People Do Grow Up and Change

by admin on January 16, 2014

My cousin is marrying my most hated adversary from elementary/middle school. They want to me forgive & forget and come to the wedding. I can’t. I absolutely will not stand in the same room with this woman and pretend to be happy while she marries my cousin.

This woman, “Lisa”, made me miserable from grades 5-8. It all started over a poster. She was a big fan of a particular singer. My female cousin got to go to his show when his tour went through our state and she brought me a poster. I told Lisa she could have it since my favorite singer was someone else. Somewhere between home and school, I lost the poster. I rode the bus and I think someone helped themselves to it or I just simply lost it. When I told Lisa, she started screaming that I was a liar, I was keeping the poster for myself, I was being mean because I knew she loved this singer so much and I was the most awful person in the world. Um, not true. I had really lost the thing but, of course, 5th grade girls can be dramatic.

So it started with a poster and just kept morphing into other things for her to harass me about- my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my friends, etc. My parents could not really help because they were divorced, mom lived in another state and dad owned & operated a farm and was too busy to notice I was miserable.

Once we moved on to high school, things changed a bit. Lisa was no longer the big fish in a small pond and we hardly ever saw each other. The only class we had together, she actually had the nerve to ask me to copy my homework! (I said no) After that, she would occasionally take a swipe at me but I had made really good friends who had my back and Lisa was no longer able to get under my skin as much.

When I turned 16, I moved to live with my mom. Twelve years have rolled by. High school graduation, college, starting careers. Last year (2012) around Thanksgiving, my mom said that my Aunt had told her that cousin Brady had reconnected with a girlfriend from college, Lisa, and had been dating for about 6 months. Aunt Edie said it was quite serious and Brady was talking marriage. Never in a million years did I think it was same Lisa- it never crossed my mind. Brady has gone to college a state over from our home state and really, what are the odds?

Four weeks ago, the invitation arrived in the mail. Honestly, I was surprised to be invited. Brady and I got along well when we were kids, we would see each other at family events during the year but he went to a different school than I did as he lived a county over, and I wouldn’t say we were super close. I have not even seen that side of the family in about 3 years. The last time I visited home state Brady was not there, so it has probably has been over 5 years since I have seen him.

I opened the invitation, saw the last name and thought “no way” but when I turned the invite over- there she was- smiling and all hugged up on my cousin. I called Aunt Edie and she confirmed my worst fears- it was indeed that Lisa and she had told them she had gone to school with me but didn’t really know me. Like hell she didn’t know me. She did not know the real me, the person I had become but she knew who I was. How do you forget the person you tortured for 4 years because of a poster!?!

After talking to my friends about this, I decided to just decline the invitation. He obvious loves her, I will practically never see them and maybe she had honestly forgotten how awful she had been to me or maybe, just maybe, she has changed.

Brady & Lisa called a few nights ago and wanted to know why I wasn’t coming to their wedding. They really wanted all the family to come and be with them. I said I just couldn’t make it. They kept pressing and pressing. They even went so far as to say that they would pay for me to come if money was the problem (it’s not- I just do not like her), so I finally decided to tell them and remind Lisa exactly what she had done to me.

First, she completely denied it. Then she said maybe, but she really doesn’t remember. Next, it was, “Oh, we were just kids and kids do those things to each other.”  Finally, it was why can’t I just forgive and forget. Yes, kids do those things to each other but she really made me miserable and lowered my self-esteem with all her remarks.  Four years of remarks. So, no, I can’t just forgive and forget. Brady did not say much but I think he was surprised. She has obviously not shown him or the rest of the family her true colors.

Since then, Lisa has had my Aunt Edie, my Aunt Edna (mom’s sisters who still live in home state) and even my own Grandmother, call me and tell me I should forget about the past and move on. I don’t think she has told them the real story or how long it went on. Since I unfortunately opened my mouth, I am just trying to let it all die down. I wish, wish, wish I had continued to bean dip when Brady & Lisa called. I don’t understand WHY it is so important to Lisa that I am there. I think she just wants to torture me some more.

I thought this was the kind of thing that happened to people you see on talk shows. I’m just a small town girl from a small town. How did I get to be in the middle of this craziness? 1218-13

When I was 13,  there was a girl who bullied and harassed me to the point that I became an emotional wreck and had to be removed from school and taught by a tutor for several months.   As the years went by we bumped accidentally into each other in high school, in stores and other community related events and my tension level would be off the scale.   But something amazing happened.   We both grew up and became adults.  I discovered that her family life during those earlier years was horrendous and she was a very unhappy person who took her pain out on others.  She became a born again Christian and had a complete turn around of her life.  She is now one of the nicest people I know and we are friends on Facebook.   The moral of this is that people do grow up and stop behaving like children and people can and do change.   If we are to be adults, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt that they have indeed changed and matured.

It sounds to me that Lisa has moved on to being an adult and her efforts to reach out to you is an olive branch, of sorts.   She may never give you the apology you seek but how she treats you from here on out is the more important criteria proving that she is not the same stupid teenager you knew years ago.   You, however, are emotionally stuck at age 12 and as your family has noted, you have not moved forward into being a whole adult.   You are the one still suffering and living with baggage and to be honest,  you are not hurting Lisa and Brady as much as you are hurting yourself.   There must come a time in your life when you resolve to not let people live in your brain rent free and allow them to dictate your emotions and actions.   This would be a good time to start making that transition to evicting the memory of Lisa’s behavior, wiping the slate clean and giving her another chance.   That doesn’t mean you have to become buddy-buddy pals with her but it does mean you develop the adult life skill of being civil and gracious to other adults.

 

{ 162 comments… read them below or add one }

Allie January 16, 2014 at 9:18 pm

This is the plot of a movie called You Again with Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell and Sigourney Weaver. It’s quite funny. Perhaps you should watch it. I have to say I don’t agree with Admin on this one. Just because you don’t feel inclined to go to the wedding doesn’t mean you haven’t grown up. If you don’t want to go, politely stick to your guns. After all, it’s just your cousin, not your brother (as in the movie).

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lakey January 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm

I disagree with the administrator for 1 reason. We all make mistakes, especially when we are young. We all can be forgiven. In order to be forgiven we have to take responsibility for our actions. The administrator thinks that Lisa has become an adult, and the OP hasn’t. Lisa, instead of owning her behavior and apologizing for it, like an adult, has pretended to not remember, then sorta, kinda, maybe admitted to it. Then insisted that it should be overlooked without ever actually acknowledging it and apologizing for it. Not adult behavior in my book.

