minoanmiss: A detail of the Ladies in Blue fresco (Lady in Blue)
minoanmiss ([personal profile] minoanmiss) wrote in [community profile] agonyaunt2017-05-09 07:19 pm

Dear Prudence: Of abortion, secrets, family, and lies.

This one is a doozy. I'm putting it behind a cut.


Dear Prudence,

When I was adopted, I got more than just parents—I got a whole family. This included a cousin who was exactly my age, and we immediately became best friends. We grew apart as teenagers, but I was the one she turned to when she learned she was pregnant. I knew her mother would disown her, so I helped her procure an abortion and went with her to the clinic, where we were seen by a classmate. I already had a bit of a reputation and was more resilient than my cousin, so I told everyone it was me getting an abortion. My cousin dropped me when all my friends did. Afraid her mom would hear about the clinic, she told her she’d accompanied me. My aunt told my parents, who nearly disowned me, and our relationship has never recovered. They still seem to regret adopting me, and I’m not welcome in family photos. I’m not welcome to attend holidays held at my aunt’s house because she thinks I “dragged her daughter down with me,” even 10 years later. My cousin remains the perfect angel of the family. I’m so fed up—I want to just tell everyone the truth. I don’t expect it to fix a thing, but I’m tired of carrying the burden. Would it be wrong of me to spill? I don’t want to be the black sheep anymore.

—Tired of Secrets

I’m pretty sure your family will find a way to make you stay the black sheep no matter what you do or say. Their desire to punish you is so calculated, such a long-running campaign, that I fear you will never be able to have a relationship with them that is not based upon isolation, recrimination, and abuse. You have reasonable expectations about what honesty can bring to this situation—you’re aware that your relationship with your family is damaged beyond repair through no fault of your own—but you should also keep in mind there’s a very good chance they won’t believe you, and that your cousin will call you a liar if you tell the truth. If she was willing to let you take the fall for her for all these years, I don’t think she’ll have any compunction about trying to do it again now.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, of course. You’ve kept a secret for a decade and I think you’re right to want to unburden yourself, but be aware that the outcome may be worse than you anticipated. More importantly, I think you should seriously consider to what degree you want your extended family in your life, and how to go about minimizing your contact with them, so you’re not setting yourself up for a lifetime of getting shoved out of frame during family photo time.

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