DAME’s Friendkeeper smooths some familial strife and helps a generous giver get over her guilt.
My brother is getting married in September and I was supposed to be a bridesmaid at his wedding until the other day when his fiancée informed me via text message that because I didn’t get her my measurements in time that she has asked someone else. At the time I was going through a very traumatic breakup with my common law spouse, was homeless for almost two months with our child, and when she asked me for my measurements I was literally lifting boxes moving into a new apartment and I have to admit her wedding plans weren’t a priority for me at that time. At no time did she mention anything about a deadline or even call to remind me. She didn’t say anything at all until a month later when she sent me a text saying she’d asked someone else.
My brother and I are extremely close, he even gave me away at my own wedding, so when I first heard that they were getting married I told him I’d like to stand up for him and be his best “man.” His fiancée said she’d like me to be a bridesmaid because she wanted her brother as a groomsman so I reluctantly agreed. My only request was that the dress not be strapless because I’m full figured and well endowed and I didn’t want to look like a sausage. Of course the dress she chose last November was over $200 AND strapless, so I told her that although I was disappointed and it was a lot of money to spend on a dress that I will never wear again that I loved her and I’d wear it anyway. By June she has changed her mind on the dress and now needs my measurements to order it? I’ve never been a bridesmaid in my life but assumed that since she was ordering dresses online that I could just order my own. I still have no idea why I can’t unless she was trying to get some kind of bulk discount? Obviously there has been a huge misunderstanding on my part and I fully admit it, but I am beyond hurt that she didn’t just call me to explain.
When I texted her back to tell her that I was upset she went on a complete tirade of Bridezilla texts about how inconsiderate I am for not getting back to her, that HER wedding wasn’t about me, bridesmaids get no say in their dresses, how selfish I am, and how great the new bridesmaid is because she gave her measurements right away. I pretty much said, “You know what, all I really wanted was to stand up for my brother so have fun with that. I don’t even know if I’m going to come anymore. ” When I spoke to my brother he said, and I quote, “My guys are all wearing black, you’re standing up for me, she’s out of it.” I have no problem wearing a suit and tie or tux and just assumed that I’d dress like the rest of the guys so as not to rock the boat any further and that the matter was settled. That is, until the next barrage of crazy texts telling me that I can pretty much choose any ankle-length black dress I want but that she wants final approval. I’m so hurt and angry with her right now I don’t even want to go let alone be in the wedding party. I can already predict she’s going to hate every dress I suggest so she can prolong the drama, prove to everyone how difficult and what a terrible person I am, and how much I’m stressing her out. My question is, how do I compromise with this woman who seems hell bent on making me miserable? I have enough stress dealing with my own life right now, and I really don’t want to disappoint my brother.
One Frazzled Sister
Wow, in the words of Mr. Dr. Phil, there’s a world of hurt here. If this was a TV show I’d call it “A Very Special Dear Julie.” In a nutshell, you’re both right and you’re both wrong, but you (both) are also so wrapped up in your own very big stuff, you can’t see anything.
You have my total sympathy. Breaking up a relationship while being a mother and having to move is HORRIBLE and it’s certainly enough to deal with; there is no question that the stuff you were going through had to take precedence over giving your measurements. (Why measurements? Why can’t you just say you’re a size 10?) This whole thing is super complicated, not “Battle of Midway” complicated, but definitely “setting up a new cable box” complicated. Let’s break it down, shall we?
1) You heard they were getting married and you told your brother you’d like to be on his team. I did the same thing; it doesn’t go over great with the bride to be. Mainly because your brother doesn’t really care as much, and she would see this as you not wanting to be on her team.
2) Also, you are very close to your brother, she may have issues with this. Sometimes spouses get jealous of close sibling relationships, especially if it’s an opposite sex sibling. This Is Real.
3) She said she wanted you on her team and you “reluctantly agreed.” Ouch! If I asked someone to be in my wedding party and they reluctantly agreed I’d be hurt, too. It’s kind of a big deal to be asked. (Although my 10 bridesmaids agreed that I seemed to have asked everyone I knew so it was less of an honor than they hoped.)
4) You gave her some parameters for the dress she was choosing. (I’m hearing this as, “Look, I’ll be in your stupid loser party, but don’t make me wear a strapless dress!”)
Okay, not a great starting off point, amirite?
Now comes you, you’re not feeling so great about all of this, and maybe … maybe … a little jealous that while you’re going through a nightmarish split, single parenthood, and homelessness, your future sister-in-law is choosing whether to get yellow roses or blue hydrangea and grilled salmon or beef Wellington, and which $2,000 dress makes her look most like a princess. I’d feel that way, too, almost enough to (only subconsciously) try to ruin a little bit of it for her.