As far as the OP’s experiences, I spent 30 something years teaching 4th and 5th grade and witnessed this kind of behavior. A couple of girls will be friends, something causes them to be on the outs, one of them does everything she can to turn the other one’s life into a living hell, including by getting other girls to turn on the victim. This behavior is very difficult for school personnel to deal with because the victimizers are clever enough to not do anything overt enough to be caught. They can do a huge amount of damage to a child without ever breaking a rule.

Until Lisa grows up enough to stop making excuses such as “Oh we were just kids and kids do those things to each other,” she has not earned forgiveness. She doesn’t think enough of OP to make an actual apology, and she has no right to demand that OP inconvenience herself by attending her wedding. OP is not holding a childish grudge, she is waiting for the sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and apology that she is due.

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JGM1764 January 16, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Forgiving and moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. I’m in therapy now, after many, many years of depression and self-harm behavior. Forgiveness is one of the things I am working on, but I have no intention of inviting toxic people back into my life. OP tried to civilly decline and that was her rightful choice. From what she said, I didn’t get the impression she was wallowing either. If Lisa stirs up too much pain, she’s not obligated to go.

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lakey January 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm

“It is an adult life skill to learn to greet despicable people with a civil greeting, behave professionally around them, to learn to be discreet enough to not yield personal information to them, and let it roll right off your back afterwards.”

Actually, OP did try to handle the invitation by courteously saying she wouldn’t be able to attend. She didn’t bring up any of the old business. Instead of accepting her decision to not attend, she was pushed on the subject, not only by Lisa, but by 2 aunts. Since when is it acceptable to pressure a person to attend an event when they politely tell you that they won’t be able to? By continuing to push the issue, Lisa is showing that really hasn’t changed, and still thinks mainly about herself.

OP yielded the personal information when at least 3 people hounded her to go after she said she wouldn’t be able to, and those people wouldn’t let up. If they had accepted her decision, and let up on her, she wouldn’t have needed to tell the reason that she wasn’t going.

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Angela January 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

It’s interesting to see the range of emotional reactions to this story. It’s a little like a Rorschach test.

I was surprised to see that the OP was a college graduate in her late 20′s. The voice of the submission sounds a lot like my teenage nieces. Yes, Lisa should have apologized. But she was a girl who was at most 14. We don’t typically judge people by the person they were at 14.

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Liza January 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm

I, too, was bullied in middle school by one girl (who never acknowledged her behavior or apologized) and while I last saw her two years ago at my 3oth high school reunion and we exchanged hellos, I want nothing to do with her nor would I be interested in celebrating a life event with her. I am not wallowing in my fears or self-pity or living in the past and I am a forgiving person. I don’t blame OP for not wanting to attend the wedding and agree that Lisa and the family members are now bullying her about not attending the wedding. If Lisa was really interested in OP attending (rather than trying to hide from her fiancé her bad behavior by making OP look bad), then she should have reached out in private and acknowledged her past behavior and asked for forgiveness. That would have been big of her and an indication of her maturity.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 7:23 am

If we must wait for the other person to do X,Y and Z, in perfect order and execution, before we can act with graciousness towards them, this will be a dismal world.

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Iris January 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

I agree with acr. I see no evidence that Lisa has been living rent free in the OP’s head. She probably hadn’t thought of her in years until she popped up on the wedding invitation. The OP decided that she didn’t want to go to her cousin’s wedding (that she hadn’t seen in 5 YEARS) which is not unreasonable, no matter what her reasons were. Heck, she could just not like weddings or be washing her hair that weekend, that is her right.

The only problems I see here are that instead of respecting that decision Brady & Lisa decided to put pressure on the OP to attend. It is absolutely not OK to do that for any event, and THAT is the action that led to Lisa’s bullying being exposed. As far as I can tell, with the drama that has been stirred up now, Lisa hasn’t changed at all. Now instead of not getting a poster she’s not getting a PERFECT WEDDING but she is showing that she doesn’t care what length she goes to when someone acts in a manner that doesn’t suit her.

I agree that adults do need to learn to be civil to those that they don’t like, and I would hope that if the OP had gone to the wedding not realising that Lisa was the woman she knew then she would have behaved appropriately. But I see no reason to suggest that choosing not to attend a wedding of someone she is not close to and didn’t even expect an invitation from is not behaving in an adult manner. Badgering your guests and then involving other family members is another matter.

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Peep January 17, 2014 at 1:40 am

Respectfully, I don’t see why so many people are jumping on the OP to “get over it”. If you take out the issue of the past bullying, the bride and groom are still acting like boors. The OP got an invitation to a wedding for a family member she has very limited contact with and is not close to. She choose to politely decline. This distant family member and his bride then called up the OP, and hassled her until they got an answer as to why she wasn’t coming, and then tried to harass her until she agreed to attend. If that wasn’t enough, they then enlisted some of the OP’s own family to harass and attempt to force the OP to attend their event. What part of that is acceptable behavior on the bride and groom’s part? Why should the OP be bullied into attending an event that she never wanted to attend in the first place, and already politely declined?

The bride’s actions alone show that she has NOT changed in the least, and the OP was probably right about not attending. Her reluctance to attend this event is not evidence that she is still living in the past, or has the mentality of a 12 year old. She didn’t want to attend an event for a relative that she never sees, and who is marrying someone she doesn’t like. It’s a huge hassle and expense to attend a wedding for any guest, and I’m sure the OP could find a better place to spend her time and money. Her “no” should never have been questioned by the bride and groom, and the bride should *never* have tried to enlist the help of the OP’s own family to bully her into going. I don’t see why the OP should reward that kind of behavior by giving the bride what she wants.

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Elsie January 17, 2014 at 1:43 am

There are a few people in my life that I would never want to be around, even for just passing by them in the hall. However, if I were close to the cousin getting married, I would still go in order to show my support for him. You don’t have to talk to the bride at all, aside from the civil “Congratulations”. Bean dip if anyone pesters you about it. Flat out say you don’t want to talk about what happened nor why you don’t wanna talk to the bride at the event. If bride corners you, you firmly tell her this is not the place to have that discussion and walk away.

However, you also do not HAVE to go. Whatever the reason, if she bothers you this much, there are emotions in you that have not yet settled. A wedding is not the time or place to deal with those, so if she is just too uncomfortable to be around, do not go. Firmly tell your family members this is not up for discussion and any attempts to bully/manipulate/blackmail you into going is only going to make you RESENT them.

