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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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This is about a problem with cousin Doug from my deceased husbands

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This is about a problem with cousin Doug from my deceased husband's side of the family. He has been trying for several years to push reunions with my deceased husband's daughters and cousins; my son and I are not interested. Recently things got very bad, when he emailed me and sister-in-law Brenda: to inform us at the very last minute about a family reunion. I was on jury duty and didn't go. He complained to Brenda that I didn't go; I emailed him and said hey I couldn't go, and I'm tired of you complaining about me. He emailed back saying "you make too many f&*ing excuses" and "f*&k you." Brenda called me to say he has PTSD and is in a lot of pain, I said that's no excuse and she agreed with me. I have nothing more to say to Doug: what is your opinion? thxm chh
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

You have no obligation to attend family reunions if you do not want to. Especially if you were not close to the family or you feel it is too painful to go. It sounds like Doug might have some agenda for getting you to attend, however. He seems to be struggling to understand why you will not go. It could be that he feels family reunions are important and he is assuming you feel the same. But that does not give him an excuse to curse at you and to be mean to you if you feel you do not want to go.

It might help to explain to Doug or your sister in law why you do not want to go, if that is ok for you to do. If it is for personal reasons, however, then you might just want to let your sister in law know that you mean no offense to anyone but that you prefer to be left out of any future invitations to the family reunions.

You do not have to speak to Doug anymore if you feel his behavior was uncalled for and it hurt you. If he will not respect your feelings, then it makes any relationship difficult and you may always have to deal with his assumptions that you are willing to go to the family reunions. However, if your son has any kind of relationship with Doug that you feel benefits him, you might want to try to make amends. You do not have to be close or even talk, just friendly enough for your son to benefit. But if there are no family connections, it is perfectly fine to wish Doug well and to stop communicating with him.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kate, thx so much for your quick reply. Just a little further info on this; I have a very close relationship with my sister-in-law Brenda, who is my deceased husband Ron's sister; she and I email every day and talk about 1x wk. She is first cousins with Doug.


She also has no desire whatsoever to attend reunions, and totally understands how I feel. My son (Ron was his dad) feels the same way. Brenda has told me that Doug has been calling her and saying he misses Ron the old days, he's in a lot of pain and talking about suicide. I said I think he needs professional help, but its no longer my business.

You're welcome!

I agree, what Doug does should not be your responsibility. And it also seems that his reasons for inviting you to the reunions might be because he misses his brother. But you are not there to take care of him and seeing you and your son is not going to fix how Doug feels. You are right, he needs to talk to someone especially if he is talking about suicide. Maybe suggest to Brenda that she might want to tell Doug to see a therapist and/or contact a suicide hotline for help, then leave the situation alone. The more you get drawn in, the more likely Doug will try to use you and your son to deal with his issues.

TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you so much for the positive rating and bonus! I appreciate it.

My best to you and your family,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kate McCoy Hi kate, I appreciated your advice, it helped a lot. Some other experts in the past have said, I should try to "reunite" Ron's family (inc. his daughters, other son and my son). I have always thought, b.s. - thats not my job.

Anyway, a bit of a follow up. I have not heard further from Doug (since the last thing he emailed was "f*$k you" I didn't expect to; and I have no plans to contact him at this time). However he did contact Brenda, mainly to complain about his health problems, and his suicidal feelings. Brenda and I are still in touch, we always have a lot to talk about (other than Doug! she just became a great grandma). My son Harrison is FB friends with Doug, but H has said to me, Don't worry about that stuff mom - they're not even your family. H has not liked the way Doug has tried to push a relationship with his bio half-sisters on him. Anyway, not sure what specific ? I have for you, just do you have any thoughts about all this. thx, chh

Hello CHH, it's great to talk with you again. I am glad I could help :)

It sounds like Doug has an agenda and this agenda is based on personal needs and/or emotional issues. His constant pushing of other family members to be together and get along sounds like he either hates conflict and/or rejection (which is difficult to believe given how he treated you, but it's possible), or he has issues from his childhood regarding his own family being together and getting along so he pushes that now within the extended family. He also seems to be a bit controlling, which could be part of why he pushes so hard to try to force people to conform to what he wants them to do. In all, this could mean Doug has a personality disorder ( or he has unmet needs from childhood that he is not coping with too well so he takes his issues out on family members.

His need to tell Brenda about his personal issues could be his way of trying to be "close" to her, not realizing that sharing is a two way street or that maybe his information is inappropriate or too personal.

Your son is right, you don't need to be worried or concerned unless Doug does something to hurt Brenda or your son (emotionally) or you feel there is some issue that will affect you. However, it is very understandable that you want to develop more insight into why Doug does these things because he did choose to turn his wrath onto you for not doing what he wanted you to do. His behavior is confusing and invasive at the same time. Also, trying to understand what motivates him can help you deal with any behavior of his that turns out to be harmful to someone. So no harm done. It just sounds like your son is concerned for you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Kate, one final thought before I go ahead and OK the payment. I agree that Doug seems to hate rejection, but he really seems to dig conflict!!!!! Last year he had a huge email fight w/Brenda, and recently he angrily deleted/blocked H's bio sisters from his FaceBook, after making a huge big deal to reunite with them.. He said he's "tired of reaching out to people, and getting kicked in the teeth." Frankly I'm sick of the guy, and tired of being polite to him. And you're right, I do try to understnad Doug's behavior, I just try not to obsess too much.

I credit my previous involvement in th 12step program (I was there for codependency: Ron was an alcoholic/addict, so was him mom and Doug's mom too). to being able to detach and handle this stuff calmly. But the opinion of a qualified person such as yourself really helps. Pls. let me know if you have any final thoughts, before I go ahead with the payment and tip.. thx, chh


What you said about Doug's behavior makes a lot of sense. If he hates rejection but is ok with conflict, it sounds like he is playing out something he witnessed as a child in his own household. Or it could be that he was never able to get his own needs met by his parents or caregivers and had to "play" emotional games with them in order to get attention. When kids are raised in dysfunctional homes, they tend to take in the patterns of behavior they learn then repeat them as adults, never seeing what they are doing as harmful to themselves or those around them.

I understand why you are tired of his behavior. Being around someone who is emotionally draining makes you want to stay out of their way as much as possible. Your experience in the 12 step program and with Ron and his family probably gives you more insight than most people. And it's good you want to figure out Doug's behavior. The more you know, the better equipped you are to deal with it and to understand your own reaction to it. And anyway I can help, I am happy to.

TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you so much! You are very kind.

Take care,

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