All of this says to me neither of you were coming into this with open arms. I’m really close to both of my sister-in-laws, but I was twitchy with each of them before their weddings, because I was my brothers’ favorite sister (so what if I was the only sister?). It’s hard! And it’s really hard to watch people be crazy in love when you’re crazy in hate or totally alone. Then your brother defended you! He said you could be on his team, the heck with her. (This, for her, is adding insult to injury.) And what a nice brother he is, but he wasn’t doing his future wife (or relationship) any favors. If I were her, I’d be putting his dinner in the doghouse.
I think all brides have kind of gotten a bum rap because of the Bridezilla thing (except for the sister of the Charleston shooter who did a gofundme because her special day was ruined … she can go fuck herself). It’s a very stressful time and as we know, people get caught up in details when they are worried about the big picture. A dear friend of mine who is getting divorced is slightly obsessed with how she is going to move her two cats across the country and she said to me, “It’s much easier than thinking about the dissolution of marriage.” I am going on a big trip next week and instead of obsessing about how my daughter and dogs will manage, I keep thinking of this pink dress I wish I had that would make the trip perfect. So you can give her a little on that.
You, however, have a huge wad of your own shit to deal with and she could’ve come out at any point with some understanding for what you are going through but didn’t, and that is, to use some clinical phraseology, “sucky and bitchy.” Now what? She and your brother are going to be married; it is in all of your best interests to get along for your whole life. She’s going to be your kid’s aunt; you will be her kid’s aunt. It’s time to mend some fences and not via text.
Take a deep breath. Send her an email and ask her to have lunch. Don’t go over, “You did this” and “I did this.” Tell her that you love your brother (if you can stomach it say you love her, too). You have been understandably preoccupied but you are happy for them and would love to figure out, together with her, how to make things better. Dress shmess. You’ll never wear it again, so ask her to look at some options with you or make some suggestions because you want her to be happy. (Stupid ugly bridesmaid dresses are funny! The worse the better. See if you can get a one-shouldered thing with a giant bow then send me a picture.) I hope if you show her your feelings of vulnerability she will be caring and considerate. There must be some reason your brother likes her. If she’s still tight lipped and bitchy about it, then you will know you’ve tried your best to be the better person. Go to the wedding, screw the dress, dance, and eat pigs in blankets and have fun. After that life should return to Not Being About Her, but for now you’ll do the best thing for everyone (mainly yourself and your brother) if you try to make amends. I wish you luck, this ain’t easy.
I am a pretty fortunate person health and wealthwise. I have a good friend who has had a very bad stretch: She got divorced a few years ago and her husband had some kind of psychotic break and drained their bank account. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, I’ve been taking care of her and helping her out financially. I am so happy I can do it. She is always doing little things for me: She bakes breads, fixed my birdhouse, brings me tons of stuff from her garden and eggs from her chickens. Whenever I go anywhere she takes care of my animals. But the thing is, I feel very bad about all she does. I’m so happy I have money and time and can do things for her. How can I tell her she doesn’t need to do these things? I’m feeling kind of guilty and it’s a little awkward.
The Guilty Giver
How sad for your friend and how incredibly lucky she is to have someone like you. That kind of thing can happen to someone and if they have no one, they are in real trouble. Frightened, alone, and with real serious problems of life and death and finances. A person like you is an angel. If I were her, I’d be so thankful and grateful, I would be fixing your birdhouse, too. Although to be perfectly honest the one time I made a birdhouse, I forgot to make a door. It was more like a bird solitary confinement. So you probably wouldn’t want me working on yours….
I’ve been in the position of your friend—okay, not the cancer and not the ex with the psychotic break who drained us of our finances, but other than that identical. What I mean is, I was worried about being homeless, very broke and scared, and a few people stepped in and helped me—my parents who I’m always grateful to, my Aunt Mattie (who I have PROMISED to put in a nice old age home and get her the good meal plan), and some friends who really just were there. About all I could afford were baking supplies so baking is what I did. Unfortunately my brain was so scrambled that each gift was missing some key ingredient but I didn’t know that till later…. Anyway, the thing is, you’re giving her a lot and from the sound of it, mighty kindly, and I’m going to give you an order. Accept her gifts graciously, even make some requests, like, “I’m dying for chocolate chip cookies, hint hint.” Clearly she is trying to do what she can, and your acceptance is making her feel better. If it makes you feel better you can say, “You know, you don’t have to do this, but if you want to, I love and appreciate it.” It’s a gift to let people do the things they can to show their appreciation to you. You two sound like you have a perfectly lovely friendship. Keep going!
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