Honestly OP, you are now stuck in a rut because you told them why you don’t want to go. You should have never done that. When you present a conflict, people WILL try to force you into negotiating. They will try and try and try to beat down ANY excuse/reason you give to them. That is why you should never offer it. No matter what. If they get too annoying, make up the most obvious and ridiculous reason you can think and swear by it until you are blue in the face! (“Oh, I’d love to go, but the space elephants from sector 2345 of the Galactic Headquarters desperately needs my help on that day!”). ;)

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immadz January 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

Just as no one is owed an invitation. No one is owed attendance either. The writer, is completely justified in her reluctance to attend a distant cousin’s wedding. She tried politely declining multiple times. It is rude to push guests, till they are forced to blurt out the truths that they had not initially thought to share.

Once the sharing was done, however unfortunately, dignity lay in keeping quiet about the guest’s reasons for not attending. People will forgive, when they feel it is right for them to do so. Noone other than the victim gets to decide about forgiveness. Lisa has two choices, either wait for the writer to forgive her, give up on getting forgiveness and move on with her life. Getting together a team of family members to coerce the writer into forgiving her is not only futile, it is rude.

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Kate January 17, 2014 at 2:16 am

@Karen L, I love your suggestion. That’s always been my plan if I ever run into someone unpleasant from my past, like a school bully – puzzled “do I know you?” expression, and a general attitude of ‘you have had no impact on my life whatsoever’. All the bully ever wants, after all, is a reaction.

OP, it’s ultimately your call – but depending on the closeness of your family, this situation is going to arise again with family reunions, holidays, other weddings etc. Are you really happy letting this Lisa dictate the terms on which you see your own family? You don’t have to forgive her if you’re unable to do so, but I would suggest working on a level of resilience that would allow you to at least be in the same room. That way, you’re not running the risk of looking petty in front of your family members.

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Lenore January 17, 2014 at 2:22 am

I was always under the impression that an invitation is not a summons. Yes, OP should let go of Lisa’s past actions. Letting go doesn’t mean that you condone their behaviour or excuse it, but you acknowledge that it happened, and don’t let them have any part of your life any further. I get the idea that OP was trying to do that when she declined the invitation, but for some reason Lisa didn’t want to acknowledge that. Right there she was exhibiting some bullying behaviour by refusing to take a polite “no” for an answer.

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FizzyChip January 17, 2014 at 3:49 am

Like a lot of people here, I can see both sides. Certainly the OP has the right not to attend a social event for whatever reason, the difficulty here is that she was honest about her reasons for not attending and as a result is being seen as unforgiving. It’s easy to say that the OP should “grow-up” and just go to the event, however having been on the receiving end of school-yard bullying myself, I must admit even to this day (and I’m approaching 50) that I’d rather eat dirt than see some of those people again.

OP – you are now left with two choices – go to the wedding, fix a smile to your face, don’t engage the couple unecessarily unless it’s the usual “congratulations”. Remember it would be THEIR wedding day and it’s not the opportunity to air dirty laundry. This would have the effect of appeasing your family and just getting them off your back. You can be suddenly busy/unavailable should they extend further invitaitons.

or, you could stick to your guns and widen the family rift threatening here.

Personally, I favour thr former “grin & bear it” option, this person IS going to be a member of your family, whether you like it or not, whether you’re there or not. Don’t set yourself up for being blamed for anything that may go wrong within the relationship down the road (I can just picture it in 5 years time can’t you? “OP never liked me and refused to come to the weding & husband always blamed ME for it”).

Take the high road here & be gracious. Good luck.

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Mya January 17, 2014 at 4:31 am

I was in a similar situation to you both in Primary School and again in secondary school. I once ran into the boy that bullied me in Primary School and I swear my heart stopped. I was sweating and felt cold and sick. Bullying can have a profound effect on a persons life and the gravity of this should not be underestimated. At the same time, children are children. They have little concept of the consequences of their actions. They want to be the big ‘I am’, they want to be popular and funny and if a shortcut to that is belittling someone else, they don’t stop to think about how that someone else feels about it.

If I were you, and still felt strongly about the hurt and pain ‘Lisa’ inflicted, there really is only one recourse: Confront her and explain how her actions affected you. She may be genuinely shocked to have had such a profound effect on a person.

Now you mentioned that you did, on the phone, with your cousin present and she made excuses and blah blah. But really it wasn’t a constructive conversation because you didn’t have time to plan what you wanted to say. I would suggest one of two things: Either you write her a carefully worded letter explaining how her actions affected you at the time and how they affected your development into adulthood (try to avoid becoming aggressive and combative in the letter though – stick to factual statements like ‘When changing for Gym class you would loudly point out to the other girls that I had XYZ and they would point and laugh. This caused me a great deal of distress and embarrassment and adversely affected my self esteem.’). The other option is to do the same thing but face to face in a neutral location – perhaps with some sort of neutral intermediary – I’m sure there are mediation services you can hire.

Ultimately, if you are hanging on to the pain after all this time and you genuinely feel that you cannot attend the wedding, then explain this to your relations then cease conversing on the subject. You have declined to attend. You cannot accommodate their request. End of Story.

For your own sake though, you need some sort of resolution or closure on this. I find that it helps to put things into perspective. For example – a girl at Secondary school that was quite spiteful to me used to go on and on about how popular she was and how great her life was while I was lonely and miserable. But a couple of years ago I was in a shopping centre (the UK version of a Shopping Mall) and ran across her working as a Sales Assistant in a clothing shop. I ran into her again the following year doing the same job but in a different shop. To put this into perspective, a Sales assistant in the UK probably earns little more than £7 an hour if she’s lucky. This equates to about £16,000 a year more or less. This is a very poorly paid job with a limited career ladder – even retail managers struggle to get over £20,000 a year in the clothing industry. I, on the other hand, have a bottom-of-the-ladder role in IT that pays considerably more than a top level retail role, I have a career path with extensive branches and a high earning potential. To top it off? She had to SERVE ME. As a customer in her store she had to bite her tongue and play nice.

It helps to put things into perspective and it helps to reaffirm your position in life. Think about the friends you have now. The qualifications and the job. All the things you Americans like to celebrate on your Thanksgiving holiday.

