The Vine: February 10, 2017
Hey girls hey (and boys). Been a while, eh what?
Couple of little Viney admin things before I get to today's letter, the first of which is that today's letter is quite elderly, i.e., the bridezilla in question is married already, but that's because of the second thing, to wit, I have a backlog of…one letter. So, send in your questions! Now's a great time in history to get the readers' help with stuff like your feelings of political overwhelm, whether it's how to make a difference or how to not kill your alt-right family; critical reading for Black History Month (or graphic novels to take your mind off shit); why that cable-knit hat looks like a tea-kettle cover (asking for a friend!) (named Buntsy); you name it.
And you still get loot! I got stickers; I got rubber bracelets; I got shirts.
And now, today's weddiquette bidness.
My sister is getting married in July. To be honest, I've had some issues in the past few years. In the first part, my family can be very abusive. I managed to graduate from college at 22 (standard four years) with good grades, 40 hours per week full time jobs and multiple leadership positions. Upon graduation I was recruited (didn't find, I was actively recruited) for good positions, which I did well in. However, I became increasingly depressed and manic. I went to my doctor often with my concerns for over two years, and he treated it with antidepressants. Turns out when you're bipolar, straight antidepressants can cause manic behavior. Once I got a correct diagnosis three years of hell later, I always followed medication protocol and attended my doctor's appointments.
I was guilty of a DUI during this period, and it was devastating. I'm glad no one but myself was hurt, but at the same time I'm upset that my immediate family didn't want anything to do with me or to help me. To the point that I ended up in a domestic violence shelter because when I called for help they asked, "Isn't there a state program to help you?"
So I've been slowly rebuilding my life but I don't want to go to this wedding. When I first went to rehab I lent my sister my laptop because she didn't have one, and I thought it might be nice for her to have it for three months. When I got it back her fiancé had labeled all of my documents in a folder called "'name's shit." Thanks, asshole.
And she was passive-aggressive about her engagement. She did call me to ask if I wanted to go on a snowboarding trip with her. I said that since I didn't snowboard, let's pick a different trip we can both enjoy together. Three days later I got a video message with my parents, family, and all of her friends there for her engagement at a ski chalet. I would have made the time and financial sacrifice (remember, I lived 400 miles away with a disability pension) if she had been honest. It might have ruined the surprise but seriously?! She knew what was going on.
So when she got engaged she asked me to be her maid of honor. How nice, right? Except within two months she told me that because I'm bipolar she can't trust me to be in the wedding. So now I'm not even a bridesmaid, I'm just a guest. I asked for a plus one, so I can have someone to be on Team Me, and even that was a struggle. So here I am.
Can I just show up for the ceremony (which is the day after Fourth of July, which affects my holiday plans)? I know that skipping it altogether is a bad idea, so I can handle the ceremony but really don't want to stay for the reception. So do I tell her in advance? Plus I really don't want to be in any photos. I'm actually quite shy, and not willing to make myself be photographed for an occasion that seems tailor-made to screw me over.
I'll keep an eye out to answer any additional questions, but I think this covers the basics. I've always loved The Vine, and would appreciate the advice. Help?
PS I'd also like to add that I'm having abandonment issues because I missed a therapist appointment due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I didn't know that was a real thing, but according to the doctors I could have died. I was hospitalized for three days, and I remember very little of it.
My therapist cancelled all further appointments, even though in the last two years I've made every appointment. So I'm having some rage issues. Just thought I should add that, it's emotionally useful.
If I've learned anything in the last month, it's that not everyone experiences shame, or compassion for others, the same way I do or the same way I've gotten used to most of the people around me doing. The current leadership of our once-fine nation could not care less if it's perceived as a cabal of bigoted kakistocrats, as long as it remains the current leadership, and the mistake I have to correct myself on making, on a daily basis, is to react to the latest racist incompetent's confirmation by telling myself, "Well surely NOW…" or "How can they not see that THIS…" Surely nothing; they don't.
I relate this because my initial response to your letter is to feel like your family's casually nasty, un-inclusive behavior is SO flagrant that there must be a reason for it that you're not telling me, because one person might act like a cock, but when the entire group is doing it, might they not have good reason, reason you've elided? And they might. The "name's shit" folder thing doesn't sound like that big a deal; the snowboarding-trip story seems…porous, like I don't have all the information.
And it's possible that that's the case; it won't be the first time a Vine letter has…massaged, let's say, the facts on the ground so that I'll take the LW's side. It's possible that the "rage issues" you mention may have gone on longer, or affected your family more negatively, than you realize (or mention).
It's just as possible that your family is a murder of selfish assholes. And it's also just as possible that they feel frightened or awkward about your disease and some of your struggles, and don't know how to start talking about it, so instead they limit their contact with you to make, they think, their lives easier socially and emotionally.
Whatever the reasoning for your family's behavior, whether or not it's justified (and in the case of a maid-of-honor spot getting "revoked," it's hard to see how), while a wedding is often the cause of conflicts and hurt feelings — or the reason long-buried ones get surfaced — it's also not the time to try to resolve any of them. This is, I think, a day you want to get through and put in the rearview with as little fuss as possible. Plan to attend the ceremony, with your plus-one/wingperson, and beforehand, check in with your sister about whether you should dress "for" pictures; ask her in so many words what's expected of you as a family member who's not in the bridal party. Do this with absolutely zero tone of any kind. You aren't trying to start shit or subtweet her with this conversation. You want information.
Because if the answer is "wear whatever you want, non-party pictures will just be candids," great — you're off the hook. Attend the ceremony; go to the reception just long enough to be seen there by your family; grab a free Coke for the road and Irish-goodbye it. I had a tiny wedding, in my own house, and have no idea what half the guests got up to for most of that day.
When it's all over and you have a therapist you can trust again, talk to her about whether it's healthy for you to continue knowing these people if your perception of the relationship is consistently that it's, as you put it, "tailor-made to screw you over."
Tags: etiquette the fam weddings