All it takes is a messy reunion to remind you why estranged family members are estranged.
In a popular post on the AITAH subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for telling her aunt the truth about her sister. She wrote:
I (26F) have been no contact with my sister Cheryl (24F) and mother (57F) since I turned 18. Our parents divorced when I was 14, when my mom's constant favoritism and enabling of Cheryl's abuse of me would not stop. My mom excused it as 'every parent has their favorite', but Cheryl took delight in stealing from me, destroying my things, and using me as a physical and emotional punching bag.
My dad, after years of trying to force family counseling, mental health evaluations, family interventions, but my mom kept enabling and at times felt like encouraging Cheryl. My dad treated divorce as a last ditch effort to try and save what was left of my childhood. My mom demanded full custody of Cheryl, in exchange for giving my dad 80/20 of me.
It was a rough battle, and he really did try to limit my custody time with mom. At 16, I was able to stay with my dad full time, and only see mom and Cheryl occasionally or at school. I suspect my mom wanted 80/20 of me to keep me around as Cheryl's punching bag, but Cheryl's power over me lessened the instant I had the power to just walk away.
It's funny; Cheryl seemed obsessed with taking from me. New phone? Taken. New tablet? Taken. Once we were both in high school and I lived with dad full time, she couldn't blatantly steal from me anymore. Didn't stop her from trying. I had one boyfriend in high school, who she tried to seduce, but failed. He told me immediately and was weirded out by it.
When I went to college, she e-stalked me and found out if I was dating anyone. Had two boyfriends in college, and she tried the same thing. Both times, they told me about Cheryl's attempts and shot her down. This part might need explanation. Cheryl is conventionally attractive, like from across the room, but since she was a teenager, she has a hygiene issue.
She showers once every two weeks and uses a combination of scented hand lotion and perfume that combines with her BO into a new mega stench versus covering up. My last college boyfriend remarked that when she put her hand on his shoulder, he was immediately grossed out by her nails.
When I was in college, Cheryl also attempted to get a credit card in my name, but I had a lock on my credit, courtesy of my father who feared my mom would try this first. So, needless to say, I'm not impressed with my sister or my mom. Last night, I got a weird call from my aunt Janice (64F), my mom's sister. I haven't talked to this woman in nearly a decade and suddenly she's calling me.
She asked me what I heard. I heard nothing so I was confused. She instantly was like "Good! Cheryl needs a place to stay. Your mom kicked her out." I was immediately like "Excuse me? No?" Janice then kept begging me to let Cheryl stay at my place, at least for a few days, for my mom to 'cool down'.
I told Janice that I haven't talked to Cheryl, my mom, or her in years, that you are all strangers to me, and last time we all talked you aren't my favorite people. Janice then kept saying "Family helps family" and "It's just for a few days, it'll be fine."
I finally blocked the number, but I did get a confused call from cousins confused that I cut my sister and mom off, as if it happened recently and not almost a decade ago. The cousins, from my mom's side, rarely talked to me, so they were just as confused as I was and wanted clarification. I'm debating on telling them the details, but I'm thinking of just telling them it's not their business.
But I can't help but think I should have handled the call with my aunt better. AITAH for how I told my aunt that I want nothing to do with my mom and sister?
NTA but I would state the story of the dynamic but not full on details unless it’s warranted. I had to do that with someone to show I do not want a relationship with an abuser. Your mom and sister have very much abused possibly more so with your mom. The psychological, emotional, verbal, and to an extent financial (due to your items) abuse.
I feel your mom and sister may have painted a false narrative of the relationship you have with them which can prolly cause problems. For me I rather give a callout to have myself heard for my mental sake and if someone wants to try to bulldoze that then I will go strict NC. My mom sucks as a person too and had my old neighbor pull the whole “she’s your only mother you’ll ever have!”
And I’m like sorry but I straight up told her no and explained what she did. Then she kindly shut up. My grandma tried to do the same but I told her I don’t want it be in the position where I was feeling depressed, trapped, and disrespected anymore I don’t want that. She finally got it.
I’m not trying to project here but sharing my experiences for you to have an idea what might happen. It may feel like a pity grab but it’s not. Some ppl are just very lucky and ignorantly blessed to never be in that situation so it’s hard to grasp that sort of situation happening.
