I have been estranged from my father for 8 of the past 10 years. Because of the estrangement, my relationships with my siblings are somewhat distant.
My sister lives across the country, and the last time she was home for a visit, I asked her to be a bridesmaid. The estrangement’s effect on our relationship has been a lot worse than it’s been for my relationship with my brother, but over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on having a better relationship.
I made it clear that being a bridesmaid was not a job and was meant to be an honor. My partner and I would expect her to come to the wedding, be in photos, walk down the aisle and stand during the ceremony, and either do a ceremony reading or give a toast during the reception. I did not want a bridal shower, and I’d be fine without a bachelorette party and, if the wedding party wanted to throw one, my partner and I would prefer a joint bachelor/ette party.
My sister asked for time to think, which was totally fine with me, but throughout the rest of the evening (family event) proceeded to corner my partner and then me to talk about our dad. Would I be reconciling with him? Could we invite him “as a friend?” What about when we had children? She told me that she couldn’t be his daughter AND my sister at the same time, and that he was just so so so sad that I wasn’t in his life anymore. By the end of the night, she said she wasn’t okay with being a bridesmaid. However, she definitely wanted to do a ceremony reading, and would happily plan the bachelor/ette party. She even offered to make a poster collage of pictures of us.
A week later, she emailed me saying that she thought about it and realized that she was being silly, and that of couse she would be a bridesmaid. She bought a dress and even pushed for me to get my maid of honor to buy the same dress so they’d match.
Now, she’s changed her mind again. Same as before—she just isn’t okay with being a bridesmaid. She can’t explain it. But she definitely still wants to be involved in the wedding. She’ll still wear the dress. Do a reading. Etc.
I’m honestly beyond frustrated at this point. These things she’s offering to do are wedding party things, and I feel like if she’s going to say no to being in the wedding party, she should just say no and leave me alone. I also feel like I need to accommodate her and make her as comfortable as possible because the alternative is alienating her more, and risking what little relationship we’ve managed to build. I feel like it’s petty for me to say, “These are wedding party things, so if you don’t want to be in the wedding party, we don’t want these things from you.”
But I’m just so tired of sacrificing my feelings for my siblings. I linked arms with my dad and smiled for my brother’s wedding photos because that’s what my brother wanted. I went to my sister’s college graduation and graduation party enthusiastically and spent lots of time awkwardly hobnobbing with my dad’s side of the family. Being around my dad and his family is immensely stressful, and after I do it, I’m usually distraught to the point of tears. My sister is not required to prioritize my feelings over hers just because it’s my wedding, and she’s not aware of how upset this is making me because, well, I haven’t told her. I’m not sure how to tell her without having her feel like I’m emotionally blackmailing her into being a bridesmaid.
What makes everything worse, besides, well, this entire situation, is that she keeps insisting that she’s SO happy for us. How is SO obvious that my partner is perfect for me and she’s NEVER seen me this happy. It doesn’t really ring true to me. She’s met my partner a handful of times. She and I don’t talk terribly regularly (once a month or so). I don’t post a lot about my relationship on Facebook. It just feels like she’s trying to prove she’s really happy for me when she’s really feeling anxious and upset. Which is okay, but I’d rather she be honest with me.
I’m just so stressed about this. I’m not going to reconcile with my dad, but I’m doing as much as I can to still be in my siblings’ lives and be as gracious about the situation as possible. And I don’t buy into the whole, “Well, it’s MY wedding, it’s my day to be selfish.” It just feels like I can either let my sister do whatever she pleases to make my wedding easier for her, or I can risk our relationship over something as petty as the title of “bridesmaid.”