The town that I’m about to move to isn’t my hometown. I love my hometown and would be thrilled beyond measure to move back to it. It’s a really nice place. But my parents no longer live there (my dad cheated on my mom with so many women there it would be awkward for my parents to live there now that he’s reformed), and my husband has never been able to find work there, or even within commuting distance of there, even though he has tried. While I did get bullied in my hometown, mostly in junior high, my bullies have since found me on Facebook and apologized to me. Not so for the people who hurt me in the town I’m moving to.
My hometown is a four-hour drive away from this town I’m moving to.
The town I’m moving to is a smaller town where my mom decided to move us to around the time I turned 16. One of her brothers and his wife live there, which is why she chose it. It’s the town I couldn’t wait to move away from when I was 18, and the town I moved back to after I could no longer make it financially on my own when I was 20. Moving back there at age 20 felt like death. It kind of feels that way now. This will be the third time in my life I will be moving there, even though I’ve never wanted to live there even once.
I do have one friend there, thank goodness. I met her at church when I was 27. She’s the friend who inspired me to start this blog. I am really looking forward to seeing her again. Another friend of mine, the one who visited me this summer, is also from this town but no longer lives there. She doesn’t like it either and says she’ll never live there again. People were not nice to her there. But she does visit family there from time to time and that means I will get to see her more often than I currently do. We have already talked about seeing each other when she visits for Thanksgiving. So those are the two bright spots in all of this. I’m grateful that there are bright spots. It truly would be unbearable otherwise.
One of the people I’m most worried about dealing with there is my aunt. My aunt has the strongest, most dominating personality of anyone I’ve ever met. She is very negative and critical and she lies and schemes. She is nosy and meddlesome and seems to think it’s her right to know every little thing about other people’s lives. She’s extremely ignorant and uneducated (whether formal education or otherwise), yet is the most opinionated person I know. She’s also really into alternative medicine (but in the most ignorant and unskilled way imaginable), and has been known to walk up to me and start slathering goop onto my skin without my permission (I have eczema, psoriasis, and occasional bouts of hives) and every time, my condition has gotten worse instead of better.
All of these things make her an extremely difficult person for me to deal with.
I haven’t seen her since 2011. When I saw her then, one of the first things she said to me was, “Which route did you take to get here?” When I told her, she told me that was the wrong route, and another route would have been faster. Then she ordered my uncle to get a map so she could show me the other route. I was already well aware of the other route, and she was wrong, it was not faster. (According to Google maps, her route is 15 minutes slower.) Even if it had been faster, so what? Maybe I just like the route I took better. That is my prerogative. I don’t understand why she makes an issue out of every little thing. Even so, I didn’t argue with her or defend myself because it was just too much hassle (you have to pick your battles, right?) and because I don’t think well in overstimulating moments like that. She’s so overbearing I’m like a deer caught in the headlights when I’m with her. My point here is that even something as innocuous as which route I took is judged and criticized by her. Imagine what she does with the bigger issues.
When I was living with my mom in my twenties, she greatly disapproved. She thinks adults should be independent. For what it’s worth, I actually agree with her on that; I just haven’t been able to consistently make it happen. Her harassing me about it is not helpful.
It’s going to be so much worse now that I’m in my forties.
This woman is not an emotionally safe person for me to be around. Not only because of her disapproval and criticism, but because of her schemes. When I was in my twenties and didn’t have a job, she assumed I just wasn’t trying hard enough and was very critical of me. Then one day, she told me, “I have a new job managing a restaurant. I’ll give you a job. Come there first thing next Monday morning ready to work.” I said okay. But as the day approached I started getting an odd, prickly feeling about the whole thing. So I phoned the restaurant and asked for my aunt by name. I was told I must have the wrong number and there was no one there by that name. I explained that it was the manager I was wanting to speak to because she had offered me a job there. I was told, “I am the manager, that is not my name, and I am not hiring right now.”
Needless to say, I did not show up on Monday as my aunt had instructed me. The next time I saw her, I mentioned the apparent misunderstanding. She admitted she’d lied about being the manager there. She said she’d done it to “give me the push I needed.” She said if I had shown up at that restaurant Monday morning ready to work, they would have been so impressed by my initiative that they would have hired me on the spot. She is utterly delusional. Maybe that’s how people got jobs in her day but that is no longer the case. Can you imagine how humiliated I would have been if I’d shown up there? I was already feeling humiliated just from the phone call I’d made.
She has not changed. She just recently got my mom involved in a scheme. She told my mom that while visiting another town she’d run into an old childhood friend of my mom’s who wanted to see her. She offered to take my mom to visit this person. When my aunt and my mom arrived, this old friend had no idea who my mom was. She hadn’t been saying she wanted to see her. She had no clue. I can’t imagine what my aunt’s motive was, but something was fishy about the whole situation.
Ever since I got married almost 12 years ago I have managed to shield my husband from her. Especially because he’s a physicist and she thinks science is from the devil. She and my uncle (he’s not as bad as her in other ways, but he is with this kind of thing) once told me that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is evil because it states that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Say what?! I’m pretty sure they meant the philosophical concept of Relativism, which has absolutely nothing to do with Einstein, his theories, physics, or science (whether or not it’s evil is a whole other matter, but we should at least be clear on what we’re talking about before we get to that). But they were convinced they were correct and that this means physicists are doing the devil’s work.
I do not want them to meet. My husband does not need to be subjected to that kind of thing. But my aunt has it in her craw that she hasn’t met him yet. She writes in the Christmas cards she sends me, “When am I going to meet your husband?” She has meeting him on her agenda and the only thing preventing that from happening thus far has been a lack of proximity.
I know that once I’m living with my parents in that town again, I will not be able to avoid my aunt forever. But I was hoping to at least get settled and get my bearings before having to deal with her. Unfortunately, a well-meaning person who knows we’re moving back there and doesn’t realize we want to keep it on the down low for the time being mentioned it to my mom when my aunt was standing right there. So she knows. And I fully expect her to be a one-woman welcoming committee. That’s going to be a lot to deal with when I’m already stressed and freaked out by the whole thing.
I don’t hate my aunt. I wish her well. She had a rough upbringing and there are reasons she is the way she is. I get that. But I have a hard enough time dealing with ordinary people, and she is… extraordinary. The combination of her personality and my social and sensory difficulties is not a good thing for me. I seriously consider her dangerous to my well-being.
It’s possible to not hate someone and yet still recognize that they are not good for you.