I’ve learned a lot about my family drama at your age and learning to deal with that information puts me in a position who I can somewhat trust. There are some cousins I do not want to interact with once I learned more about them and very few I wanted to stay in contact. It’s also okay to say no to them too.
Little update: sent a simple message to the cousins that "We haven't talked in eight years, I haven't seen these people in eight years." and that seemed to have solved some of the questions from the cousins.
NTA. I would also, unlike others, suggest you give them at least the cliff notes. Your mother and father divorced because your sister was incredibly abusive to you and your mother not only condoned it but at times encouraged it. Your father took you away to save you basically.
Also say that your sister has repeatedly stalked on you online then approached your boyfriends to try to hit on them or get them to break up with you. This is why you want no contact with them, and you're telling them because due to her abuse and stalking, continued attempts to mess with your life that you would appreciate them just saying absolutely nothing about you with her or your mother.
If you see on social media that I got a boyfriend, or am going to be at a concert or somewhere specific, basically any news just please don't share it with mother/sister and anyone who would share that info with them.
You need to give them the cliff notes just so they realise you have a good reason to cut them out and keep any personal information away from them as your sister continues to use such information to try to hurt you.
NTA. Your aunt stuck her nose in where it didn't belong, so you cut it off. No harm no foul.
"Family helps family"
"So, you're gonna let her stay with you? Cool. We're done here."
Talked to two of my cousins over the phone and explained that I've been no contact with my mom and sister since I was 18 (still saw them both a handful of times, but never interacted with them directly). As suggested, gave cliffnotes version of what happened with my sister and mom that made me want to cut them both off. One cousin said "Figures" and the other said "Makes sense."
Aunt sent a message via Facebook messenger of "I had no idea it was that bad."(she did) and that she will leave me alone about it from now on. Overall, felt good starting my Friday, until noon today. My husband and I work from home, and we were both surprised when our Ring doorbell said we had someone buzzing the front door. Checked the camera and, yup, it's my sister Cheryl with two suitcases.
Went to the door and kept the screen door closed and locked, but opened the front door. I could still smell her weird BO through the screen door, so her hygiene has not improved since I last knew her. Cheryl tried to go "Hey sis!" all bubbly and like half my childhood didn't happen. I asked what she wanted. She said her and mom got in a fight, wouldn't say what the fight was about, and asked to stay with me.
I said "Absolutely not." and she started crying. Then she said she didn't want to tell me this, but her and my husband have been having a six month long affair, and that she couldn't hold it in anymore and that blood sticks with blood. It was that moment my husband rounded the corner and said "Say what?"
My sister looked confused and asked who the hell the man behind me was and I almost laughed because I realized what happened. Since Thanksgiving onward, my husband grew a (small)beard for the first time; most of his pics on social were him cleanly shaven, so of course Cheryl would have no idea what he looked like with the beard.
I said "That's my husband." and she tried to recover. It was sad and pathetic. simply said "Bye Cheryl" and closed the door. Ten minutes of her continually buzzing the ring and knocking, pleading, and she finally left. Called both cousins and asked what the hell this is all about, and why did my mom kick Cheryl, her favorite child, out. One cousin only knew bare bones, but the other knew details.
When my parents first divorced, there was a guy my mom brought in almost immediately who I call Scumbag Tom. Him showing up and the start of the divorce felt highly suspect, but he was always a weird guy that I never liked being around. I did ask my dad if he thought mom cheated on him with Tom and he said Tom was the least of his worries, and the lowest of his priorities when it came to the divorce.
Long story short, Cheryl slept with Tom, mom found out, kicked Cheryl out, and Tom stayed, swearing Cheryl tricked him somehow. Just Cheryl staying super classy and mom found the one thing she wouldn't tolerate Cheryl doing. God, I'm glad I cut these people out of my life.
I am deeply glad your father was able to drag you out that sewer you called a family.
And my word, it must be glorious for your mother to have gotten screwed over by "her favorite."
He put getting me out his top priority, over everything else.
Your mother is reaping what she has sown. Someone had to become your sister's punching bag. Open a bottle of wine and enjoy the shenanigans from afar. NTA.
