When being dead doesn’t matter to alcoholics
There are so many things I regret in my life. So many things I have done to people to hurt them that I wish I could un-do. I think about the hurts I have inflicted more than the hurts that have been done to me.
But this one is a combination of hurt done unto to me and one I did to people I love, which makes it particularly memorable.
Mr T and I did not invite his best friend and best friend’s wife and my best friends to our wedding. They are our best couple friends and we love them. I love my best friends.
Had we to do it again, we would invite them.
But at the time, we were caught up in Drama and Rules and could not see the big picture.
Let’s dispense with the Rules first, shall we? Those should have been tossed aside easily and quickly. What were we thinking?
I know what I was thinking. That the order of inviting people to a wedding goes like this:
- Bride and groom
- Immediate family
- Aunts and uncles
- And then your friends
Our immediate family included Mr T’s parents, my mom (my dad died 22 years ago) and my siblings, his lovely lovely stepdaughters and their husbands, his brothers and their wives, and his nieces and nephews.
For Mr T, the group of aunts and uncles included two people. Cousins added four. Except he had seen these people maybe once in the past 20 years. I am guessing they would not have come.
For me, the group of aunts and uncles included 16 people. Add cousins and their spouses and that’s another 52? Something like that? (How many cousins do I have?)
My family is close. I like my family. I wanted them there. They would have come.
But we just didn’t have the money to host an event for that many people.
We thought we couldn’t invite our friends unless we invited at least to the aunts and uncles level.
I realize now that we were wrong.
We could have invited our best friends and we should have. My aunts and uncles would have understood. My cousins for sure would have understood. I have not been invited to all of their weddings and I am fine with that. Weddings are expensive. It’s cool.
So – that was a big mistake and I wish I could fix it.
But that wasn’t even the main reason we didn’t invite Best Friends.
The main reason was we were so worried about Drama.
Mr T’s parents did not like me.
They hated me.
I guess they saw love as a zero-sum game? And any love that Mr T gave to me was love that he didn’t give to them?
They told him not to marry me.
They told him I was marrying only for money.
Ha. I wish.
(For the record, Mr T is not a wealthy man. I wish he were. I would be very happy to marry for money.)
(Also for the record. Mr T’s parents disinherited him when they died. Not because of me – they wrote their will before they met me. So I don’t know what that was all about. They were not kind to him, even though they could not have asked for a better son. Mr T is a good man.)
They told him they were not going to come to the wedding.
They came only because Mr T threatened them with, among other things, never seeing him again. I was actually fine with their not coming, but Mr T was somewhat traumatized at his parents not coming to his wedding.
(And they told him this in confidence – as in, his dad would not tell him that they were “boycotting” the wedding when Mr T was on the phone sitting next to me. Mr T had to be in a room by himself. Because Mr T wouldn’t tell me this news? Because I would not figure it out if either Mr T bowed to their wishes and didn’t marry me or if they didn’t show up to the wedding? How was this secret to be maintained? It’s been more than eleven years and I still can’t figure out how this plot was supposed to work.)
We were so worried that there would be alcohol-fueled drama that we did not want any of our friends around to witness it.
The shame involved around alcoholism – if you have never been around that sort of thing – if you come from a functional family – it’s almost impossible to understand.
The shame involved when you don’t know if a parent is going to blow up – is going to say something mean and cutting. The fear. If you have never been around that sort of thing, it’s almost impossible to understand.
I have tried to explain it to my own family and they don’t get it. Which I guess is a good thing? I mean, I don’t want the people I love to understand it. I don’t want them to nod knowingly and say, “Oh yeah! I’ve been there!” I don’t want them ever to have experienced it.
I also don’t want to inflict it on anyone.
I don’t want to inflict the meanness and the anger and the viciousness on anyone I care about.
I don’t want them to be witness to it, either.
And that’s where we were.
We were so worried that Mr T’s parents – well, his father – would be mean and nasty and cruel that we just wanted to contain the damage as best we could.
Can you imagine that idea as the theme for your wedding?
“Contain the damage from an alcoholic parent?”
It really limits what you can do.
If that’s all you’re thinking about, it constrains your bigger picture thinking. You make stupid decisions, like, “I can’t have my best friends see this. I can’t subject them to the possibility of this. I can’t have them see me be treated badly. I can’t have them be treated badly.”
And then your best friends are not there to share your happiness. They are not there to commiserate.
And 11 years later, when you have some perspective, you realize that having your friends there would have made the indignities easier to bear. They would have understood and would have strengthened you and held you up as the damages flew your way. They would have been on your side.
But 11 years later, the memories you have of your wedding do not include your best friends. They do include people you love – your mother, her gentleman caller, your brother, your sister, your lovely bonus daughters, and of course your husband, but they also include Mr T’s father getting drunk and mean more than once and all that entailed.
(Some of that entail includes a wedding toast in which Mr T’s father manages to insult you without even mentioning your name! Not once! Not one time does he say your name – yet he still insults you! Mr T’s father was very very smart. He knew how to do these things.)
And those memories include a huge hole where the friends should have been.
And you can’t fill that hole now. No matter how much you wish you could.