As Wayne Dyer says, “Some people exude negative energy because of their lifestyle, friends and thinking habits. They could be sending it out all the time or just part of the time. To the degree that you are sensitive and porous, being around these people will actually make you sick.”
As I learned more and more about my mother’s childhood during WWII, it became clear to me that the “men” of the family always treated the women (my grandma, my mom and her sister) as inferiors. This is not by far an Italian “thing” per se, as the women in my father’s family were always treated with high respect, so my father grew up the stellar man that he is, adoring his women. Poor dad, his life has been surrounded by women! He had a mother, 2 sisters, a wife and 3 daughters. Honestly, if he didn’t grow up loving women, he had to learn QUICK!
My mom’s brother, however… oh dear. He learned this way of looking at things from my grandpa, who was the same way. I heard countless stories of his bravados, his superiority complex, his greed most of all. The stories of his greed and disrespect were quite sad, really.
I have to be honest, to this day, I don’t really know the man. I am just going by the stories told to me by my mom and my aunt (who was also my GodMother).
Because I didn’t grow up with the man and his family, I was never close to his children, except for the fact that he would send my mom all the used clothes of his daughter, just a few months older than me. So, not only I wore my older sister hand-me-downs, but my cousin’s as well. Fabulous. Actually I didn’t care when I was younger, except one of my friends (or so-called friend) used to tease me about it endlessly. “So, whose hand-me down you’re wearing today?”. Ugh.
At any rate… I will preface this by saying that the last time I saw my uncle, his wife or his children (a boy and a girl) was in 1978 when my grandpa died. My grandma had died the year before, and as he left the funeral he announced that “his whole family had died”. Nice diss to his sisters, right? Good God.
So… in the early 90s I decided to write my uncle a letter for Christmas. I wanted to say Hello. We are family, aren’t we? Because my letter came from the United States, it was noticed. I never know how my intentions of contacting anyone might be viewed good or bad. Because I moved to another country, there have been some relatives who thought badly of me (isn’t Italy good enough for you?), while some (the majority actually) think it’s mega-cool. However, it’s a fact that I am different, and it gets noticed. My mom told me he started coming around every now and again and even went to my sister’s wedding. Awww…. that’s nice. Let bygones be bygones. She did rely to me that he hadn’t changed a bit though, he was still his cocky self. Oh well.
When I went to Italy in 1998 with Nicky because I was nearing a nervous breakdown, I tried to call both my uncle and my cousin (the girl) to no avail a few times. No answering machine to leave a message either. My mom stated he started keeping his distance again for whatever reason. I was hoping they would come around knowing I was in Italy to see me and meet Nicky, but nobody called or showed up. A month before I left my aunt ran across my cousin, who told her how upset she was that I didn’t reach out to her since I’d been in Italy. According to my aunt, she wasn’t exactly nice about it, either. Fantastic. Didn’t they know the reason I was in Italy? I was nearing a nervous breakdown and she is only thinking of herself? WOW. So, once again, I tried to call her and her dad to no avail. No answer, no answering machine. Just before I left Italy I sent them both a letter, saying how I tried to call numerous times to no avail, how I wished they had tried to contact me since we rarely left home because of how sick Nicky was and how hard it was for me to go anywhere and do anything. Maybe next trip?
I got no reply to either letter, but according to my aunt, my cousin, for whatever reason, was royally pissed. Wait a minute, why was she pissed? She made no effort to contact me, isn’t a relationship of any kind a two-way-street? It’s that toxic ego thing that gets in the way I presume. Maybe I made her feel guilty and she didn’t like it. Whatever.
It’s important for me to note that everyone else in Italy that I wanted to see I saw, wether they contacted me or I contacted them. Friends, cousins, their children, even 2nd cousins. Every single one. I will forever be grateful for everyone’s kindness and compassion.
My mom told me that she never seen or heard from her brother or her nephew/niece ever again, and told me it was because of that letter I sent, even though, for one, it’s been nearly 20 years, and for two, she readily admits (because she read it) that it made no sense to her why or how they took it the wrong way. In the letter I was apologetic, talked about Nicky and his immense health issues etc. Don’t these people have hearts? Ugh. I suppose some relatives are a lost cause. It is what it is. I let it go. I mean, my uncle and neither of his children even went to my aunt’s funeral. Nuff said.
So, now we have Facebook. Life is too short to hold grudges, so when I saw that both my long-lost Italian cousins joined Facebook I requested friendship. One of them (the boy) accepted me, we briefly talked, then at one point he unceremoniously unfriended me for no reason. The other one (the girl) not only completely ignored my messages, but deleted my request. I was hurt, of course. I was the one waving the white flag and I was fired upon anyway. They want no truce to whatever fight we might possibly have (my mom and I still cannot figure what about). Upon further research, I found out that neither of them had friended any of our shared cousins or my sisters, nobody. Were they taught by their father that family is cancer or something? What the hell? I talked to my other cousins and they concurred, they have never had any contact with them, and they had no interest in having a relationship with anyone. Well, at least it isn’t personal. I am not the only one they completely ignore. They ignore any and all family members.
Oh well, I tried, didn’t I? I don’t hold grudges. If they ever message me I will for surely answer. I can’t help but feeling sad for them though. It’s apparent they were raised with a negative, toxic energy, so much so they have never once extended any kind word about my loss of Alex or Nicky’s health struggles. Never. Not even to my mom. And I know for a fact they are aware of both. I have no idea what their lives are like, and I would love to know, but they won’t let anyone in. Maybe it’s good they don’t contact me at this point, their negative energy might not do me much good. Chances are, they never will, and I think after a lot of soul searching, I am OK with that. I don’t need to worry about people who clearly don’t want any family in their life. Maybe it’s my Italian upbringing of “family” being important, that I somehow take this diss personally, even though I know I did nothing to cause this. It’s their loss, isn’t it?
Because of this, I feel extremely lucky that I have a relationship and contact with all my other cousins. I have several. I am even close to many of their children. I am not going to change. I will keep reaching out to family, any family I come across. I now have several 2nd and newly found 3rd cousins that I count as my priceless finds. Maybe it’s my love of genealogy that makes me this way, all I know is that’s just how it is. I truly enjoy the connections.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” ~Michael J. Fox