The other option is to ‘Be the bigger person’. Straighten your spine, hide your feelings and rise above it. Don’t let her make catty remarks, or if she does, your reaction will determine how others perceive the exchange. If you don’t react to it, she just ends up looking a fool and word spreads quickly when someone behaves poorly. My sister has a habit of making Catty remarks. I suspect that my sister was a bit of a ‘Lisa’ at school herself and I’m known in my family for being oversensitive but I’m working on rising above it. She keeps upping the ante and it makes it hard but then I think about how she works in the hospitality industry with unsocial hours earning the same as I do for working less hours in a comfy office. My relationship with my partner is in better shape than hers with her husband and we have all sorts of fun things in our lives like our pets. My in-laws are infinitely less interfering than hers and my partner and I are free to indulge our whims in our home (her in-laws helped them buy the house and now feel they can dictate how they live in it).

Keep your cards close to your chest. Don’t give too much away and rise above it. Be the bigger person.

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Mer January 17, 2014 at 6:03 am

Lerah99: What drama did OP stir up? Politely declining to attend a wedding is not stirring up drama. Drama was stirred up because the happy couple could not respect an answer. No is a complete sentence, but there is just so many times you can use the same word when someone keeps pestering you and not giving up. Frankly, I believe that even if OP had not mentioned that Lisa was bullying her in school but just continuing to say that she would not attend, same drama would have stirred up with grandmothers and aunts. This time they just would complain about how she would not explain why she is not coming and how she is being rude and mean by not coming.

I’m slightly on two minds about what the admin advised. I agree with the fact, that as an adult, you must be able to be civil with unpleasant persons. Had the situation been such that OP had found out in the wedding itself (or after rsvping yes) that Lisa is the same person, my answer would have been “plaster a smile on your face and be civil (but slightly distant)”. However, now I feel that the question is not this, but should OP actively seek the company of hurtful person. Part of being adult is also that you no longer have parents as guardians but you must yourself choose the company you keep. And steer away from the hurtful people.

And frankly, now this is also the question of power. Admin brought up the fact that OP showed Lisa that Lisa’s actions still bothered her. That is one aspect of it, and I agree that in a sense it might have been better if she would have not told her so. (On the other hand, that at least was a chance that they could actually work together to better their relationship that cannot really be fixed by one sided effort only.) However, as the situation is now what it is, the question of power is: Will Lisa be able to bully OP to attend a function she does not want to attend by using the family dynamics.

If Lisa would have wanted to better her relationship with OP, she would have contacted and talked to OP herself and tried to clear the air. Not trying to use her relatives. Should OP now cave in, it is a victory for Lisa and clear demonstration that she is still able to bully OP and affect her life choices and make her do as she wants her to do by pulling some strings.

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KarenK January 17, 2014 at 6:06 am

Choosing not to be in the same room with someone who tormented you is not wallowing in it or not growing up or not moving on. It’s exercising one’s right to free association with people who you are happy to be with, and not be with those you are not. The OP tried to to get out of this with as little drama as possible, but was bullied into it, and then subjected to more bullying by her aunts and grandmother. The OP is not particularly close to this cousin. I don’t understand why it’s so important for her to be there.

A PP said that a sincere apology from Lisa would have gone a long way to resolving this situation, but instead the OP got no acknowledgement of the situation whatsoever – no indication that Lisa had changed one bit. I agree.

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Jessica January 17, 2014 at 6:18 am

Ok, first and foremost, I understand why OP is so upset. Sometimes childhood bullying stays with you; I personally still feel nervous when I pass an old bully of mine’s house, and that incident was 10 years ago. However, it is important to grow as a person, and I agree that you are letting her have a lot of power over you.

That being said, if you really felt that you did not want to attend this wedding, then how you went about it was completely wrong. When they insisted on a reason, you should not have dragged up the past. Not for her sake, but for yours. By telling them what happened, you have come off as childish to your family, and your image has been soiled rather than hers. You should have said that you were unable to get the day off work, or had an unavoidable commitment. As you said, you rarely interact with your cousin, and by coming up with a valid reason, you would only have to see them at family functions, smile politely and not interact any more than necessary.

However, that is not an option any more and you need to look at how you’re going to proceed. The fact that she has asked many family members to speak on her behalf suggests that she feels guilty and embarrassed in front of your family. I suggest you two meet for lunch or something, just the two of you, and have a frank talk. Explain why what happened still hurts you, and how you want a resolution for the sake of your cousin. If she responds in a hostile manner, then you can walk away knowing that you made the effort to put the past in the past. If she is apologetic, the you should put it behind you, and then do the polite smiles and minimal interaction at family events if that is what you desire.

The important thing you need is to think of what is good for you and your well being.

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BB-VA January 17, 2014 at 6:26 am

IMO, Lisa is still bullying the OP and has enlisted family members to help. The OP tried to decline civilly and was not allowed to do so.

It is true that the OP needs to let it go – and maybe she could let it go a lot easier if she was left alone to process things and given the chance to see for herself that Lisa has changed. Applying this kind of intense pressure by Lisa and family members that the OP respects certainly isn’t helping.

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AS January 17, 2014 at 6:27 am

I personally think the OP needs to move on. I was also bullied by numerous people at school for many years, and you know what? I don’t care anymore.

I moved 5hrs away from my home town, yet I’ve bumped into numerous people I used to go to school with, who also live here. One of the people I bumped into was a girl who physically assaulted me as a young teen.

After not seeing her for more than 15yrs, we talked and I found out she is a nice person now. She never apologised, we never brought up the past. We’ve both grown up. The people who we used to be no longer exist – the bully and the victim are both long gone.

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Shyla January 17, 2014 at 6:56 am

There is something a little off in this story. Why could the couple not accept that the OP declined the invitation. Does her cousin feel they have a closer relationship than she believes? Were other relatives involved before the original phone call, declaring that the OP is not allowed to decline? Or is Lisa continuing her behavior? I don’t find this kind of pressure normal. It’s a wedding. Some people say yes and some say no.

I find weddings to be tortuous enough to attend already. All those people. All that noise. People expecting you to be smiling all night. If I’m not truly invested emotionally in the couple then I don’t want to go. But when I send my reply properly, I expect that reply to be accepted at face value. I can’t make it and my reasons are my business.

