I recently mentioned in a post two people in my life I am not speaking to and have cut out of my life. One of these people is a cousin of mine. We were extremely close until about 4 years ago when the rift between us occurred. I told my cousin I needed space from her so that I could move forward in my life making my own decisions for myself. Without going too deeply into what happened, we had had a big argument and in the fall out I realised the extent to which she was interfering in my life. She had a habit of controlling me in subtle ways that I didn’t see or even realise at the time because I was so used to it; one small example of this is that she wouldn’t like it if I spoke to certain people on a night out, she’d practically pull me away from them. I also wasn’t able to make any decision for myself when we did things together. On a more overt level of influence and control of me, my cousin tried to influence me to give up working for myself and to go and get a ‘real job’. This was actually the straw that broke the camels back because over this issue I saw how much much she didn’t believe in me and aimed to force me into doing something that I would hate — while at the same time thinking she was helping me by acting in my best interests.
The rift between us has not healed over the years and we haven’t been in direct contact. I’m not sure enough has changed in me yet to be able to deal with the boundary encroachment in this relationship. While I logically can hope that we would have a different dynamic between us now, a deeper level of awareness in my feelings tells me that we would not. I sense that the need for her to protect me from imagined dangers would still be there, as would too much interference in terms of how I ought to be living my life.
I write about my cousin and this issue of boundary encroachment because the same situation has emerged with a different person in my life. This person isn’t a family member or even somebody I would consider to be a close friend, however, we do see each other enough socially for it to grate on me.
This person has taken it upon herself socially to be some kind of protector-figure-instructor for me in the ways of being a ‘good Turkish woman’. From the very first night we met, she has played an odd role with me where she goes out of her way to make me feel ‘comfortable’ in a bossy intrusive way that steps on my sovereignty. I can see that from her side she thinks she’s being friendly, but from my side I feel molleycuddled and patronised by her. Overall, the situation is curious to me because it leaves me thinking that she must have a very wrong idea of me as an enfeebled person who doesn’t know the ways of the world.
Another thing this person regularly does is tell me NOT to do things. For example, at the NYE party she must have told me 10 times not to ‘dance’ this way or that way. I completely ignored her and found it odd that she could even notice or care how I was dancing. These diktats are otherwise expressed about anything random and insignificant from my point of view. I called myself a ‘Cade’ (Turkish word for witch that is pronounced like my name Jade) and her reply was ‘a Turkish woman would never call herself a Cade,’ plus disapproving head-shake. On a previous occasion she has also told me how wrong I am to cut up a tomato in a certain way.
When I reflect on my own behaviour in relation to this person my attitude has been to ignore most of it. From my side, I can’t think of any time I told her to do this or to do that. From my side I let her get on with what she is doing and I don’t care how she wants to cut up her tomatoes. 😉 However, I can’t deny that all her ‘shoulds’ and mini disapprovals do rattle me. If she merely backed off, we could be great friends!
Basically, I am in a situation where although I have cut my cousin out of my life, she has come back in a new Turkish shape. It’s a little different this time as I don’t consider myself to be strongly bonded with the new controller/boundary-crosser but otherwise the dynamic is the same. It would appear that there is no running from this problem.
Any thoughts and advice regarding how to deal with such people would be greatly appreciated! P.S. I prefer it when you speak from your own experience rather than read into my own actions and project on me.