- 5 years ago
- Wedding: July 2013
This is me just venting. I am not really looking for any advice or input. I’ve been hurting over this since February, and not a day goes by that I don’t replay it all in my head and try to figure out why things happened this way. So I sort of hoped that maybe getting it all out in the open will help me to heal a little.
I have a very small family – my grandma, my dad, two aunts, one uncle, and three cousins (one girl age 17, two boys age 20 and 23… for comparison, I’ll be 27 next month).
My mother left when I was young, so my aunts have always been mother-figures and role models to me. One aunt lives in Califorinia (I am in New Jersey) but she flies to NJ practically every month to see Bruce Springsteen. She stays at my dad’s house when she is in NJ, so I get to see her quite a lot.
She was here in February, and we made an appointment to go dress shopping together. We got there early, so we had time to chat. She asked me if I had chosen a bridal party yet. I excitedly told her about my four ladies – all of which know me and my fiance very well, and have seen (and even helped) our relationship grow over the last seven years. When I was done, she said, “Oh. Your cousin thought you were going to ask her…”
…WHAAA? I was absolutely, completely, utterly shocked. My 17 year old cousin whom I had seen once in five years. I can’t remember ever having had a substantial conversation with her. She doesn’t know my fiance at all (I doubt she’d be able to even point him out in a picture). She is a Cali girl, and I am a Jersey girl and we are NINE years apart in age, with drastically different hobbies, interests, views, and opinions.
Side Note: Our family gets together every year for Christmas, except that five years ago, my cousin (she was 12 then) complained that she didnt like going because she missed out on time with her friends. So my aunt has come to Christmas alone for the last five years.
The only time I have seen my cousin in the last five years was last year, when my fiance (boyfriend then) and I flew to CA for a mini vacation. My aunt was a fantastic host, took us around to do all the touristy things on our list, and one of the days she forced my cousin to come along. My cousin was clearly not thrilled by the idea of missing out on time with friends to be dragged around doing touristy things with her older cousin and some weird guy she didnt know. So she made sure she stormed ahead and walked a full block ahead of us, with her nose in her iPhone, and barely spoke a word to us. I am explaining this to let you see the kind of relationship (or lack thereof) that I have always had with my cousin. BUT! she’s family, and I love her. We’re just incredibly different people (with a 9 year age gap, and a 3000 mile geographic gap, it’s no surprise…).
So, when I finally got over the shock of the idea that my cousin supposedly was hoping to be a part of my wedding, I explained to my aunt “Wow, I absolutely had NO idea she’d be interested at all…… but if she is, I will absolutley find her a spot in my wedding!”
The rest of our day was perfect – I narrowed my choices down to TWO dresses, we met with my dad and grandma for lunch afterward, and it was just a lovely day. We even booked the NEXT appointment for the next time she’d be in NJ (April). I was excited for that appointment, as I hoped it would be the day I finally chose “THE” dress – I invited my other Aunt from CT, and my fiance’s aunt, and my bridesmaids to make it an extra special event.
I spent the next week talking to my dad and my CT aunt to brainstorm and come up with a perfect spot for my cousin in my wedding. (For the record, they were both just as shocked as I was that she’d have any interest at all!!). Handing out programs or bubbles? No, she might feel weird talking to strangers. Carrying my dress train? No, she’d DEFINITELY feel weird following around my butt all day. I rejected a dozen ideas before we finally figured it out – escorting our 3 year old ring bearer down the aisle! How PERFECT!
But before I got a chance to talk to my CA aunt about the idea, she had already sent me an e-mail. Out of the blue. Filled with anger, hate, horrible accusations, and hurt.
She said that it had been “eating her up inside” for the last week. How thoughtless and careless I was that I did not consider my “only female cousin, who is of an appropriate age to be a bridesmaid” (when I was 17, I would NOT have wanted to be a bridesmaid, at all! So 17 did not, to me, seem like bridesmaid age – especially when the bride-to-be is 26). How “blood is thicker than water,” and “friends come and go but family lasts a lifetime.” She claimed that her efforts to be a supportive and loving aunt to me clearly meant nothing to me since I did not feel that her daughter “deserved a place at my side on my special day” (I did not understand why her efforts as an aunt should automatically translate to my cousin who has wanted nothing to do with her family for the last five years). She told me my decision was “pretty skewed.”
