Yesterday I called Child Protection Services to make a notification. It felt terrible, and the person taking the statement didn’t make it any easier – she informed me at the start that there were no other notifications about my nieces and nephews, in a tone that indicated I was wasting her time because if anything serious was going on then they would already know about it.
I spent the rest of the day in kind of a foggy haze, unable to focus on work or put words together to talk to my colleagues. When a friend tried to give me a hug I was overcome with anger – I didn’t want him near me or touching me, and I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to be alone.
I spent most of the night looking at photos of me and my cousin, as babies, as children, as teenagers, and as adults. There’s one photo I particularly love taken at about this time last year, leaning together and grinning at the camera at my brother’s wedding.
But I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me until I cried in DBT this morning. I just feel so guilty for not stepping up and talking to my cousin sooner. I love her so much and I’m so afraid of being rejected by her that I’ve never been able to bring myself to confront her. But if I had, maybe things wouldn’t have got this far. I keep reminding myself that she has chosen to act the way she does, and I’m not responsible for trying to change her behaviour to prevent her having to face the consequences of that behaviour. But that’s just words and logic and it can’t touch the part of my heart that’s hurting.
The kids are the most important thing. That’s why I made that call. My cousin matters too, and even if it was the right decision, it doesn’t make it easy.
But despite the fact I’m struggling, I’m doing okay. The charity I work for had a Board meeting today, and the directors praised my work on the Board papers (all 80 pages of them…) and elected me company secretary. Even though I’ve been very emotionally affected by feeling as though I’ve betrayed my cousin, the most self-destructive thing I’ve done is eat too much chocolate. I’m doing my best to come up with practical ideas of how to support the kids, like getting them to see the school counselor and paying for them to take swimming lessons. I don’t have any control over what I did and didn’t do in the past. But at least I’m doing my best in the present.