Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dear Long Lost Family Member: I'm Not Your Piggy Bank

Dear Long Lost Family Member,

After nearly 30 years, we recently reconnected via Facebook. I remember the last time I saw you and your family - when you traveled over 700 miles to visit us. We played Nintendo, chatted, read stories, and had a great time. It was fun to hang with cousins that I never saw, and I have fabulous memories of that short week. But that week was the extent of our relationship. We were never able to see each other again, and I never forgot you. In fact, I kept the pictures that Mom took of that week in a storage bin in my closet.

So when I received a message from you that you were relocating to my city after a "soul-searching journey" to various countries, I admit that I was excited. I have few friends or family in my area, so I was anticipating visiting and reconnecting with you. I followed your journey and kept in contact as you made your way to my side of the world.

Then your messages took a new turn. "I don't have enough money to complete my journey... any money you could lend would be appreciated and considered a loan," and "Could I call on you if I need a place to stay?" During a layover at the airport, you said that you would be in my area within 24 hours and again asked if you could stay with me until you got on your feet. I told you that I would love to see you, but I never agreed to give you money or a place to stay. In response, you never accepted my offer of friendship. Instead, you arrived in town, immediately found a place to stay with a "new friend," and I have heard nothing from you since. Fucking crickets.

I hate to tell you, dear family member, but you are not the first one in our family to pull this shit.  You come from a LONG line of "fun" people that come around only when money or favors are needed. Mom had to kick out another cousin, whose "temporary" visit turned into a 3-month hiatus. And this cousin left her baby in Mom's care while she hit the bars every night. Another time, an aunt (and her two children) asked to stay with us while she attempted to leave her abusive, polygamist husband. My nieces (all with multiple children with baby daddies who have been evicted, have multiple other children with numerous women, have unpaid child support orders, etc.) have begged me for money, baby supplies, and places to stay when they found themselves unable to pay their expenses. My sister constantly asks me to send her my old clothes because she can't afford to buy this shit herself. She is about to be booted from our aunt's house where she has been couch-surfing free of charge for 2 months.

Let me fill you in on what I HAVE been doing the past 30 years. At the age of 19, I moved 1,800 miles from home and found a way to make it on my own. I have lived a fabulous life that included college, a great career, travel, and the means to pay ALL of my expenses without having to beg anyone to help me. Trust me, I moved away for a reason. It's so fucking nice to not have family members show up at my door, penniless and without any plans, needing money, or a place to live because of their shitty life decisions. As much as I love my family, I distanced myself and created a shell around myself in order to make my own way in the world. And I'm not about to change now.

Family isn't about blood for me - it's about mutually beneficial relationships with people who aren't going to drop me as soon as they realize that I'm not going to support their poorly-financed "soul-searching journeys." I let my guard down with you in hopes that we could build a relationship, but you burned me. I think everyone can agree that we ALL deserve better than feeling used and unimportant. Fuck that noise.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hardened shell to don again while I carry on with my fabulous life.

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