I broke down crying, called my dad and my other aunt wondering if I really was a horrible person for not thinking of my cousin as a bridesmaid!! I was unfamiliar with wedding etiquette – was it proper etiquette that I should have automatically included her, despite not being close at all?? But my fiance has 11 cousins that we see FAR more often than I see any of my own cousins – how would it be fair for us to include MY cousin and leave out all of his cousins (all of whom we are much closer to than any of my own cousins!). I was lost, hurt, confused, and devastated.
I responded to her email explaining my mindset in including people who have helped our relationship grow, I explained my ignorance of proper wedding etiquette, and I explained how his family is enormous and it did not seem terribly fair to include someone from my family but no one from his. Before I sent the email to her, I sent it to my other aunt and my father for proofreading – I did not want to make anything worse, so I wanted to make sure my email was not written in hurt and anger. They agreed I was being respectful and mature, and so I sent it.
She responded with a half-assed apology surounded by lots of excuses – “I must not have heard you. I have a lot going on. Work sucks. I’m sick. I’m stressed. Your cousin is depressed. My nerves are shot. etc etc.”
I was still incredibly hurt so it was hard for me to accept an apology like this over email, especially one wrapped in excuses that didn’t feel genuine in the least. And then my dad forwarded the email HE received from her the same day she sent her “apology” to me. She wrote to my father that I was a liar, that I made things up, that I never told her I’d find a spot for my cousin in my wedding. She told him that “the timing of the wedding is so bad, that spending thousands on airfare, lodging, and travel is impractical for us anyway” (Insane!! She travels to NJ every few months and stays at my Dad’s house every time so she NEVER pays for a hotel. She gets ALL her plane tickets from flyer miles that she accrues through ordering things for her Work on a flyer mile credit card, so her flights cost her next to nothing…. and she’s going to claim that it’s impractical for her to attend her neice’s wedding?!! The money she’s saved by sleeping at my dad’s house every visit to NJ over the years has easily surpassed the money she would need to spend to attend my wedding). Just hurt, on top of hurt, on top of hurt……
Needless to say, my father defended me endlessly. When my CA aunt tried telling my other aunt more nasty things about me, my other aunt also defended me.
Things were tense, awkward, uncomfortable for everyone. Then the April dress appointment came. I had not spoken to her at all, and I was not even sure that she would show up. She did show up, but she barely looked at me, just sat there texting on her phone. It was uncomfortable and I felt sick to my stomach so I picked a dress just to get it over with. She left immediately after, before they brought out veils and shoes and jewelry and the alterations specialist to help show me what my dress would look like… Then she texted my other aunt and made HER leave early too. So before my dress appointment was over, I was left with just my bridesmaids and my fiance’s aunt (none of my own family stayed by me). Yay.
I decided I needed to speak to her in person, ASAP, because I was tired of crying and feeling sick to my stomach. Both of my aunts were going to be staying at my dad’s house that weekend, so I went there to try to talk to her. No one was there! So I called my dad to find out what was going on.
Apparently my CA aunt had arranged a lunch with my two estranged cousins (Yes, I have two MORE cousins from a third aunt, but no one in our family has seen or heard from them in FIFTEEN YEARS… my dad and my aunts tried for years to get in contact with them, and they avoided us like the plague for 15 years. Apparently, my CA aunt finally broke through and got them to agree to meet for lunch. So THAT was why both my aunts left my dress appointment early!). I had not heard of this lunch or been invited. And it seemed really convenient that it was arranged for the day of my dress appointment.
My CA aunt made my other aunt leave my appointment early because she had to go pick up my grandmother and bring her to the lunch. My dad had offered to drive Grandma there instead, so that my aunt would not have to leave my appointment (he knew it was important to me), and then she could just meet up after my appointment was over. Plus, my dad was hoping to see his neice and nephew finally after 15 years, too!
