A friend of mine is getting married soon, and I have some difficult decisions to make regarding the various invitations to her wedding and the events surrounding it. There is some history here, so I hope some of you will take the time to read it and weigh in on the best way to respond.
This friend and I met about 8-9 years ago, and had been pretty close for a few years. At one point, I introduced her to an ex-girlfriend of mine that I had gotten back in touch with because I thought she would be a fun addition to the group. Unfortunately, and very naively on my part, the ex-girlfriend still had some aspirations for a romantic relationship with me. When I realized this and turned her down, she decided to f--- with my friend and I. The ex told me that she really couldn't hang out with me anymore because it was making her current girlfriend jealous. Then, she proceeded to schedule as much time as possible with my new friend as a way to squeeze me out. My friend is the type of person who LOVES attention, and my ex was lavishing it on her. so it was really hard for my friend to see the manipulation that was going on, and that my ex was basically using her newfound friendship to hurt me. I was really hurt that my friend didn't have more loyalty to me and see through this. She had only known my ex for a couple months at this point, yet we had been friends for years.
Anyway, I know that's just how she is and how hard it is for her to turn down attention, so we eventually worked it out and she is able to maintain a friendship with my ex separately, and my ex and I just avoided eachother in social situations where the other would be there. This was the first conflict, but the worst was yet to come.
A few years ago, I was the IT manager of our local public library and needed to hire an assistant. Our administration was terrible at recruiting and did a crap job advertising the position. I sent a shout-out to friends and family asking if they knew anyone qualified to send their applications in. Well, my friend's sister's boyfriend was just such a person. He applied, and we interviewed him, and he actually ended up being the best candidate. With some hesitation, we hired him. The hesitation was not because of his skills, but because of the personal connection. I didn't really have a relationship with him or his girlfriend (my friend's sister), but I did know them both as we had run into eachother during social situations, etc. Anyway, I did walk into it with eyes wide open, and accepted the risks.
Unfortunately, as you can probably guess, that gamble didn't go well for me. After about a year and a half of him working for me, the boyfriend did something that resulted in his swift termination. The police even had to conduct an investigation, though he was never charged with anything. He was also banned from setting foot in the library. What happened is really, really bad. However, my employer and our attourney have ordered me to stay silent on this issue. This has been one of the most agonizing personal dilemmas I've had to deal with in my life. During his time employed with us, he got engaged to my friend's sister. I really, really wanted her to know the full details of what happened as I feel it is in her best interest, but of course I had been ordered not to speak about it. The less-than-satisfactory solution that I settled on was that I would reach out to her, let her know I was worried about her, and that if she ever wanted more information, she should talk to me. If she approached me, I would have made available to her some public records I knew of that would give her a clue about what happened. I let my friend and some other mutual friends know that I could point the sister towards those public records. The sister never, ever approached me, and from what I understand, hates my guts. My understanding is that the fiance did not give anyone the full details. They got married a few years later. To this day I struggle with how this went down. I have a lot of guilt, but I'm not sure what I would do differently. I still don't know if they even know the police were involved.
This all happened about 4-5 years ago. Now, my friend is engaged and getting married soon. A few months ago, she asked me to pick and choose which pre-wedding functions I wanted to go to so that she could invite me to some and my ex-girlfriend to others. First of all I don't give a shit if the ex is there, I can deal with her for a day. But I was a little offended that this was my friend's approach. I tried to be gracious about it and reassured her she should just invite me to whatever she wished to invite me to, and that there was no expectation or any hard feelings if she didn't invite me to something. I don't think she liked this answer.
About a week ago, I received an invitation to her bridal shower. It is being hosted by her sister, who despises me for firing her husband, and whom I feel incredibly uncomfortable around. Her husband will probably be there as well, whom I truly feel unable to be in the same room as.
I had not RSVP'd yet because I've been agonizing over it, but also because it is super unclear whom I'm supposed to RSVP to. It says it is hosted by her best friend and her sister, but the only contact information given anywhere on the invitation is her father on the return address of the envelope. My RSVP is due in 1 week, so I knew I needed to shit or get off the pot.
However, last night, she sent me this text: "To be clear I do not want you to skip all of the events surrounding my wedding, in fact that would be very hurtful to me. I was trying to be nice earlier in letting you pick. Clearly there was a misunderstanding so i wanted to speak over the phone but we are running out of time."
This "running out of time" made me realize she is planning on sending a 2nd round of invitations, probably including my ex-girlfriend. OOPS! Today I just texted her back -- super tacky RSVP I know, but I figured speed was of the essence - "No misunderstanding! I apologize, I didn't realize that my RSVP would affect the other invitations being sent out. I wasn't sure who to RSVP to, but I do apologize that I didn't follow up on this sooner. I will regrettably not be able to attend. Please go ahead and send any other invitations out that you need to."
The course of action I was leaning towards was to decline to attend, but send her a nice card and a generous shower gift. But now she is guilting me about not attending, which is worrisome, because honestly I had also planned not to attend her wedding either. The way I explained it to her a few years ago, was that I was sorry I had come into so much conflict with other people that she was close to, and that I understood the awkward place this put her in, and that I would be the one to defer. The guy I fired is part of her family now. I have no interest in trying to compete with that, or with making anything weird.
But she doesn't seem to get this. I still want to be her friend, and am happy to visit with her, but have to avoid this guy for my own mental health, and his wife/her sister to a lesser degree. Though I'm not sure I've ever laid it out for her that explicitly. Should I?
I know she's made a few faux paus and approached the invite thing with quite a bit of rudeness (and I didn't handle the RSVP very well, I should have just sent to her father?), but I'm not as worried about correct etiquette here, I just want to make sure I handle this the best way I can, and salvage at least some amicability between us if possible. She moved a few hours away a few years ago, so we see eachother much less often now anyway, so I need to tread carefully.
Also, fun tidbit: the theme of the shower is "Tacky." Tackiest dresser wins a prize. I'm not kidding. As I'm sure you can guess, cash bar. At least she is self-aware?