Carolyn Hax: Bridesmaids' mockery can hold important lesson
I'm getting married in a few months and am thrilled to have my four closest friends in the wedding. Sometimes I can feel myself getting too frantic about minute details that only I would care about, but all my ladies have been incredibly patient and kind. I thought I just had the greatest friends in the world, but then I got a misdirected e-mail from one bridesmaid to another. The e-mail excerpted one of my mass e-mails to the girls and mocked me relentlessly for being too detail-oriented, too demanding and too self-centered about my wedding. It is obvious these are running jokes among the bridal party.
I doubt the writer has realized her mistake. Since then I've been too ashamed to talk to any of them, and in my moments of greatest anxiety I've even considered postponing the wedding or telling them I can no longer afford a bridal party. Do you think I should confront them?
At least to start, the only person you need to confront is you -- about your unrealistic expectations:
-- Of your wedding, of course, since the minutiae are not only irrelevant to the marriage, but also can bog down the party by stressing out the hosts;
-- Of yourself, since this may be the biggest thing in your life, ever, but that doesn't mean it will top that list for long;
-- Of your cosmic importance as a bride. You got that right yourself, on those "details that only I would care about." That was probably hindsight, since you apparently sent several of these detail-heavy mass e-mails and expected your bridesmaids to care. But make it foresight now, and assume no one will care about you as much as you do, until they actually do (groom possibly excepted). Pocket that hard truth for when you have kids, and all the minutiae they generate.
-- Of your friends, who can love you, be very happy for you, and still want to put out their eyes the next time they get a piffle-packed missive from you;
-- And, of relationships in general. Your friends aren't monsters, they're human beings, who have it in their nature to gather, to laugh, to commiserate -- and sometimes veer into scapegoating. Groups do get carried away. Maybe you truly wouldn't have indulged in a group eye-roll the way they have, but that's rare.
I say this while feeling for you, knowing your pain and shame must be acute; no one should have to hear exactly what their critics are saying. I just believe this isn't a unique, mutinous set of bridesmaids but a fact of life: People talk about one another. It often isn't kind. The more swept up in your own narrative you get, the less kind that talk tends to be.
You may decide to confront your friends or not. You may admit what you saw, apologize for your excesses, thank them for the wake-up face-slap they never intended to give -- and promise a new, relaxed, perspective-based approach to your wedding. (If you, ahem, want them to feel awful, take this tack.)
Maybe the pain's too raw for that. Understandable. But if nothing else, please take this most unwelcome but most constructive humility into your marriage. It won't show up on any registries, but it's truly a beautiful gift.
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