NTA. Wow just wow! I'm glad you got away and cut contact. So Scumbag Tom slept with stinky butt Cheryl. ew ew ew ew! They both sound like disgusting people, hygienically and morally. But I can't believe your aunt wanted Cheryl to stay with you after knowing she slept with her sister's (your mother's) boyfriend?!?
Why didn't she take her in or was she afraid to find Cheryl in the wrong bed in her house. (or couldn't take the stench).
TOO FUNNY. NTA by any means! I'm sorry your childhood and now adulthood is filled with the drama of your clearly narcissistic and troubled sister. Its probably hard to laugh at how ridiculous and poetic it is in a way, but I hope you can move through the ridiculous unstable drama of if your mother and sister for good.
This is a strange and developing situation. Last 12 hours have been a roller coaster. I talked to my dad again today, had him visit, and told him what Cheryl had done and Dad sat down on the couch and started laughing and crying and shaking his head. I was really worried because I was afraid he was having a medical issue.
He finally caught his breath and told me 'the family secret'. During the divorce, my mom was apparently extremely vicious and even attempted to keep me full time(I wasn't told this). Mom went as far to even claim I was not my dad's child, and she knew who my father was and would use this to get full custody.
Dad was undeterred, even if I wasn't his child, he raised me and he wasn't going to leave me in hell because of that. Paternity tests were ordered for both me and Cheryl and I was dad's child. Cheryl was not. Cheryl, however, did match the person my mom brought to be sampled. Scumbag Tom. Dad was still going between chuckling and sobbing for a few minutes while telling me and my husband this.
Then there was silence, which felt like it went forever. I finally asked if Scumbag Tom knew. Dad just nodded. I asked him how he felt about Cheryl. He said "You can't just turn off being someone's dad. No matter how s#$tty they turn out" I had my husband take my dad to the guest bedroom after he said he needed to lay down a moment.
Around noon my phone started ringing. It was an unknown number, but I figured it was Cheryl. I picked up and yup, Cheryl. She was again begging for any sort of help. Stay with me, or money for a hotel, anything. I was tired, and I admit, I wanted to hurt her. So I told her. I told her who Scumbag Tom was to her. She was quiet, then begged me to tell her I was lying.
I just hung up. I told my husband and father what I did and my dad just started that weird sobbing chuckle again. My husband however said we should probably call my aunt and let her know what I just told Cheryl, in case Cheryl becomes unstable and at least someone would be alert for it.
I do feel bad that I dropped this on Cheryl as a way specifically to hurt her. I tried justifying this isn't even a tenth of the hurt she's given me, but hurting someone doesn't feel good the longer I sit with it.
Posting here in my profile for now. Don't know where this would belong, honestly. At everyone's advice, I did call my two cousins and we had a real conversation. Whoever said my mom and sister controlled the narrative with that side of the family was right.
According to my cousins, my dad was painted as lowlife cheater and I as a dropout dr*g addict that went man to man (literally only had four boyfriends my entire life). So, when my sister was kicked out, my aunt suggested she stay at my place. The cousins were confused, wasn't I a druggie that couch surfed and was unemployed?
Aunt apparently came up with a story that I speed ran adulthood in 6 months of getting clean, an online degree, a job, home and husband. Now, both cousins never really liked my mom or sister. They just figured that if trash called me trash, I must have been super trash. I did tell them the truth about Cheryl and Scumbag Tom, and both were disgusted with everyone involved.
They made sure that the family has been sufficiently warned. Now, the next part apparently happened late last night. And I'm getting this second hand. Cheryl apparently stopped back at mom's and the three of them got in a big argument. Things were broken and thrown against the wall and the cops were called.
Cops showed up, mom tried to get Cheryl kicked out but apparently, Cheryl's legal address is mom's house so the cops told her she can't be kicked out. Same with Scumbag Tom's legal address, so as long as no one is actually a$$aulted, the cops didn't care. I'm now making it a habit of putting all calls from unfamiliar numbers straight to voicemail. Got three from new numbers last night.
Two was mom. First her crying and pleading for her to apologize to me and begging me to understand. Second was her screaming and cursing to the point of it devolving into noise. The third call was Scumbag Tom. Started with him going "Hey kiddo..." deleted that one before it finished.
