- 4 years ago
I’m hoping for some advice about how to deal with the guilt/sadness I’m feeling right now. This is going to be long, I apologize.
I’ve been married a few weeks now. My wedding day was perfect. At least, I thought it was. My dad and I are very close (as I am with all my family), but we don’t often talk about emotions or show over the top affection. I kiss his cheek and tell him I love him every time I see him though. He and my new husband get along very well and I know without a doubt that both my parents are very happy to have him as a son-in-law, and that my husband loves my parents as well.
My dad’s not a man of many words and often prefers to listen rather than talk, except for the odd one-liner that’s sure to get everyone laughing. He is the type to think before he says things. As the father of the bride, he knew he was expected to give a speech at the wedding reception, and had mentioned a few months prior that he had started writing down some ideas of what he would say. He liked to tease my husband-to-be and hint at the jokes he would say about him.
On Wedding Day, when it came time for the speeches, my new father-in-law spoke first, giving what was obviously a well prepared and thought-out speech. He is accustomed to public speaking, he actually enjoys it quite a bit, and I was not the least surprised by the length of his speech or the manner in which he gave it. Then it was my father’s turn. He thanked all the guests for coming and paused, as he often does when he “thinks before he says things”. He said a few words about how it was a beautiful day and the he and my mother were very happy. Then there was a long pause and I thought he had become a bit overwhelmed (he had been emotional during the day) and lost for words. So he turned and said that he was proud of me and loved me. Then he paused and said my new husband was a good man and he was happy to have him in the family. And then he kind of just nodded and handed the mic back to the MC and everyone applauded. The thought never even crossed my mind that something had gone wrong. I simply thought he had become a bit emotional and had decided to keep his speech short.
We played some games, went through the rest of the speeches, had a break for snacks, and my husband and I danced our first dance and still I had no idea anything was wrong. This is a big part of the guilt I feel. Then it came time for the Father-Daughter dance. I had asked my dad to choose the song (he had told me a few weeks prior what he had chosen) and I was looking forward to dancing with him and soaking in the words. My dad doesn’t like attention so I had a friend create a slideshow of photos of me growing up so people wouldn’t watch us too closely. I had a million things in my head that I wanted to tell my dad while we danced. How I was so lucky to have had him raise me and show me the kind of love I deserve to have and not settle for anything less. How I thought he looked so handsome in his tuxedo. How I was so happy that him and my mom both walked me down the aisle at church and were so involved in planning our special day. How I appreciate all the preparations they had made for the wedding. How much I love him and always will love him. So first I commented on how the day was perfect. And he smiled a little and said “Yes… except for the screw up.” And I had no idea what he was talking about. And then I saw the look on his face and how he wouldn’t meet my eye. He said something about his speech and I sort of laughed and dismissed it, saying it was perfect: he thanked the guests and he said he loved us. But still his eyes were sad. And I felt awkward and I didn’t know what to say to him. I thought he was just worried over nothing. And I forgot all the wonderful things I wanted to say to him and I forgot to listen to the words of the song as I tried to remember exactly what he’d said in his speech that had been so bad. And then the song was over and the dancing started and I was pulled this way and that by so many people and I lost track of my parents. It’s not until the end of the night when my mom mentioned my dad felt bad about his speech that I thought about it again. And I realized my dad (who likes to have a few drinks on special occasions) was barely drinking and standing quietly with some guests. And though I felt that sad feeling again, I still didn’t really understand what was wrong.
The next day my dad showed me his notes, that he had forgotten at home, with nice little anecdotes and one-liners that would have made people smile and laugh. I felt sad that everyone hadn’t gotten the chance to hear those words, and sad that my dad had probably spent a lot of time thinking of just the right things to say, and he never got to say them. He said he realized he didn’t have his notes when we got to the reception hall, but didn’t want to “ruin my day” by taking the 20 minutes it would have taken to drive home and back to get them. I feel so guilty that he thought something so small would ruin my day. I can’t stop thinking of how he must’ve felt up there in front of 250 people without his notes, after my father-in-law had given such a good speech, all because he didn’t want me to worry about delaying the reception by 20 minutes.
It’s not until a few days later that my mother told me my father had said to her after his speech “I embarrassed our daughter”. He thought he had embarrassed me because he forgot what he wanted to say! My heart breaks to think about him feeling like that. I have never once, not even when I said I was when I was a teenager, been embarrassed of either one of my parents. I’ve always been very proud to be their daughter, and it’s not a little stage fright that would ever change that. It hurts that he thinks that, and I feel guilty in a sense because I must have done something to make him think such a small thing would embarrass me.
I can’t stop thinking about this and often wake up in the night with my stomach in knots, thinking about how my dad must have felt. And I feel sad that he didn’t get to say his speech, I feel guilty that I barely noticed he was feeling sad during the reception, and even more guilty that he thinks he embarrassed me. I feel like a horrible person and I don’t know how to get over this. I am usually not someone who dwells on things and I do believe everything happens for a reason, but I can’t seem to shake this.
I’m not sure what I’m looking for here. Maybe I just needed to get it off my chest. Maybe some of you have had similar experiences? Maybe you have ideas of something I could do or say that would make both my dad and I feel better?