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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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Guest stacksofcats

How to get over guilt and shame

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Hi,

I'm new here and I can't explain how much this website has helped me already. Before finding it I had no idea there were so many people with the same situation. It really helps make you feel "normal" again. Like I'm not crazy for feeling the way I do

My cousin and I grew up about and hour away from each other so I saw him often when we were kids (we're 22 now and our Moms are sisters). Then I moved literally across the street from his family while I was in college. We're only 6 months apart and have always been close, some sort of connection that I can't really explain. He just understands me better than anyone else can and feels the same about me. He's the perfect person for me and I'm quite sure neither of us will ever find anyone else that even remotely compares.

My question is mostly about how to deal with the feelings of guilt and shame that we both have. We've both done our research and realize that there isn't any real concrete evidence that there is anything wrong at all with cousins being together. We are going to have to research having biological children in depth but other than that, cousin marriage seems to be just a social stigma. But none of that logic changes the emotional "gut" feeling we both have that it's wrong.

We haven't told anyone in our family yet. We've only just come to the conclusion that staying together is worth the risk of being alienated by friends and family. That was not an easy thing to decide since we're both very much family oriented people.

Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this? We were planning on going with LadyC's letter and modifying it to suit our family but other than that we're just feeling worried that people won't understand.

It's true what they say, you can't choose who you love.

Thanks guys!

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and you're right, people may very well NOT understand. but if i were you, i'd try to get past your feelings of guilt and shame before telling the family. those feelings are from years of being brainwashed by social stigma and misconceptions. you didn't say how long the two of you have been seeing each other, but if the two of you will just continue acting as a normal couple, you'll begin feeling like a normal couple. go out together in public. introduce each other as your boyfriend or girlfriend. stop thinking of each other as cousins, and definitely don't introduce yourself to strangers or acquaintances as cousins. be proud of each other, and let your joy and pride for each other show to others. when you do those things, it will erode the stigma that is still stuck in the backs of your minds.

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Yeah, I think you're definitely right that we should get past those feelings ourselves before we tell anyone. How can we expect them to accept it if we're still struggling with it? The more firm we are with our feelings, the better it will be for everyone. It's just hard to overcome years of thinking it's wrong in one fell swoop.

As far as acting like a normal couple, when we're not around family members we definitely do. Out in public I think it's clear to most people how we feel about each other. We've talked about it and being out together is our favorite time because we don't have to hide.

I like your idea about introducing each other as boyfriend/girlfriend to new people. We hadn't been doing that previously because we were still sort of in limbo as to where our relationship was headed. Doing that kind of thing will definitely help us get over the "cousin" thing.

As for pride and joy in him, I'm not ashamed at all to show that. I couldn't hide it if I tried.

Thanks so much for your help. This has been emotionally draining for me and it's so nice to have support :)

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I have a same problem, We've had to rethink as in India. it would turnout to be a big issue for our families, but offcourse we've accepted our love and we've had a little bit of intimacy too, no issues love is love and hope everything turns out good for you.. good luck  :cheesy:

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stacksofcats:

Five years ago I was the one that let guilt and shame interfere in a relationship with my 1st cousin.  We have had mutual feelings of attraction for each other since we were kids (we are now in our 40's), but 5 years ago a real opportunity presented itself for us to act on our feelings - I allowed shame to interfere, He was the one who said that there was no shame in how we felt - I just wasn't ready to accept that.  We have now been together for 7 months. 

Sometimes we worry that family will not accept our relationship with a cousin and then are surprised by how accepting they are of it.  That was the case for me, and for my cousin.  Now, I know nothing about your family and maybe they are stubborn and judgmental and will completely cut you out of the family.  That case is not likely.  Perhaps it will take them time to accept the two of you - and that's OK.  Most family members eventually come around when they see that you are happy.  Since I am forty - cough cough - something - I am at a point in my life where I don't really care about what other people think.  This relationship I'm in is good for me - great for me - and anyone who wants to interfere in my pursuit of happiness can go jump in a lake.  But I'm a bit older than you.... And at 22 I'm sure I would not have had the chutzpah to pursue this relationship with my cousin.

Don't make the same mistake I made.  If this  relationship with your cousin is good for you, then go for it.  Don't let other people make life decisions for you.  YOU are the one who has to live YOUR life - your mom, dad, aunt, grandma, sister, don't get to decide the course of your life.  LadyC is absolutely right that the two of you need to get past your own guilt and shame before telling the family.  If there is even a remnant of guilt or shame surrounding your cousin relationship, you will not have the stamina to endure any family drama.  Besides, what couple can withstand the normal ups and downs of any relationship if one or both of the parties involved feel guilt and shame about it? 

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