My uncle suffered from severe alcoholism, which I assume was the underlying cause of the divorce. Things got very messy: death threats from my ex-aunt’s new boyfriend; kidnapping; physical altercations, etc. After the dust settled, things went south for my uncle, who lost all of his jobs and his house because he couldn’t stop drinking. My cousins moved out of state to live with their mother. He eventually drank himself to death. I haven’t seen any of them since his funeral five years ago.
Now, Annie is getting married! I couldn’t be happier for her, and I am so excited to see all of my cousins and catch up with them. I miss them so much. However, I am not looking forward to seeing her mom, and that’s where things get awkward.
My ex-aunt has tried to friend me on Facebook several times and also sends me messages to the tune of “I would love to see you some time.” Not only have I not seen this woman since I was a child, but my last memories of her were not very rosy. I don’t mean to be cold, but I do not consider her family and I am not interested in having any kind of relationship with her. I was planning on being cordial and nice during the wedding, but the frequency and content of her Facebook messages (none of which I respond to) have made me feel like she might keep pushing some kind of reconnection. However, I understand that the wedding is about Annie, so I wouldn’t want to seem like I was disrespecting her mom.
The invites haven’t been sent out yet. Should I just RSVP “no” to avoid any chance of upsetting Annie and her family? Should I lie and say “Sure, I’ll visit one day” with no intention of ever doing so? — Potentially Awkward
RSVPing “no” to an invite to avoid upsetting Annie would do just the opposite, don’t you think? You said you haven’t seen that part of the family in years and you’re excited to see your cousins and catch up with them (in a much happier situation than at their father’s funeral, the last time you saw them). Don’t let your ex-aunt’s weirdness or what may very well be her own awkward attempt at trying to avoid a painful run-in at the wedding deter you from going.
If you’re sick of the Facebook stalking, block your aunt. Or, friend her just to shut her up and then hide her on your newsfeed. This really doesn’t have to be a big deal. I get that there’s a long history of STUFF here with your family and that your childhood memories of your ex-aunt aren’t the best, but if you can let the benefit of distance be your friend, I think you’ll find that an interaction at the wedding can be brief and cordial without opening old wounds. A polite “Good to see you” and an air kiss could go a long way. And if it seems this woman won’t just let it go and keeps pushing a relationship on you — as much of a relationship as you can have catching up at one wedding — keep excusing yourself to fill your glass or powder your nose or go say “hi” to Cousin Gertrude over there.
Honestly, this is one of those things you’ll regret if you don’t do. Go to the wedding. Celebrate a happy occasion in the lives of people who have experienced their fair share of unhappy occasions. Catch up with people you miss. Don’t let a very human and flawed woman who spent years raising a family with a severe alcoholic and who likely had burdens and demons you can’t imagine keep you from such a happy event. Life’s too short for that.
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