Going to take the ring doorbell footage, the past legal case of the credit card, the voicemails, the texts, and info from my cousins and get some legal orders in place now. It's all just trash. Trash trash trash.
“Hey kiddo…” stop!! Omg are you sure he’s not your father too? Your mom is psycho and got her Karma, your sister is going to need so much therapy if not she’s wow I can’t see her life getting any betters and well your moms lovely husband is a disgusting garbage can, I guess it makes sense they’re all three together.
If you get more messages keep them. They could be handy if legal action is needed. I'm not sure I'd recommend listening to them though.
No wonder Cheryl became "that". She had the absolute perfect pair of parents!
I mentioned on my profile that I cleared up the narrative about me to my cousins(mother and sister spun a tale that I was a hot mess; couldn't keep a job, slept around, did drugs, couch surfed). When my sister was kicked out, my aunt decided to suggest Cheryl stay with me, which made my cousins confused; wasn't I a hot mess?
Aunt then made up a story that I got my life together, got clean, a degree, career, house, and husband in six months time. Cousins were skeptical, but they thought that since my mom and sister were trash, if they called me trash, I must have been super trash so they always kept a distance away. That's since been cleared up. For the most part the cousins wanted to stay away from the epicenter of drama bombs.
The next part I heard in part from two of my cousins. Cheryl decided to head back home, and her and mom got into a big argument, and Scumbag Tom decided to jump in. Cops were called, everyone's addresses were verified, and the cops' attitude was "Since no one was a**aulted, no one is allowed to kick anyone out" and left. I've been getting calls from all family members now.
Mom, Cheryl and Scumbag Tom go straight to voicemail and I'm collecting as much of it as possible, and have been sending it to the police. My husband suggested we retain a lawyer to better handle this, which we will be doing in the next couple of days.
Aunt is acting very apologetic and keeps claiming she didn't know the ab*se was as intense as it was, and thought the problems I had with Cheryl was 'stupid sibling stuff.' But, she said we shouldn't cut mom and Cheryl out of our lives just yet. No one else on mom's side of the family is willing to lend any help or support, except for aunt.
I am, however, getting more calls from cousins, second cousins, and other members of mom's family wanting to reconnect now that they know the truth. Sort of not sure if I should even dedicate any time to them; they didn't lend my father or I any support during the divorce or afterwards.
Part of me understands that it's because my mom and sister spun a hell of a narrative, but at least according to my cousins her side of the family thought mom and Cheryl were trash anyways, but still associated with them.
I might reconnect more with my aunt's kids, the two cousins since they approached me when this whole mess started with confusion and asked for clarification, not outright trying to browbeat me into accepting my sister into my home.
My family is like this too. They spin stories about you and use game theory and reactive abuse to get you to react then say look she’s crazy . It’s awful. I’m just now learning to cut these people out thanks to my wonderful fiancé who doesn’t want to see me treated badly even by family.
I'm proud of you. Don't let their garbage infect your home. Your mum and Cheryl are more irrelevant to your life than ever before. I hope your dad is okay, poor guy probably needs a holiday. If there are people who you get iffy vibes from then listen to your gut. You've been through enough to last a lifetime. I'd avoid the aunt like the plague, you aren't your sister's keeper (or your mum's).
You and your husband may need to get a restraining order and stay out of all that out of control drama. They reap what they sow. You, husband , and dad should just sit back and watch their consequences for their own behavior. None of it involves you three. And I thought my family was a hot mess.
I'm glad their lives are imploding, they deserve the misery. Considering you haven't spoken to these people in almost a decade, I'd block your aunt again, along with everyone else, unless you keep a cousin as a source of any gossip. Might be better to just wash your hands of all of them. You don't need the drama and they certainly are nothing to you. Just a series of bad memories best left in the past.
Be open to relationships with that side of the family but I’d be really careful. If you have been happy without these people then you might want to keep it that way. You don’t know them and it’s not your fault but unfortunately you don’t know what they are like, what they may be capable of.
You know they are capable of turning their back on you when you were a child. Even if your dad had cheated what would that have to do with a child. If they thought she was trash they should have tried to be there or at least checked on you. I know she lied but damn most people would at least check on a child/teen.
Hopefully, this marks the end of this saga for OP and her husband.