Yearly family gathering - I don't wanna go
Maybe my problem is not really that big a problem in many peoples eyes, but nonetheless it sometimes really bothers me and it would be great with some input.
When I was younger and when my grandmother was still alive, there used to be a yearly gathering at her house, around the time of her birthday, where the entire family on my mothers side would be gathered from noon until late evening - eating and talking etc.
After my grandmother passed away about 15 years ago, the mentioned gathering didn´t take place for some years. But approximately 12 years ago some of my cousins made a suggestion, that the family should continue to make that yearly gathering of the family. For the last 11-12 years there has now been that yearly family gathering where the different members of the family "take turns" with arranging the gathering (it always takes place in the same rented place and normally food is ordered from a catering company).
Here comes the "problem":
I have to say - that the family on my mothers side mainly consists of people who have VERY strict / firm opinions about things and about how things should be and what people should do in life, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. It is extremely difficult to explain so it makes sense to people like you who haven´t met the family though.
On my mothers side of the family I have a total of 12 cousins. Except for one of my cousins, who lives not so far away from where I live, I don´t really have a lot of contact to the others. In general I have a good relation to probably 6-7 of the cousins. However the rest of them are the main "problem" here.
I won´t deny that I might be quite sensitive when people say certain things to me. However there has been more than one episode where some of the cousins have been very disrespectful towards me and have said things to me that hurt my feelings for a long time after the words were spoken.
I have a very good job now, but some years ago I was unemployed for about 6-7 months - and I really tried like a maniac to find a job, which was not easy. At one of the gatherings 2 of my cousins - in the most disrespectful way - said to me that I really had to do a bigger effort and that it was very bad for me going around without a job, basically insinuating that it was my own fault that I was unemployed and that I didn´t try hard enough. That really hurt my feelings, considering I was really trying hard, and considering the way they said it to me.
In addition I haven´t been in a relationship with a woman for quite some years now - and at each and every gathering I am asked by some of my cousins why I don´t have a girl, and it is always said to me with an extremely negative undertone and to provoke me. It is not in any way said with a "blink" in the eye or in good humor - the way it is said it is merely with disrespect.
Some years ago - due to personal reasons - I moved from another town, back to my parents home to live, even I am around my early 40s now. It was just more convenient for several reasons at that time, and I could help my parents when not at work. My parents have a very big farm with several buildings, so it´s not like I am in any way sleeping in the same bedroom with my parents :-) Nonetheless there isn´t a family gathering where I am not being provoked with the fact that I still live with my parents. Again, it is NOT being said in a humorous way.
When I get those disrespectful comments - of course I am "talking back" - but that does not change the fact that it hurts my feelings.
Some years ago I kinda made a decision that I didn´t want to be a part of the gatherings anymore. To me life if just too short to be treated that way - and a family gathering should be fun and laughther and nice talks, and not people making other people sad. (Fun fact is that one of the cousins that was a really big a**-hole towards me hasn´t been to any of the gatherings recently, because another cousin provoked him too and said some things to him that hurt him).
People on my mothers side of the family are now starting to ask my parents why I am never going to the gathering anymore. For the last couple of years, I have always given a "bad" excuse about not going, for example that I had to work etc., but I feel a growing interest from my family to know why I am not participating.
Before this story gets too long: What would you do in my place? I cannot really emphasize enough how much I hate those gatherings SO extremely much, but then again there are SOME of my cousins that I have an okay relation to. However I very often also feel "different" at those gatherings, because - except for me and also my sister (who is married) - everyone else has kids, so there is always a lot of kids talk, where I feel like an outsider. However the "kids thing" is not what is bothering me the most - it is the disrespectfulness of some of my cousins, and I don´t want to have anything to do with them.
I cannot really say that I have had some "big fights" with any of my disrespecful cousins, - but frankly spoken - they mean ABSOLUTELY nothing to me - and I don´t want to waste an entire day of my life being together with them, if all they can do is being disrespectful.
What would you do in my place? Just continue to say "NO" to the invitation? Talk to one of my closer cousins about my "problem"? I really don´t know what to do!
Everyone’s life has been turned upside down this past year and a half, so being unemployed and living back at home won’t be such an unusual story, will it?
The main thing is that you have a history of being uncomfortable in this setting, so don’t take part in it. Don’t complain, no need to explain.
However, do stay in contact with those you do have a bond with. Perhaps even hosting a “mini” reunion with just a small group or individually.
@SUSIEDQ - You´ve got some good points, i will do it the way you recommend :-)
Hi APE1972: You are correct that SUSIEDQ has some good points. I will offer the thought that the last year and half may have changed people, maybe even for the better. Family relations are important and it will be difficult if not impossible to avoid these people forever. At the risk of complicating your decision, perhaps you can afford giving this reunion another chance based on the years absence and everyone's time to reassess their own values. People do change. And you do have a good explanation for living at home and not having a current girl friend. If things haven't changed, your future decisions should be easier. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
@8TWENTY8 - Thanks for your comment. The gathering took place last week-end - and I decided not to go. Or....to be honest, I actually was asked with short notice by my boss if I could do some overtime at work in the weekend, so i chose that instead. My mother is also currently quite ill, so that made the decision not to participate even easier - that would just be too many things on my mind at the same time. I will consider to go next year though. The issue however is not only that some of the cousins are being a bit butthurt about the "living at home" and "no girlfriend" aspects, but I am just tired of the fact that some of my cousins ALWAYS have to turn our conversations into something negative or to demean me by their comments - whether it is deliberate or not.
I know there are probably challenges in all families, but since I was a teenager there has ALWAYS been conflicts between some of my mothers siblings. First brother X did not talk to sister Y and the next time we met it was Sister Y not talking to brother Z. I think there are just too many selfish people in that family, lacking respect towards others and having very firm meanings they don´t want to change. It is the total opposite on my fathers side of the family - where there are only nice people who don´t have all those conflicts.
My cousin (one of the "nice" ones") is getting married soon. I will probably go to the wedding, because it would be sad to loose the contact to him.
Thanks again for your input, it´s appreciated!
Thanks for the update. It appears you are logical regarding your decisions. Good luck.
It's nice when problems are solved. Good luck to you
Why don't you give up the meetings, but continue to associate with those cousins with whom you associate outside of these meetings?