• Wed, Sep 26 2012

Big Girl Badge: Telling Her To Leave

This is a reader submission for our Big Girl Badge week. Tell us how you evolved from woman-child to woman, and you could win hundreds of dollars of prizes! (Send your 800 word submissions to Jennifer [at] thegloss.com or Ashley [at] thegloss.com) 

I think knowing how to say “no” is an imperative part of being a grown woman. Just as important is knowing when you’re exhausted and, more or less, telling someone “Bitch, you gotta go”. Which is what I did. And goddamn, if it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

My little cousin, Leslie, is one of my dearest friends. We were genetically designed BFF’s. So, when Leslie ended up pregnant I felt like it was my responsibility as the big cousin to take control. I invited her to stay with me for as long as she needed while we… took care of the situation. Leslie still lives in the small town we grew up in while I – the sophisticated big city girl of the family – live a good 200 miles away. I thought this would be easier for her.

To make a very long and exhausting story slightly shorter – I have never seen someone act like such a child about a situation in my life.

I realized that, no, Leslie and I were not as similar as I had previously thought. While we both may share an undying love for bad reality TV, 90’s hip hop & boys with British accents, I cannot understand how someone who was so recklessly grownup getting herself in this situation could act so childlike while getting herself out of it.

I understand it was emotional. I do. She was dealing with issues that I simply can’t wrap my head around. Hormonal birth control is basically my religion, so I’ve never even so much as had a pregnancy scare. I kept telling myself that I didn’t know what she was going through, but sobbing in the lobby of a woman’s clinic, refusing to let anyone take your blood and stomping your feet and holding your breath any time one of the clinic’s counselors tried to talk to you are not the reactions of a grown woman to any situation.

After the abortion, things got worse. Leslie began to look for work swearing she was never going home. In the mean time I was footing the bills, buying the groceries, and found myself essentially dealing with a child. A child who smokes and drinks enough to put any of the Mad Men characters to shame.

Her mood changes were more than I could deal with. Some days I’d come home from work and she’d be crying. Other days she’d bolt up in a frenzy; “Let’s go downtown. Let’s go downtown, NOW”. Leslie’s occupation of my 580 square foot apartment was the most emotionally draining weeks of my life. Not only because of the mood swings and the drama with the men in her life, but seeing someone you love going through these issues can really take toll on your own relationships and productivity.

Oh, did I mention I held her hand? During the procedure, that is. I feel like that should be mentioned. I don’t mean emotionally or figuratively. I mean I physically held her hand while she was having her abortion. You don’t know emotional toll until you look into the terrified eyes of someone shaking and gripping your hand for dear life, and remember how you used to hold her hand walking home from school when you were 13 and they were 9.

Finally, one Tuesday afternoon while sobbing “I just want my mom” into my shoulder… I told her to go. Go. Go, go, go, go, go! “Go see your mother!” Since she had no money, I offered to fill her gas tank for her. She went on to say that she would return in a couple of days and that she would see if she could get some money and that….

“No. No. You have to go. You have to go and you have to stay gone.” That is not exactly what I said, but I believe the subtext was delivered just as well.

While forcibly removing her from my home wasn’t exactly the best thing for our current relationship, it was the best thing ultimately. I can’t speak for Leslie, but this was a growing experience for me. A woman needs to know when to say enough is enough. And I certainly wasn’t helping her grow up by coddling her and telling her it was all alright when it clearly wasn’t. And with time, we’ll have our old relationship back. We’ll get back to where we were. We have to. It’s genetics. It’s science. We taught grandma to Dougie and create more private jokes every day. That time just isn’t the immediate present.

But, I still think I did the right thing.

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  • Katy

    “I read it. I love your writing, even on a very bad subject. I am so proud of you – and not just for getting your big girl badge!” — a quote from my mamma when I sent her this. Even big girls love props from moms!

  • uhmmm

    I don’t like this one at all. You can be religious with your birth control, just like I was, be in a relationship, like I was, get pregnant, like I did, and need an abortion. And until you’ve had an abortion, you have no idea how much it sucks. I know plenty of people actually feel relieved afterwards (I did, too) but for me at least it was a life changing experience. My WHOLE LIFE I knew I would get one if I had an unwanted pregnancy, but when it actually happened it was truly heartbreaking. Seeing kids on the street would put me in tears. Honestly, kicking her out was the. worst. thing you could have done. I was lucky to have a supportive family, a supportive boyfriend, and supportive friends…but it still took over a year to fully heal, and I still think about it at least once a day. Everyone reacts to these situations differently…I think it’s pretty heartless to have kicked her out like that when she was crying on your shoulder. She probably felt more alone than she ever had in her life. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I felt, and still feel sometimes. You shouldn’t have taken her in if you couldn’t handle it, it’s an emotional experience no matter which way you slice it. How lame of you. I think you would get a big girl badge if you had supported her in her time of need and realized that her mood swings/craziness were signs that she just was not okay. It’s pretty harsh to say “grow up” when someone is going through something so intense.

  • katy

    whoa whoa whoa whoa, & whoa.
    I feel you’ve missed my point. & I’m sorry for that.
    Perhaps I could have supported her emotionally longer if I could have supported her financially, but in that time that Leslie was living with me I honestly felt like a single mother. Just my child was an adult.
    It honestly hurts my heart when I read “how lame of you”, but you don’t know’ my life just as I don’t know yours.
    So, it’s fine. It’s fine. We’re good. Let’s go grab drinks sometime & hash it over.
    But over all, my thesis statement- if you will in- this essay is that I was doing her no favors. She was living in arrested development sleeping on my couch going nowhere & I was going broke- both emotionally & financially.
    I have known 4 women that are close to me that have had abortions (that I know of! ) & they all deal with it differently & they all arrived there differently. I handled the situation the best way that I knew it needed to be handled knowing the person their entire life.
    You don’t know leslie. You don’t know her life & she doesn’t know yours. Y’all should grab a drink & hash it out sometimes.
    But it was for the best. I promise you. I spoke to her about this essay earlier today. We’re good. We’re at a good place
    I hope you’re at peace with your decisions.
    We are.

  • a bit of perspective

    I feel like uhmmm is being a bit harsh here. I don’t think Katy was saying ‘I had to kick my cousin out of my apartment because she sucks and I couldn’t handle it.’ That’s a big stretch. I’m sorry that you (uhmmm) went through that. That’s something that I can’t imagine and I know must be horribly difficult, and I agree that everyone deals with it differently. But I also agree with Katy. I think she did the right thing, but it was by no means easy, I’m sure. People sometimes forget that these kinds of situations affect everyone around them, too, and in different ways. I don’t think Katy was kicking her cousin out on the street or leaving her high and dry. She wasn’t even planning on her cousin moving in permanently, it sounds. That didn’t seem like the plan at all.

    Yes. Her cousin needed help. She needed support. She needed someone to be there. And Katy was there for her. And still is.

    But after weeks, she also needed someone to remind her that she’s an adult and at some point you have to keep moving. You have to. That’s the hardest thing for me personally (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this). Sometimes I need someone to be honest and tell me “Shut up. You got this. Go do it.” And it sounds like that’s exactly what Katy’s cousin needed, too.

    That all being said, it’s never easy being that person giving the truth and the advice that is never easy to hear. So I can definitely see why this would be a turning point for Katy.