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A week with my cousin

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I apologise that this is long. I've kept it as short as possible.

I'm looking for some advice. Basically I want to know if I'm overreacting due to a previous situation or if I'm right in recognising there are red flags.

First a bit of background information so you understand why I feel the way I do about the second situation.

I was friends with someone for about 10 years. To cut a very long story short, during those 10 years she would often put me down, criticise me blame me for things she had done, she sent many abusive text messages and phone calls, constantly gaslighted me and I once had my life put in danger deliberately. Because of all that abuse I have a few issues.

Now for the current situation. I had recently got in touch with my cousin who I had not spoken to for about 14 years due to losing touch. When we were younger we got on like a house on fire and I would often stay with her and her mum when I visited our grandparents as they lived in the same town. Due to a few circumstances we lost touch but I found her one day on Facebook. We always made promises to ring one another but it didn't happen for a long time.

I eventually ended up calling her and it was like no time had passed. We were both excited to speak and we made plans for me to visit her a few months later. We spoke a few times after that mainly catching up on our lives and planning what we would do when I visited. We decided that we would go camping for a few days which I was really looking forward to.

Fast forward a few months and I'm off to visit her. On my first night there I'm sitting watching tv and she was in another room a few metres away I heard her say 'they're watching us'. I asked her who was watching us and why? Immediately she became defensive and said I never said that, why would I say that? You must have misheard or maybe you heard it on the tv. Nope I heard it loud and clear and it did not come from the direction of the tv and also the sound on the tv was turned down quite low and the voice I heard was hers or at least close enough to let me think it was hers. I do admit that because of mental health issues I do hear voices so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt but I had a niggling feeling she wasn't being honest with me but I decided to let it go.

The second day I was there we were going to go and pick up her daughter who had been staying at her dad's. She told me the relationship had gone bad and that he treated her badly. I wouldn't know, not for me to judge as I hadn't been there but what I saw of her temper later in the week I doubted she was entirely innocent. She told me that he annoyed her at times so she bashed him. Red flag right there. We went to a park to meet up with her ex and she introduced us. I said hi nice to meet you and when he left she started yelling at me in the park and accused me of taking his side. I knew him for all of two minutes. I didn't want to aggravate things further so I decided not to say any more until she had calmed her temper down.

A couple of days later she walked into the room and started screaming at me I'M GOING CAMPING AND YOU'RE NOT INVITED. I'M GOING WITH A FRIEND BECAUSE I ORGANISED THIS WITH HIM AGES AGO AND YOU'RE NOT WELCOME! I was sitting there shaking wondering what had caused this and I'm thinking hang on, we'd organised to go camping a few months ago and not once did she tell me she had planned something with someone else. I was then left overnight by myself in a very very hot house with an air conditioner that wouldn't work and no food. Being a small country town all the shops shut early so I couldn't go and get food for myself.

The next day she returned from her overnight camping trip acting as if nothing had happened. I didn't want to bring anything up because I had noticed she had a very quick temper. She would often scream at her 7 year old daughter that she was a fucking selfish child and it was no wonder kids didn't want to play with her.

The next day she went to work all happy and said she'd see me in the afternoon. I thought great she's happy. Famous last words. That afternoon when she came home she started screaming at me accusing me of walking around her house with my camera taking photos. Which never happened. She also accused me of leaning over her while she was reading private mail and taking photos of her. Again, it never happened. I decided it was best I leave but being a small town and me not driving public transport options are extremely limited. On top of that the train line I had booked my arrival ticket on was all booked out on the day I wanted to go home and so too were other days. I decided to check one last time and the gods must have been looking down on me because there were tickets available. I decided to book the next one which was 3.30am. I only had 12 hours to wait. Longest. 12. Hours. Of. My. Life.

While I was waiting for 3am to roll around which was the time she was going to drop me off at the train station we were pretty much on non speaking terms and because of all the abuse my former friend had put me through, this situation was causing me to have constant memories of what she did which was making me very anxious. I was constantly on edge and thought it was best I stay out of her way. A few hours later she walked into the room and asked me if I wanted the microwave meal I had bought heated up in the microwave for dinner. At the time I wasn't hungry and I said no thanks, I'm ok. she then screamed at me WHAT? and I said no thank you I'm not hungry and again she screamed WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHAT YOU'RE NOT HUNGRY? OH SO YOU ATE EVERY OTHER TIME! I didn't understand why she was getting so worked up and I said I'm really sorry but I'm not hungry and I don't know why you're taking this personally. She looked at me very calmly and for a few seconds I thought she's finally settled down. but nope. GET OUT, GET OUT OF THIS ROOM. GET OUT OF MY FUCKING SIGHT! I didn't want to antagonise her any further because she had previously told me that she owned swords that were very sharp and that she had bashed her ex before. So I thought it was best I retreat.

Finally the time arrives for me to leave and by this time she had calmed down. She drove me to the train station and I said to her that I was sorry the week had gone the way it had and she said yeah sorry about that I get like that at times I even treat my mum like that so you're not the only one. Then she snapped at me and said I've already said sorry don't expect me to say it again and I said I never said you had to. I was of course greeted with her lovely temper. DON'T INTERRUPT ME! DON'T EVER INTERRUPT WHEN I'M SPEAKING! Then she became calm again and went on about how it was wrong of me to walk around her house taking photos. Which I had never done but she wouldn't believe me because to her the truth is what she sees not what it actually is.

I finally got on the train and instantly felt the calmness come over me. A few red flags were raised that week. One being her admittance that she would get violent. The second red flag was her accusing me of doing things I hadn't done- like taking photos. The third red flag was when she said sorry and made excuses about how she had a bad relationship with her ex and this is why she lost her temper often but I thought if you recognise you have an issue and don't do anything about it and use a bad experience to justify why you lose your temper that's a massive red flag for me. The fourth red flag was when I heard her say 'they're watching us' I'll swear black and blue I heard her say it but because I do hear voices I can accept that it probably could have been that but looking back at that week I can't help thinking that my initial belief about it being her was possible.

After that week (which was a couple of months ago) I've decided I'm in no hurry to visit her again and if we lose contact again I won't be bothered but then I think am I overreacting? maybe she did have a bad relationship (I only have her side of the story) and maybe it affected her badly and that the next time everything will be fine. But then I think about what my friend put me through and all the times I said to myself the next time will be fine because she will do something about her behaviour but of course she never did.

Am I being unfair to my cousin judging her the way I am because of a previous situation I've been in with someone else? Or am I right in wanting to keep my distance from her until she recognises that her behaviour and temper needs help?

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I don't think you're being unfair. It sounds like she has mental health issues that are not being treated or addressed. If she was a little paranoid or there was just one instance of her losing her temper and she apologized then I would say not to give up on the relationship, but what you are describing is beyond that.

As a mom, her screaming that at her child would be a big NO for me. I lose my temper with my son sometimes and snap at him to cut it out, but what she said is emotionally abusive and I would not want to be around that.

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4 hours ago, Gearhead said:

Congratulations! I’m going to break our no diagnosing rule for you and tell you your cousin is nutty as squirrel poo. 

You do not need her in your life.

This is how I'm feeling. As much as we got along when we were younger, I need to protect myself and being someone's emotional punching bag is not something I want to go through again. Been there done that got the issues to show it. Maybe if my cousin recognised that she needs help I might be willing to give her a chance but until then I can't risk it.

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