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The Demanding Cousin

Trixie

Well-Known Member
#1
I need to vent, and this going to be a long one. First thing, I’ve been feeling really “off” these last couple of weeks, physically as much as mentally. So much so, that I’ve been a little worried I might have caught COVID. It’s unlikely since I haven’t been around anyone (except the grocery store), but still a worry. My sleep schedule is all over the place. For the life of me, I can’t seem to keep any sort of routine whatsoever. Obviously, I'm up at 3:30 am. I stayed awake for 31 hours from Wednesday until Thursday evening, so that was at least part of my crankiness. My insomnia is at a critical level right now, but it’s worsened considerably over these last 7 months. Anyone else experiencing insomnia to this extreme?

Secondly and my main reason for this post, I have this cousin who is a few years older than me, and she’s relentless with phone calls and text messages. I’m talking several calls/texts per week at all hours of the day and night. If I do happen to answer, she’ll keep me on the phone for hours despite my numerous attempts to cut the conversation short. Believe me, I’ve tried everything from telling her I need to use the restroom to flat out saying, “I need to get off the phone, now,” yet she’ll just keep right on talking. She’s far more extroverted than I am and really likes to talk. In fact, most of the time the phone conversations are pretty much one-sided since I can hardly get a word in edgewise. She overwhelms me, to say the least.

At the same time, I understand that she is terribly isolated and lonely. She has some issues, a learning disability and undiagnosed mental health issues. If I had to venture a guess, I would say she’s on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum and most likely bipolar given her incredible mood swings that I’ve witnessed my whole life, even as kids. She’s highly sensitive and gets her feelings hurt easily. I can relate to that because I’m the same way.

Because she calls and texts so frequently, I attempted to set a boundary by firmly, but gently, telling her I needed some space. That worked briefly. I didn’t hear from her for about a week, maybe two, and then she went back to calling as frequently as before. Since the direct approach didn’t work as well as I had hoped, I decided I would only answer her calls once per week. Even after several months of doing it that way, she still hasn’t lessened her attempts to reach me.

Can I just say, a ringing phone is the quickest way to completely derail my focus which is why this is such an issue. A lot of the time (especially at bedtime when I’m already struggling so badly with insomnia), I have to turn my phone off to get some peace and quiet.

However, a week ago Thursday, I gave my cousin an hour and a half on the phone; and again, on Sunday I gave her another hour and a half on the phone. It was mostly just her usual venting and griping about her daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend. From Sunday until this past Thursday night, she called another 6 times. I ignored/rejected those because I’ve just been busy trying to catch up on stuff I hadn’t felt like doing these past couple of weeks and frankly, I just wasn't in the mood to talk.

Thursday night, I was right at the end of a movie (Kodachrome – good movie, btw, real tear-jerker if you need a good cry) when she texted, asking how I was doing. Since I had already ignored so many of her calls, I texted back, “Doing okay. Watching a movie at the moment,” hoping she would take the hint. Nope. She called seconds later. I was pretty annoyed but did my best to stay calm.

Here’s the other thing. After my mom passed away, I digitized a lot of the family photographs. I made the mistake of telling the cousin this, and now she keeps asking for particular photos over and over and over again. I’ve sent these photos to her at least a half dozen times if not more. She keeps deleting them or breaking her phone and losing them. Just this past Sunday when I talked to her, she asked for 2 of those photos again. This time I told her not to delete the Facebook message so that they would be there in case she lost them again. I don’t keep photos on my phone. They’re backed up on a separate hard drive which takes time for me to access and transfer to my phone and then send every time she asks for them. Short version, it’s a pain in the ass.

So, when she called Thursday night, it was to ask for photos again because she broke yet another phone. I can’t tell you how many phones she’s gone through in just this last year. It’s a lot. And every time she breaks a phone, she has to start a new Facebook profile because she can’t remember her login information despite me telling her repeatedly to write it down somewhere safe.

Needless to say, I was aggravated; but I kept my temper in check. I also did not tell her I would send those photos again. I took a deep breath, sighed, and attempted to explain to her that I’m staying off of Facebook right now because it’s too depressing and stressing me out with the upcoming election. Thankfully, she only kept me on the phone for 11 minutes that time. She ended with something to the effect of, “Just whenever you get the time, text me those photos again,” still assuming I would do it.

After we got off the phone, I finished the last 5-10 minutes of the movie and went to bed early, by 9:45 pm. I heard the text message from the cousin at 10:22 pm, got up, came out to the living room, turned off my phone and went back to bed. It stayed off most of the day Friday, too. When I turned it back on, there were already two messages from her. I ignored them.

Then those last 3 messages….

Demanding Cousin.jpg
(Edited to remove real names)

Ya’ll, I don’t even know how to respond to that or if I even should. Am I wrong for feeling relieved, hoping she won’t call or text again? Am I the asshole for not responding to her texts? I mean, I really don’t know how to explain to this woman how badly her constant texting, phone calls, and demands for photos overwhelms me. For now, I have her blocked. I don’t know if that’s the best course of action, but I’m not going to put up with verbal abuse. I had enough of that with the ex. Enough is enough.
 

WildCherry

Owner Emeritus
#2
As I first started reading your post, my initial thought was that maybe you should block her. At the beginning she sounded similar to a childhood friend I have, but as I kept reading, I realized if my friend were exactly like your cousin, I would probably mute her calls and texts, or block her completely. Some people don't want to change, and honestly, that's not your problem. You've done the best you can.
 

Trixie

Well-Known Member
#3
As I first started reading your post, my initial thought was that maybe you should block her. At the beginning she sounded similar to a childhood friend I have, but as I kept reading, I realized if my friend were exactly like your cousin, I would probably mute her calls and texts, or block her completely. Some people don't want to change, and honestly, that's not your problem. You've done the best you can.
Thanks for that.
 

DrownedFishOnFire

Back into the wild where I belong. Out of your way
Staff Alumni
SF Supporter
#6
Just ghost her for a bit. Wait it out @Trixie you are a saint for putting up with this person. Next time you have phone call convo with her when you feel like you got to go say hey sorry to cut it short I gotta go. Love ya bye bye and you hang up the phone. Not hanging up just gives her permission to continue on a tangent

Good Luck with this Cousin.
 

Trixie

Well-Known Member
#7
Just ghost her for a bit. Wait it out @Trixie you are a saint for putting up with this person. Next time you have phone call convo with her when you feel like you got to go say hey sorry to cut it short I gotta go. Love ya bye bye and you hang up the phone. Not hanging up just gives her permission to continue on a tangent

Good Luck with this Cousin.
I finally did respond to her message. My message to her was possibly harsh, but I felt I needed to stand up for myself and call her out on her behavior. Whether or not she got my message, I don't know. She may have very well blocked me, too. In my message to her, though, I told her I had her calls and texts blocked and that she will remain blocked for the next month, a time-out basically -- for me and her. If we ever do speak on the phone again, I will most certainly use the method you've described here. Thanks for that.
 

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