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Sharon January 17, 2014 at 7:08 am

The summer before I entered 5th grade, my father was driving through a neighborhood and saw a little girl on her bike come down her driveway toward him. He stopped the car as she lost control of her bike and hit the side of his car, falling off her bike and breaking her collarbone. He was totally without fault in this accident. I didn’t know the girl at the time, but she was in my class that fall. The first day of school, when we were asked what we did over the summer, she got up and said “a crazy man hit me with his car and broke my collarbone.” My year went downhill from there, because she figured out who I was and tormented me every day after that. She even hit me in the face one day at recess–and she was a big girl, compared to me. My life was a living hell–I begged my mother and father to transfer me out of the school, the class, even to move out of town. Eventually my mother went to my teacher and told her what was going on, and somehow the tormenting stopped. The girl and I never were in the same class again and I HAVE moved on–literally and figuratively–but I totally understand how difficult it must be to “forgive and forget.” I think if this girl had married into my family (unlikely, since she thought my father was “a crazy man”) it would have taken me a long while to warm up to her. An apology would have helped, I suppose. But looking back now, I DID survive, I don’t think I’ve thought much about the abuse in decades. So, like the Admin and many of the other commenters, I hope you can put the hurt aside and forgive, for your sake and your family’s.

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crebj January 17, 2014 at 7:08 am

If you can’t see yourself acting well in this situation, then don’t go, and please refuse to discuss it any further. That seems to prolong the drama.

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Kirsten January 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

This being an etiquette board, how the OP feels privately is not relevant.

She broke etiquette when she told Lisa why she wasn’t coming.

Lisa broke it by pushing her for an explanation and enlisting help.

How she feels, whether she is immature etc has nothing to do with etiquette.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

How the OP feels “privately” is quite relevant since her feelings are no longer private, either to us or her family.

It was BRADY who wanted an explanation as to why she was not going to the wedding and it was BRADY who offered to pay for travel expenses under his assumption that the OP was declining due to not be able to afford to come. You and others can spin that negatively but the alternative is to believe that Brady, remembering the good relationship he and the OP had during childhood, really wanted to reconnect with his cousin and made a good faith effort , with good intentions, to make sure his cousin wasn’t hindered by finances.

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Alicia January 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

I think you should only go to weddings of couples that you are happy for them getting married. In this case I would not be happy for my cousin. I would not attend. That is very different then not being willing to see them at other family functions. But only go to weddings when you are happy for the couple.

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Vermin8 January 17, 2014 at 7:57 am

My story: I was bullied frequently but not constantly even up to my freshman year of college. I remember one girl in junior high in particular – she would say nasty things whenever she had the chance. I remember her sitting behind me at an assembly just throwing out barbs. I remember ranting in my diary.
I ran into her my senior year of college – I was visiting another friend at this school and ran into her. She came up to me and I’m feeling a bit tense and she says “Vermin! I almost didn’t recognize you! You look great!” (ok I don’t remember verbatim but this is close). Tenseness goes away and I know things are different. She was different. I was different. Life was different. I went with the new life. No, we didn’t become close friends but when I saw her at the one reunion I’ve attended I was comfortable.
Many have said that Lisa didn’t apologize and even that she lied about events in junior high. From what I’ve read forgetting about your words and actions is a very common thing for bullies (let’s be honest – who remembers everything from junior high? I barely remember last week!). So it’s possible she wasn’t lying and that the lack of the words “I’m sorry” is more due to the fact she can’t remember that for which she should be apologizing rather than not being sorry.
That great sage Stephen King once wrote in a book (Carrie, I believe) true sorrow is as rare as true love. And (these are my words) the best way to recognize it is by actions not words. Lisa has shown the action – she’s reached out. She has not repeated the behavior. If OP wouldn’t go to the wedding if the bride had been a complete stranger, then ok, I understand turning down the invitation. But if she and Brady were close, then in the end she is going to be the one who suffers by separating herself from a family with whom she once had a close relationship. Is hating Lisa worth that? I also don’t agree with the pressure from all the relatives. But you’ve said you’re refusing to go because of events more than 15 years ago. Let the past be in the past.
And OP talks about Lisa’s true colors. She is showing her true colors too. Which is worse: a 13 year old who says mean things or an adult who holds a 14+ year grudge against a 13 year old who has long since grown up?

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Susan January 17, 2014 at 8:14 am

I think the OP was fine in politely declining the invitation. I don’t think it was right for her family to pressure her to go to a wedding of a distant relative. Perhaps OP, you shouldn’t have mentioned the bullying to her, but I think that is understandable considering how you were put on the spot. Instead of folks here getting all judge-y about “moving on” and “forgive and forget” we should get back to etiquette and the power of bean dip.

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Lily January 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

This is what bullies get for being bullies.
People do not want to wish them happiness on their wedding day.
OP stand firm and don`t let toxic people into your life. Its bullies loss.
Don`t allow anyone guilt you into “being nice”. The bully gets whats coming to it.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 11:15 am

So, a late 20′s adult should be held accountable for behavior done at age 11? Hmmm…..

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Tanya January 17, 2014 at 9:04 am

Perhaps I’m coming in a little late here, but I think that while the OP may be wrong about Lisa (after all, they haven’t seen each other in over a decade, how does the OP know what Lisa’s “true colors” are now?), she is absolutely entitled to decline the wedding invitation if she sees fit. From an etiquette standpoint, the only thing she did wrong was to tell her cousin and Lisa why she did it, and I’m inclined to give her a pass on that because she was pushed– they never should’ve interrogated her about her reasons for not attending.

Some posters, along with Admin, are saying that an adult needs to learn to behave civilly around other people, even if they are boors. I couldn’t agree more. But that does not mean that we are obligated to make an effort to spend time with those boors if it can be politely avoided. As has been said repeatedly around here, an invitation is not a summons. It is not rude for the OP to decline the wedding invitation of a cousin she isn’t all that close to, particularly if she knows that if she attended, she would be causing herself emotional pain. She can’t help how she feels– why are her feelings any less important than Lisa’s?

Admin said “you are not hurting Lisa and Brady as much as you are hurting yourself.” I don’t see the OP’s refusal to attend as her way of trying to hurt them. I see it as her trying to protect herself from being hurt again. And while that may not be the best course of action overall for her personal development (I’m not going to say either way, it’s none of my business), it’s not a violation of etiquette.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

Oh, I completely disagree. The OP has now staked out her reasons for not going to the wedding and if you think that won’t negatively impact her future relationships with extended family, you would be mistaken. With every other future wedding, christening, shower, family reunion where Brady and Lisa would be invited as well, there will be this awkward tension among the family. And the OP has no reasonable evidence that she would have been “hurt again” had she attended the wedding. Was Lisa going to do something incredibly stupid in front of her new husband?

