He Would Not Close the Door; I Had to Do it for Him and -Most Importantly- For Myself
I know this has been an ongoing saga for the past few months with me trying to reach out to my cousin who I had the codependency problem to at least for closure. However, he has been merely sending implicit messages and playing mind games such as blocking me on Instagram, sending letters back, and even had his fiancé curse us out. Last week, I was going to leave a letter attached to a book on his doorstep to find after he got home from work since I knew he gets home from work before his fiancé. However, I did not want to risk his fiancé getting it first and sabotaging it, and it was a rainy day that day so I knew the letter and the book were going to get wet. After consulting with my mom, we decided it would be best for me to go knock on the door before his fiancé got home from work to try to talk to him just one time to end this game of chicken. After all, I have not seen him in 6 years. However, I was not expecting to talk civilly with him; I was expecting for him to react the same way his fiancé did. If I was going to be kicked off his property, I wanted MY COUSIN to do it, not some woman who was a stranger to me. I knocked twice, and he did not answer. I said to him through the door " I guess this means that I don't have a cousin M anymore, and you don't have a Cousin Bria anymore." I ended up leaving a copy of the revised version of my first book that tore us a part 6 years ago just to make a point. I saw him come out and retrieve it through my rearview mirror a I was driving up the street. However, I felt like that was not closing doors just yet...
The next day, I went back with a letter that said:
I am writing you this letter to ensure you that I will NOT be coming near your house anymore or making anymore attempts to contact you. However, I just want to let you know how I feel and we can both go on and live our best lives. I came to your house the other day because I was hoping to look you in the eye after 6 years. I wanted to talk to you like two 20 year-old and 30 year-old civilized adults and give you a copy of my newest book on spirituality, but I was not expecting to talk to you. I expected you to come out and tell me to get off your property. There was no way in hell I was going to end this game of chicken with your fiancée, who I do not even know and does not even know me, kicking me off your property in such unnecessary rage. She had no right to treat my mom and me that way. If I am going to be kicked off your property, I wanted YOU, my cousin, to do it. But you couldn’t even do it. You had to have a woman, who is not even a part of this because this is between you and me for the past 10 years long before you met her, do it. If you heard me talking to the door, I made a statement saying, “I guess this is a message that I don’t have a cousin, M, anymore, and you don’t have a cousin, Bria, anymore.” What I meant by that is you do not act like my cousin, so I guess you don’t want to be bothered. I then decided to leave the revised version of the FICTIONAL story that drove us apart 6 years ago instead of my newest publication because I wanted to make a point that it was a fictional story. I saw through my rearview mirror as I was driving up that street you came out and retrieved it. The bottom line is if you do not want to be bothered, that is PERFECTLY FINE, but you never communicated that with me. You just kept sending implicit messages such as blocking me on Instagram, sending letters back, and having your fiancée fight your battles. If you would have sent me something back saying that you did not want to be bothered, I would have stopped immediately. I am willing to close this door, but you are not. I think you are not communicating with me because you A. don’t know how and/or B. want to play mind games-YOU LOST. I am closing the door to this waiting room by letting you know how I feel and then letting you go. As I learned in my recovery (if you decide to read the book that is attached to this- completely your choice whether you want to read it, store it, throw it away, shit on it, burn it, etc.), I learned that if you truly love someone, you can let them go and live without them. I have already created a wonderful life for myself in my young adulthood in college studying psychology and world religions with a minor in women and gender studies, in multiple recovery programs, in therapy, on a spiritual path that speaks to my soul, many great friends, 2 parents who love me and proud of me, and having 2 jobs that I love. Believe me. I don’t need a cousin who treated me the way you did without apologizing and treats me that way you still do. However, even though I hate your actions, I will ALWAYS love you as my cousin. I am sorry for some of the things I said and did years ago to try to fix and control you because I was very young ( a lot changes between 14 and 20) and did not have the tools that I do now from my recovery. I have changed a lot, but if you have one version of me stuck in your head, that is your problem, not mine. If you experience an epiphany one day, even if it is decades from now, know that I am always here for you. My phone number will always be XXX-XXX-XXXX. Sorry this is the way it has to be, but you want it this way and I respect it."
attached to a copy of my newest book to show him how much I evolved. I left it on the doorstep when it was only him at home. I did not even need to knock; the dog started barking, which did not happen the day before. I ran back to my car and saw him come out once again to retrieve the cargo on his porch. I swung back around the street to exit the development and saw him standing on the edge of his driveway on his phone. I then drove to my therapist appointment and read her the above letter, and she thought I did an excellent job telling him how I felt without being accusatory and closing the door.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is the other person will not always be willing to close the door. That is when you have to take initiative yourself as the healthy, recovering person to close it by any peaceful, non-violent means that you see fit. You cannot control what others do; you can only control what you do. It was not the outcome that I was hoping for, which was making amends with my cousin and having a cousin relationship with him going forward (in an ideal world), but I could not expect any different because he has a pattern of being unhealthy. My therapist told me when it comes to doing this type of stuff there is a happy medium between being angry, mean, and accusatory and too nice to the point that you are kissing up to still get the person's approval. She said she feels my letter and course of action met that happy medium because it validated how I felt by using "I" statements as much as possible, was firm which meant I was standing up for myself, and respectful because I apologized for my role and acknowledged his wishes and promised I would respect them. I was told I was setting boundaries for both myself and him.
That prior session, my therapist read me something from Instagram that talked about not waiting in someone else's "waiting room." In that session after I closed the door, my therapist said that it sounds like lifted the weight off my shoulders, left it in the waiting room, walked out, and locked the door. That visualization helps me a lot. Looking back, that waiting was cold, lonely, and dark; I do not have to wait there anymore and should not have to wait there anymore because he may never come out. It goes back to that basic principle I realized when I first got into recovery just over a year and half ago: it will happen in the Universe's time, not my time and I have to take care of myself in the meantime. If it never happens, there is a Greater Purpose for that. I do not have to miss out on anymore beautiful things the world and the Universe has to offer me while waiting in that cold, lonely, dark waiting room for someone who may never come out.
Bria Riley is a published author, recovering codependent and adult child of an alcoholic, who is active in several recovery programs. She knows the turmoil and heartbreak of growing up in an addiction-stricken family and wants to help others who have also been affected by addiction through her writing.