line too and so they started getting friendly. After Lori had broken up with Benny, she went to Nikki’s house and they sat outside on her front steps and talked till late into the night. Lori was explaining all the fucked up shit Benny had done and said about our family and she started talking about my Uncle and why she never met them. Benny had told her the very same story he tried to sell me. That my uncle was a piece of shit and he stole money from his parents. The $25,000 he’s talking about is the money his parents had to spend on a lawyer to keep his ass out of jail and off the sex offender registry. When Nikki heard all the lies he had told she just couldn’t take it. She got angry, just as I did when I heard it and she felt as if she had no choice but to stick up for the victims and tell Lori the truth. Some may say it wasn’t her place and maybe it wasn’t but why should she let someone think one family member is a piece of shit when the real piece of shit is Benny? Why is Benny more family than my uncle or the victim? He doesn’t deserve our respect. I admire her for telling Lori but more so than that, I admire that she fessed up and took responsibility not only to Benny but to my Aunt Bea and Uncle Bob too. Nikki had been on her own crazy journey, just like me, over the past year. When the story first came out, Nikki was part of the Lynch mob against the victim’s mother. She wrote her a nasty letter but after hearing the lies that Benny had told Lori, she came into her own realization that she too had abandoned the victim and her family. She wanted to right her wrong and she started off by being honest with herself. I admire her tremendously for what she’s done and how honest she’s been. It takes balls to admit you were wrong and to try to fix those things and this girl, she has balls of steel. 
Walking into my grandmas 90th birthday party, I felt like I was looking at my family through a completely new set of eyes. I felt that same anxiety again. I hadn’t spoken to Aunt Bea, Aunt Debbie, my “sister” Tina, Gianna or any of them in over 5 months. I felt like Tupac, it was me against the world….well me and my husband against the world. We said our awkward hellos to everyone and scoped the room to find my mom who was sitting at a table in the back corner with two of her old girlfriends from when she was a kid. Satan and my brother were sitting at the table with all my cousins. I look across the room to see her and uncle Bob chatting it up. So weird. She had no connection with anyone else in my family except him and Aunt Bea. I didn’t even go over to him and say hello. 
I have to mention that she was dressed in this little hot pink jumper thing that looked like it was 2 sizes too small on her. Her ass cheeks were practically hanging out. On the top you can see at least four inches of cleavage hanging out. That’s what she chose to wear to a 90th birthday party. The authority on fashion who deemed my dress in appropriate for her wedding walking around like a cheap looking hooker. It figures. She is the biggest hypocrite in the world. I have no use for her. I didn’t wish her a happy birthday or even greet her hello. Oddly enough we spent most of the party talking to and hanging out with my brother as she hung around my uncle Bob. My cousin Nikki was waving me over to sit at their table but I told her I was going to sit with my mom who was basically sitting alone. 
Benny didn’t come to this party. My uncle and his new wife came instead. It was nice to see him and at some point in time I saw them inside and we got into a conversation about how fucked up our family was. I confessed to him that I was basically on the outs and had been keeping to myself. My heart went out to him. I don’t even know how he could be so forgiving to his sisters & and even hate to say it but I include my own mother in that. They abandoned him and made it clear that they supported Bea over him. Because he has continued to have a relationship with them, his own daughters will not talk to him. My cousin who was victimized even went so far as to legally changing her last name to her mother’s maiden name because she doesn’t want to bear the same name as my family. That’s pretty drastic but I cannot say I blame her. I wouldn’t want to share a last name with a bunch of people who turned their backs on me for no good reason. 
I made it through the party by way of the green glass bottle filled with my favorite alcoholic beverage, Heineken. The stress and anxiety I felt about the party was the least of my problems. The stress and an anxiety I was about to experience in the next 2 months of my life were going to make that seem like a walk on the park.

(To be continued in my next post)

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