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Spike January 17, 2014 at 9:05 am

When I was a kid, I occasionally engaged in tantrums and manipulative behavior. My parents, wisely, never gave in. Lisa (and her husband-to-be, to some extent) seems to be engaging in the adult version of stamping her feet on the floor and crying loudly to get her way. I fail to see how giving her what she wants is actually in the service of helping OP “move on” from past hurts, when it seemed as if she already had, in all the ways that count. Lisa enlisting the help of OP’s relatives may be the result of her own embarrassment, but it is still frankly disturbing and manipulative behavior. If I agree with anything admin says, it’s that it doesn’t matter what Lisa did in the past right now, it matters what she is doing now – and she is broadcasting loud and clear that she is not a person with whom you want to be involved – not even for a day, and not for the sake of this cousin who is not a part of your life in any meaningful way. Boundaries are important – more important, in my estimation, than “showing Lisa” that you’ve moved on. I have let people back into my life who have hurt me when I saw they really changed, so I believe in that – but my instincts are to tell you to stick to your guns on this one, OP. You owe her nothing.

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Pocket January 17, 2014 at 9:08 am

Speaking as someone that was bullied constantly through all her school life by teachers and students alike.. I would not blame OP for not wanting to go. Then again, I come from the POV where so much as seeing one of my abusers brings on panic attacks and I have a hard time mustering up any courage at all to face them.

If I found out that my cousin was getting married to one of the kids that used to throw rocks at me and sing songs about how much everyone hated me… I would definitely not show. You’d have to drag me there. Of course, I’d give a polite reason why I could not attend but I just don’t think it’s the most rude thing ever to just hold your ground when something makes you uncomfortable and continues to do so.

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Lily January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

One more thing :

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

- Winston Churchill

Your answer is NO.

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Lerah99 January 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

Bravo admin for such a well reasoned, mature, and helpful opinion!
Also, thank you for sharing your own experiences with childhood bullying. It really helps show that your advice comes from experience.

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territorygal January 17, 2014 at 9:18 am

Here’s the thing, though. We shouldn’t have to change ourselves to “not be the victim”. The onus should be on the abusers – excuse me, “bullies” – to change their behaviour. This will never happen unless the bystanders – both adults-in-charge and peers – recognise and call out such harassment for what it is.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, though there was no such diagnosis when I was a kid. Instead, I was deemed a “weirdo”, a “spaz”, “socially inept”. I suffered from crippling undiagnosed anxiety. On top of it all, I was (and still am) gender nonconforming. Yeah, perfect recipe for being bullied in a mainstream public school. My parents told me that I had to fight back or I’d never get any respect. When I finally did, I (not the bully) was punished. I was put into a special “Life Skills Class” to learn how to “get along with my peers”. The message I received was that I brought it on myself for committing the cardinal sin of being different. By the way, I eventually succeeded at pretending to be normal in the same way that a gay person can succeed at pretending to be straight. It kills you inside. Somewhere in my thirties I finally decided to stop drinking the “Change Thyself” K0ol-Aid and embrace the perfectly good person I am. But I digress.

I like to think that I would forgive my bullies if any of them showed up and apologised. (so far, none of them have, which is fine by me) But I honestly can’t blame any bullying victim who isn’t ready to forgive. All of the OP’s reasons are a moot point. If she doesn’t want to go to the wedding, then she shouldn’t go and owes no one an explanation. Period.

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Elizabeth January 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

Whether you do or do not go to this wedding, you really need to get over this. The length of this letter and the remembrance of every hurtful detail is very startling. You are still carrying this around with you? Your mistake was not sticking to ‘I can’t make it’ (repeat as necessary) and providing a reason; now the whole family is looking at you oddly. And Brady really didn’t say much when you said why you were not coming because he was shocked to learn that you’re still so hung up on this ‘trauma’ – not because he’s seeing Lisa’s ‘true colors.’

Clearly you cannot attend because of your attitude. Unfortunately you’ve now shared with the family why you are not coming, and this reflects poorly on you. You’ve made a mess of this by explaining and now it is too late to back up to “I cannot attend” without explanation. Oy!! Sit this out and hope this goes quiet.

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Kristi January 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

This submission really resonates with me, I too was bullied, although it was by a group of ‘mean girls’ rather than just a single person. All of these years later and those memories still have the power to make me sick to my stomach if I dwell on them too long. It was the single most traumatic experience of my life and the emotional scars it left have followed me into adulthood – despite counseling and other steps I’ve taken. What some posters don’t seem to understand is that everyone is different, everyone has a different capacity to heal, or move on, and also that it’s perfectly possible to lead a normal life even if there are some unresolved issues floating around in your head. It may not be possible for OP to forgive and forget, nor does this situation specifically call for it as she’s not close to the cousin in question and has no desire to attend this wedding anyway. I would guess that the other family members who got involved to try to coerce her into attending the wedding probably have no real idea what this girl did to OP or what sort of damage it caused. Anyone who is lambasting the OP to grow up, or quit holding a grudge, or whatever is clearly not understanding where she’s at with this, and it’s cruel, in my opinion, to chastise her for how she feels. OP – you have no obligation to attend this wedding, appease these people, explain yourself further or engage in any other way.

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Wendy B. January 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

I know I’m a bit late to the party but…
One of the girls I didn’t get along with in high school married my cousin. Yes, indeed. A cousin whose mother I am friends with, but whom I see rarely. When mom gushes, I just smile and nod. She has asked me about when we were in school together and I’ve just said, “We weren’t friends at that time.” and moved on.
I think following your instincts and not going was a good move…nothing worse than stress during an already stressful event. The mistake was, of course, telling them the story and then PUSHING her to admit it. Simply saying, “I just can’t make it, that won’t be possible” and leaving it at that, repeat as needed. Later you could have felt the waters and seen if she really has changed…some people do. Another girl I couldn’t stand in school friended me on Facebook and I took a chance…and I’m glad I did. We both grew up. We’re not bosom buddies, but we can talk. Conversely, another close HS friend has changed so much in the opposite direction I hope not only to continue dodging him on FB but also pray we don’t run into each other when he comes home!

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Erin January 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

Let’s remove the backstory and look at the facts: OP was invited to a wedding. She RSVP’s that she would not attend. The bride then harassed her into giving a reason why, then got the rest of the family to pressure OP into attending. At what point is OP in the wrong here?

