Wedding planning. I was hopelessly, laughably naive.
I’m taking a moment here to breathe. My high anxiety personality is not conducive to planning an event, especially when it’s my own. If I were doing this for someone else, it would be much easier. It would feel easier. I can’t decide what that says about me and I’ve definitely spent some time
obsessing over considering it. It’s easier to do things for others I care about (those last three words because I am self-aware enough to know if I don’t, I can be horrifyingly dismissive). I don’t think it’s an entirely altruistic motivation – it would sound nice and all, but not completely honest.
The truth is I am irrationally uncomfortable with the idea that people are spending time and money to attend our wedding, many traveling not insignificant distances. I’m grateful and happy and touched, don’t get me wrong, but also uncomfortable, which led me to think, in eloquent terms, “That’s messed up.” And it results in me feeling a bizarre responsibility that they enjoy it, that it be fun … that it be worth their time. This can’t possibly be normal reasoning (and please don’t start telling me there’s no such thing as “normal.” Haven’t I mentioned my current anxiety level?! Just don’t.). Logically, I know these are people who love us and will therefore simply enjoy being present and celebrating with us. But logic has always been a poor contender in the wars of my brain.
Being members of the LGBT community, over the years we’ve seen and heard gut wrenching stories that come out of people’s marital celebrations. Family members that refuse to attend, hurtful things said to people who are in the midst of planning and celebrating their wedding. When those things happen, I’m not sure people remember, or perhaps I just hope they don’t, how incredibly vulnerable it is to be the people getting married. How much you’re putting yourself out there. You spend months upon months (oy, so naive) planning your ceremony – the place, the officiant, the invitations, the words you’ll say, the music you’ll hear. I have spent an inordinate amount of time writing the ceremony. It is extremely eclectic, and very, very us.
All the planning can make it sound like a performance event instead of a wedding but that really isn’t quite it. It’s that you want to choose the things that feel the most like the two of you, mean something to you. And if either spouse is as inherently indecisive as I am, heaven help them (you should all feel some sympathy for Jodi. Thank God she has the patience of Job, which is, to my credit, one of the first things I noticed about her). A wedding represents the two of you.
For something public, it is monumentally personal.
Because of those things, it is an incredibly hurtful thought that someone might open your invitation and feel anything other than joy. Having felt the sting of familial rejection ourselves, mostly myself, and knowing things that have happened to others, we were very deliberate in only inviting those people who we knew would be thrilled when they opened our invite. And the truth is, we are among the lucky ones. There are a lot of people coming to our wedding. We have a lot of friends and Jodi’s family is huge and supportive. I, on the other hand, have only two biological family members attending – my mom and stepdad. I am compelled to note that my grandmother would absolutely be here if she could but traveling that distance is too hard on her now so I would never let her do it. I also have two cousins and their respective families who would attend but just can’t and sent me really sweet messages about how much they support and are happy for us. I’m grateful and lucky to have them.
Still, I can’t completely ignore the fact that it does sting a little to be surrounded by so much of Jodi’s family and not my own. Granted, I didn’t invite most of them, and for good reason. The only holiday meal on my paternal side we have attended since I came out was at an uncle’s house who told us that we could attend so long as we didn’t show any public displays of affection. God, how unbelievably insulting that was. It disgusts me every time I think about it. Another uncle brought the condescending ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ and told me he’d pray for me, to which I immediately replied that I’d pray for him, too. My dad didn’t show up for that gathering because we were going to be there. Unfortunately, no-one told me that was going to happen until we arrived so that aspect was particularly
Needless to say, I’ve since established healthier boundaries.
I don’t dwell on these things very often. They used to make me really angry and hurt, and occasionally still do, but mostly I’ve just accepted that ours is not a family they can respect and certainly will never be thrilled about. Tolerate maybe, as they were polite to us that day, but celebrate? No. I’m pretty sure in their homes joy would not have accompanied the opening of our invitations. And I did not invite those whose reaction I couldn’t gauge. No reason to take that chance and put us all in an awkward position.
I used to loathe the saying, “It is what it is” because it seemed like such a defeatist attitude. However, I find as I get older, I end up adopting that attitude frequently. Maybe it’s not defeatist so much as being wiser about which battles to choose. Maybe I’m growing up. I’ve spent too long trying to change the big picture, sat through too many legislative sessions and hearings, met with too many legislators, knocked on too many doors, written too many words, been interviewed by too many people and even gone way out of my comfort zone to speak at too many rallies in order to even have the right to get married. I don’t have any inclination to now take on individuals and coerce them into happiness for us.
Plus, I’m not even close to those people anymore. They barely know me, really. I’m pretty sure in their mind I’m still the disrespectful, angry sixteen year old they knew in the 80s. I recall saying once that I didn’t like being a lawyer because I couldn’t handle the unrelenting contentiousness of it, a statement that would surprise no-one who remotely knows me. Two uncles were stunned and I wondered whether your family ever sees you beyond whoever you were as an adolescent. Given all that, does it really matter? It does, but only relatively.
The truth is, I’ll have family there in addition to my mom and stepdad. My Chosen Tribe, the Cellist and the Hairdresser – family one and all, and all traveling states away to get here. And there was never a moment’s doubt they would. Of course they would. They acted like it was an absurd question for me to even ask. And they have been THRILLED from the first moment of planning (and some have had to be very patient with my texts of this or this, what about this?). We also have Jodi’s mom and two aunts arriving on Wednesday to help, who planned that months ago saying they knew how stressed out I’d be by then … truthfully I’m not sure if my tendency toward stress worries them more for Jodi or me but I’m grateful, either way.
Of course, this week, after rarely experiencing any household maintenance problems, the upstairs toilet broke, the dryer went out and the downstairs shower stopped draining. Because of course. After the third thing happened, all I could do was laugh. Well, I cursed like a sailor, and then I laughed. But by this evening, all of those things will be fixed. So, bring it, Murphy, we can take it.
This time next week, almost everyone I really love in the world will be converging on Boulder for our wedding. How crazy is that? It’s surreal, really. Surely this fact can lend some strength to logic during the ongoing battles in my warped little brain.