On top of the fact that I had insufficient funds to continue my next semester in college (my grandma ended up paying the entire $1,817.04, begrudgingly), my younger sister and I uncovered something rather scandalous in my mother’s life.
One day, my sister was snooping through my mother’s cellphone. My sister has little regard for my mother, let alone other people… not necessarily out of sheer selfishness, but rather because we have both been betrayed so many times by so many people, including my mother. At the time, I honestly didn’t care. But she stumbled across some… unsavory text messages between my mom and our uncle.
This uncle isn’t technically our uncle; he’s my mom’s cousin’s husband. Confused yet? Good. The point is is that he is not related by blood. He is an actor, having just landed his first really big gig a little over a year ago in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. My mom’s cousin, and his wife, are best friends.
If it isn’t painfully obvious already, these were not regular, innocent text messages. They were sexts. Each one of them going back and forth about how “hot and bothered ;)” they were, asking to send pictures of “that face, those breasts!” My sister had a better look at them than I did, but we honestly had no desire to see much more than that, and nothing more had to be seen. In that moment, we inherited a large, destructive, damnable secret. The question was then: what do we do?
Since it was very close to Christmas, we decided to hold off on telling anyone until after the holiday season. We didn’t know who to go to, anyway. Approaching my mom about it wouldn’t have worked; we would have just been attacked for compromising her privacy. Telling our aunt, her best friend, his wife, about the whole thing was another bad idea — that would ruin not one, but two families… including ours. I thought about just texting my uncle on my own, saying something along the lines of: I saw those text messages. You have such a great family and a great life; I don’t want you to ruin that.
In the end, I told my grandmother. My grandma (the very same who paid for the remainder of my tuition recently) has always been one of the only people I could talk to within my family. To me, she’s always been the level-headed, objective figure who — through her years — had developed a maturity beyond everyone else’s. I thought that maybe taking it to her, it would be handled correctly. Maturely. Appropriately.
I was wrong.
Turns out that my grandma had already had a feeling my mom was doing something like that. My aunt decided not too long ago to move back to New York from California — but only for half a year. They would be going back and forth, she and her four children. Sounds like a hassle, no? Taking your kids from their school to NYC, having this happen twice a year? She speculated that perhaps my aunt had caught wind of something, or had a feeling that her husband, my uncle, was up to something.
It didn’t seem at all implausible. When my mom drove to La Guardia Airport to pick up my stepdad (whom she is on bad terms with; he cheated on her with 11 women and she will never forgive him for it, even though he’s getting help and trying), she had him drop her off in the city so she could go party; he would have to drive the rest of the way back home, alone. My sister told me that my mom said she didn’t know if she’d be staying the night in NYC or not that night… which raised some red flags. She later revealed that she had, in fact, met up with my uncle that night.
In addition to this new development, my grandma was angry that she had to spend her retirement money to pay for my college fees. She wasn’t mad at me, she was mad at my mom, who had the nerve to lie and say she wasn’t getting any child support payments from my dad. Just two of those ~$800 payments would have made a huge difference.
So, after I had left New York and returned to school in Georgia, my grandma assembled my aunt (a different one, my mom’s actual sister) and my uncle (my mom’s actual brother) to confront my mother about the situation. They weren’t trying to back her into a corner or anything; just coming to her as a family. But it all backfired horribly. In the midst of the arguing, my mother mentioned something about this aunt’s husband apparently being kissed by a family friend. And with that, she successfully turned the tides and switched the spotlight onto my other uncle.
This is getting a little confusing. My family is larger than the average, and I wish I could use real names. Please bear with me.
I received a slew of angry texts from my mom not long after about the whole ordeal, saying that next time I come to her first, that there was no affair, and that I was not to respond to my grandma or my aunt should they try to contact me. I ended up calling my grandma of my own volition about a week after to learn all of this and more.
Apparently, my aunt is now going crazy. Outraged at her husband for not telling her about the family friend coming onto him, she is threatening to leave him. And all I can think is that I left my family with it whole and intact; now it is is complete shambles. And I can’t help feeling like some of that is my fault. And all I can think about is the kids. My poor cousins, my poor siblings. I’ve been through all of this before, more or less. These things… regardless of how young they are, and how many specific memories they forget, the feeling of total despair never goes away. And I can personally vouch for this statement. I can’t recall specific events, but there lingers terrible remnants of hopelessness and loneliness that still make my stomach knot.
And I think about them, how they are the least deserving things in the world for this sort of thing. My little brother and sister had just earned a fun family, and now they’ve already lost them. All because I decided to go to my grandmother.
My mother still insists that both my aunt and my stepdad are aware of her “activities” with my uncle. I have never heard my grandmother sound so ragged and miserable before.