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admin January 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

Nope, actually it was Brady who continued to press her for a reason why she was declining and it was Brady who went so far as to offer the OP money for travel expenses if that was the reason he suspected why she was declining. And I suspect it was also Brady who enlisted his mother, aunt and grandmother to talk to the OP. Reread the submission….the OP had a good relationship with her cousin throughout childhood and it was interrupted with college. Brady appears to want to reconnect with his cousin and weddings are great occasions to do that. I would err on the side of believing Brady had good intentions in wanting to make sure his cousin really did not want to attend his wedding when the alternative is a complete disinterest in whether a family member comes or not.

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ally January 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Admin, respectfully, I did reread the submission. The OP used the pronoun “they” to refer to being asked why she wasn’t going, and being offered travel arrangements.

“Brady & Lisa called a few nights ago and wanted to know why I wasn’t coming to their wedding. They really wanted all the family to come and be with them. I said I just couldn’t make it. They kept pressing and pressing. They even went so far as to say that they would pay for me to come if money was the problem (it’s not- I just do not like her), so I finally decided to tell them and remind Lisa exactly what she had done to me.”

I’m sure we would all like to think the best of the couple, and maybe Brady does want to reconnect with the cousin he hasn’t seen in 5 years. But from the published story, nowhere does it say Brady was the one doing the asking.

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Red Cat January 17, 2014 at 10:07 am

I am shocked at the number of people telling the OP to get over it, and that the OP should go to the wedding. OP, you are an adult and no one can force you to go to a function you don’t want to attend. This does not mean that you are wallowing – instead, you are setting healthy boundaries and not letting toxic people gain a foothold in your life.

You politely declined their invitation, that should have been the end of the story. Instead of respecting your wishes, L&B tried to coerce you and second guess your reasons for not attending in a very tacky way (suggesting you couldn’t afford to go). When that didn’t work they enrolled other family members into the drama to try and manipulate you into changing your mind. You initially tried to be discreet and not mention the earlier bullying, in the end it was Lisa’s current behaviour that made you come clean, so don’t feel bad for being honest about the reasons you don’t want to attend.

Lisa is still a bully, and has shown the lengths she will go to to get her way. I’m glad you called her behaviour what it is, as people like Lisa often rely on other’s desire to be nice and family pressure to keep the peace. Generally I am all for keeping the peace (I have a large, fractious family, and am often called upon to act as family diplomat), however, bullying should never be tolerated. We have zero-tolerance policies in schools and workplaces, so why are families exempt?

I think you need a script for people who urge you to give in to Lisa’s bullying, manipulative behaviour: “I have declined their invitation and wished them well. Lisa and Brady have shown they cannot respect my decision which reinforces my belief that my original response was the right one.” Be very clear, do not apologise and repeat ‘I don’t wish to discuss the matter any further’ as many times as needed.

If they trot out the ‘oh but they’re faaaaaamily’ line, look them in the eye and say “I don’t believe in rewarding behaviour that I feel is disrespectful. I would like your support in standing up for something I strongly believe in”. Once again repeat ‘I don’t wish to discuss the matter any further’ as many times as needed.

Remember, this is no longer about Lisa’s behaviour when you were children – if you choose to forgive her that’s great, but it doesn’t mean her she gets a free pass on the appalling behaviour she exhibits as an adult. I know family pressure can be extremely difficult to resist, I wish you well in standing up to bullies wherever you encounter them!

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Rebecca January 17, 2014 at 10:12 am

I see that the Admin admits to having been bullied as a child, but I also see she doesn’t acknowledge that the scars left when one does not receive the help she did can linger much longer and cause more lasting harm. I’m thrilled for the Admin that she received help, but OP did not. Her situation is different, and as someone who was bullied to the point of being suicidal, for which I never received help, I can empathize with the OP.

OP was well within her rights to decline the invitation. She avoided stating her true reason several times until she was pushed into it by a cousin she rarely sees, and a woman she has every reason to loathe. Yes, she should have said she had another commitment that day that she could not get out of, but she isn’t the one who not only initiated the conversation, but pushed it far beyond the boundaries or appropriateness. Had Lisa behaved as an adult in the first place – by accepting OP’s decline – the situation would have been avoided. As it was, Lisa called the OP, with her future husband on the line, fully aware of how uncomfortable she makes OP, and pushed her into admitting something she clearly didn’t want to admit. So although OP should have simply stated that she had another commitment and left it at that, it was Lisa who bullied her (again) into admitting something best left lie. Some bullies never change, and it’s clear Lisa is one of them. She isn’t even a member of the family yet and is already causing trouble. I can only imagine how much “fun” she’s going to have once she’s a full-fledged family member.

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remi January 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

OP, perhaps you should finally give in and RSVP to show up….then never go. It’s not the polite thing, but harassing guests until they finally agree to go to an event they very clearly said they didn’t want to go to isn’t the polite thing, either. It might get you a few months of peace, at the very least.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 10:31 am

Oh, that’s lovely. Encouraging the OP to be deceitful.

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Cat January 17, 2014 at 10:29 am

I am amazed that there are so many of us who were bullied. I thought I was in a very small minority. We should start a club. We could have tee shirts.
As to your problem. The wicked part of me says go to the wedding and, when asked if you remember the blushing bride, reply, “No, but I do remember forgetting her.” or, “Yes, and I always say nice things about her, no matter what anyone else says.”
The nice part of me says, ” Talk to her. If she seems to have changed and is sorry for the damage she did to you, forgive her, go to the wedding, and damp down the family drama.”
The practical part of me says, “You have not even seen this cousin in five years. He can get married without you being there.”
Your family has no business ganging up on you. It’s the same problem that you had in middle school-no support- and the bully is now seen as your victim. Some wounds are too deep to heal naturally and having people telling you to ‘get over it’ doesn’t help.
Anger has to be expressed. The trick is to find a way to do it without harming yourself or others. Write a letter to the bully, telling her just how you feel, and then burn it. Every time you find yourself thinking about her, turn off that little tape recorder in your brain. She did it to you for four years; you can do it to yourself by remembering it your whole life.

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Teresa January 17, 2014 at 10:35 am

Sorry, but I disagree with the Admin. When an invitation is issued, the invitee’s responsibility is to RSVP as attending or not. The OP chose not to attend and RSVP’d to that effect. It was extremely rude of the couple to browbeat the OP to determine the exact reason she declined the invitation. Between that and the fact that Lisa called three of the OP’s family members and enlisted their help in trying to persuade the OP to attend, I’m led to believe that Lisa hasn’t changed her behavior very much at all. The OP is not close to her cousin (has not seen him in years) and, in reality, her absence will be barely noticed by the bridal couple. Lisa has made no attempt to make amends and it isn’t the OP’s sole responsibility to build a relationship (where none exists). IMO, the OP should just tell anyone who asks, “I’m sorry, but I have other plans that day. I’d love to see all of the family on another day.”