My CA aunt told him bluntly that he was not welcome at their lunch (something to do with how family is not important to me?!). So, needless to say, he was hurt furious… especially on top of how she had been treating me.
I went to his house to wait for my aunts to return. I spent hours fighting not to cry and/or throw up, when they finally came back. I was waiting for the right moment to say something… My CA aunt went on and on about how they spent hours looking at my estranged cousin’s WEDDING ALBUM (she got married last year but no one knew) and how beautiful her wedding was. That was just more salt on my wounds – they left my wedding dress appointment to look at photos of my estranged cousin’s wedding that no one in our family was even told about, let alone invited to.
I had to get up and walk around outside several times to calm my nerves and choke back tears. I noticed my CA aunt posted a new status on Facebook – “Had an incredible day with (my other aunt) and (my estranged cousins)! Lunch, walking on the beach, what a perfect day!!” ….No mention of me at all, or that I found “the” dress. My dad noticed me outside crying on the porch, so I showed him the post on my phone. He was even more angry.
I finally made it back inside, and my dad came in and said “I have to go get milk for tomorrow’s coffee, if anyone needs anything…” Then looked at my CA aunt and said “I just want you to know I’m incredibly disappointed in you,” and he stepped out to go get milk.
The second the door shut behind him, my aunt started grumbling and complaining about what a “f*ing a*hole” my dad is, lots of cursing and name-calling. I managed to choke out one sentence – “Aunt __, my dad is still angry because he knows I am still hurting.”
Hearing this, she LEAPED up from the couch, screaming and shouting about what NERVE I had to still be hurt, after all, she f*ing apologized already! I need to grow up and get the f* over it! FINE, she WON’T come to my wedding! THERE, am I f*ing happy now?! Is that what I want?? blah blah blah…. She grabbed her suitcase and stormed out.
I was hysterical, crying so hard I was hyperventilating and shaking. I had come there to try to talk to her in person to fix things, not make them worse!
My other aunt was still there, sitting in shock, rubbing my back, I don’t think she knew what to say or do. So she went upstairs to my grandma’s room to see how Grandma was doing. I spent two hours there crying before I could stand on my own feet without feeling like my legs would give out under me. I went home, and cried myself to sleep.
The following morning, I got an email from my CA cousin – the first contact I’ve had from her in years – telling me what a disgrace I am to this family for hurting her mother so badly. That I should be ashamed of how horribly I treated my aunt. She said she was so disgusted with my actions that she planned on never coming back east again (even though she HASN’T come back east in the last five years… so i don’t know how much of a threat that really was). I never responded to her, it wasn’t worth it.
That was in April. My dad has not spoken to my CA aunt at all since then. My other aunt spoke to her several times about how childish she was, and how she owe me a REAL apology. In JUNE, she sent me a short email apologizing, and claiming it was a genuine and heartfelt apology, and asking if we could forget this and move on.
I responded and told her I appreciated the e-mail, but this was not something I could forgive through e-mail. I told her I personally needed to speak to her in person, face-to face, in order to forgive or move on. I told her that, if she was interested, to give me a call next time she was in New Jersey and we could have coffee or lunch and talk.
I have not heard from her since then. I know she was in New Jersey early September (my dad allowed her to stay at his house so she could see my grandmother, and he actually stayed somewhere ELSE that weekend so as not to be near her), and I did not receive a call. I know she is in New Jersey again next weekend, and I am worried I will not receive a call then either.
This whole drama has changed how my dad and my other aunt see her. It has changed my whole view of the person I thought she was. It has changed my whole view of my family. It still hurts, and I still come close to tears sometimes, even 7 months after it all started, because my tiny family has been ripped apart and will never again be what it always was. I saw a side of my aunt I never knew existed. It hurts, and I don’t think it will ever stop hurting.
…As a side note… I couldn’t go with the dress I “chose” that day – I did not want to remember that horrible day as the day I found my wedding dress. Which, it turns out, was a blessing in disguise – it got me to branch out and try more dresses, and ultimately led me to my Maggie Sottero Jessie, which is infinitely more perfect for me than the dress I had chosen that day anyway. 🙂