I'll keep the explanation brief but I'm an 18 year old girl who had a pretty traumatic past. My parents were both alcoholics, and my father, although he was present for my life, didn't really take up the whole "father" role, if that makes sense. This will become important later.
My cousin... He's a few years older than me and we've always had this sort of connection, of sorts. It was always PERFECTLY innocent, he and I were two of the most intelligent of the cousins, we both had the same sarcastic kind of humor... we just sorta "got" each other, all through our youth.
It sounds goofy, but he was our gardener. Let me explain. Our house had a crazy gopher infestation, and he, being 16 or 17 at the time, was eager to earn a few bucks, and had a knack for gardening. My mom would pay him to come over and help us. Remember how I said that my childhood trauma would become important? Well, my cousin was my stability through most of it. Where most if not all of my male representatives in my life had failed me, he was what "normal" was. Him being around the house so often made me feel safe, like I was protected. Kinda stupid in hindsight, considering we were both children, but hey. I think my crush started way back then.
Our family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc, do NOT gather all that often. But when we do, we are just so drawn to each other. Thanksgivings, while the rest of the family would be in the kitchen talking and drinking, you know, having general merriment... we'd be in the living room, talking, or sitting in silence. It was that kind of thing where even if we weren't talking, you could tell that we were comfortable enough just being around each other. Particularly last Thanksgiving, there was a point where I felt comfortable enough to finally talk to him about all the crazy crap that happened when I was young with my parents and the abuse. I felt safe. And he listened, told me how strong I was and how I hadn't deserved to go through all of it alone. I felt SO safe, and warm, like I was finally home. And that's something that's so hard for me to feel, it's impossible to ignore.
Now, here's the thing about my cousin. He's a man of very few emotions, or, at least, he doesn't show them very often. But even all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents know that he's always been very protective of me. We tend to read each other's emotions like a book. We were both raised in a pretty straight-laced, Christian environment and are both still of the faith, and because of this, cousin/cousin relationships are pretty taboo. I know chances are that he doesn't feel the same way about me. But I think that I DO harbor some pretty serious feelings for him.
These feelings became pretty evident, actually, when I met up with my mother a few weeks ago. We had gotten lunch, and I talked about my cousin and how I was so glad that he had been there for me through the hard times, something like that. My mom said, and I quote, "(Cousin's name) is a great man. Really. What a shame that he's your cousin." And my heart stopped. My first thought was "Sh*t! She found me out!" Then I started thinking, "Wait a minute, is that her way of giving support?" And that's really the incident that led me to questioning my feelings and finally ending up at this point, writing this post. Here I am. In love with my cousin. And I'm confused, alone, and scared.
I have a lot of questions that hopefully those in this community could help me answer. For the longest time I had tried to push down these feelings, so forgive me if my questions sound a bit obvious or whatever.
Is there any way to gauge whether the cousin in question returns these feelings?
Is this something that would be easier to ignore and forget about?
Are the whole "cousin couples are bad because genetic deformities happen in their children" thing really as severe as people say?
Is there something wrong with me?
Thank you guys in advance for your responses, I really hope to hear from some of you. Any advice is appreciated.