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admin January 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

I have to disagree with the characterization of “browbeating” for an explanation for a invitation declination. On two occasions we have had family decline to attend family events and upon further inquiry (browbeating for those who appear to cast everything in a negative manner) discovered that it was an issue of not being able to afford the travel expenses. On both occasions we offered to pay those travel expenses and both times the offer was happily accepted. I don’t see it as any different than offering a bed in your home for out of town family that just cannot afford a hotel but are too discreet to come right out and say it lest it appear to be presumptuous on their hosts.

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Molly January 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

While I agree that it would be ideal for the OP to leave the past behind and realize that Lisa might have changed, I think that it is fine to require an apology from Lisa. Certainly, the OP should not expect an intense groveling session from Lisa, but desiring that Lisa give a simple but genuine apology is not unreasonable. When Lisa refuses to accept blame, it trivializes the OP’s feelings and possibly even “gaslights” her. Why would the OP want to associate with people who seem to have no consideration for her feelings? For that matter, why does Lisa want the OP to come but (apparently) refuses to apologize? If we consider that the OP could be over dramatizing trivial past events or even outright lying, then why would Lisa and Brady want the OP to attend!?

On this website, I’ve often heard the idea of “shunning” mentioned as an appropriate response to rudeness. To cite another post, “So, what does appropriate scorn and shunning look like? The ‘persona non grata’ approach is the most serious form of censure that treats the accused as if they did not exist. ” Though this situation does not need the “most serious form of censure,” the OP is merely avoiding Lisa, not pretending she doesn’t exist. How many times on this site has advice been given along the lines of leaving events if people refuse to change bad behavior, declining invites to “gift grabs”, refusing to play along with “gimmies,” etc.? Learning to be civil in a public situation should be OP’s goal, but I don’t feel her behavior so far is any less civil than these avoidance tactics.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

So, we must demand that others execute good manners and behavior before we ourselves engage in good manners and behavior?

And the shunning of rude people you mention is in reference to people who are rude in the here and now, not 14 years ago. There was nothing in Brady or Lisa’s invitation to a wedding that justified shunning them.

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Janet January 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

I was picked on at times during my schools and many times isolated due to the way I dressed, did my hair, made good grades, paid attention in class, and my personality (more introverted).
At my 10 year school reunion, a few of the guys that ignored me in high school looked at me strange and surprised when they asked me if I was married – keep in mind they never gave me the time of day in high school in favor of the prettier/outgoing girls.
A few of those who ignored or picked on me came as well, only one of them came up to me and asked forgiveness after saying to me that I did not deserve the treatment at all. I forgave her and we talked for a while after that but have lost touch but what she said that night is remembered.

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Jazzgirl205 January 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

One is never free unless they forgive. I was made miserable in school until college. Do you want Lisa to play that significant a role in your life? Go to the wedding. Many family members you love will be there – possibly some older members you may never see again.

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Cat January 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

Admin-How am I encouraging the OP to be deceitful? Sarcastic remarks that do not address the problem itself are just another form of bullying.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 11:37 am

If you were the one advising the OP to RSVP “yes” to attending the wedding with the intention of never going, you are encouraging her to be deceitful. This isn’t rocket science. Telling someone you will do X but have no intention of doing X is lying.

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Rod January 17, 2014 at 11:27 am

The reactions to this topic are very interesting to me.

I have recently dealt with people that I’ve had fallen out in the past. In some cases I patched things up. In others I didn’t. To me, it’s not about being the “bigger person”, or “forget and forgive”. In fact, for the last one, screw it. I have a very transactional view of relationships – foster those that bring positive things in my life, limit or sever those that don’t. How you define “positive” is a different item – and very personal. If the positives of a relationship don’t outweigh the negatives, why bother? Even if the issues are yours and uniquely subjective, you’re still allowed to decide to limit your interaction with people that make you unhappy. The guy in “L’etranger” would have been better off if his dislike for a particular person would have been addressed by removing himself from the situation as opposed to choosing confrontation, no?

If I had such strong feelings towards Lisa, I’d simply declined and moved on. No explanation. Why would I enter a protracted discussion with my family over issues that are clearly mine?

My dad and my maternal grandfather had a massive fallout over business (record is not verbatim, but I think it was my GF’s fault since he wanted breached some trust to wrest the company from my dad). They never patched up. They were always civil during family functions and cordial, but my dad never put himself again in a position of vulnerability with this specific group of people. That is smart.

Did that mean declining some business opportunities, vacations, and some family time? You betcha. But on the other hand, despite their differences I grew under the loving attentions of both a dad and a grandfather. If these two persons were less rational, a major family schism would have followed. My point is – you’re not mandated to like your family, but you should still treat them as such since it is hard to “divorce” a cousin.

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Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

>So, a late 20?s adult should be held accountable for behavior done at age 11? Hmmm…..

At times, yes.

My former neighbor’s son repeatedly exposed himself at age 8-11 to whoever was available and gave other (younger) kids candy to take off their clothes for him. We don’t live there anymore, but if we were to come into contact again, I would not let him be around my young boys, even if he’s 50.

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Jo January 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

Unfortunately, in this particular case, choosing not to attend Lisa’s wedding also means not attending Cousin Brady’s. How close is the LW to her cousin? That may also make a difference here. But, overall, it’s not exactly as though the LW is going to Lisa’s house to hang out one on one with her. Most weddings are pretty big, at least big enough to get lost in the crowd, and on her big day the bride is going to be all over the place. Personally, I would not miss my cousin’s wedding — if for no other reason than to keep peace in the family! — simply because I wasn’t BFFs with his bride. And, as mentioned, these are grudges from FIFTH GRADE! For all the LW knows, Lisa may be an entirely different person at this point in life.

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Molly January 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

“Brady & Lisa called a few nights ago and wanted to know why I wasn’t coming to their wedding. They really wanted all the family to come and be with them. I said I just couldn’t make it. They kept pressing and pressing. ”

I read this as both Brady and Lisa wanted the explanation, pressed her, and offered money. I would understand that to mean they are presenting a united front.

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