Releasing the past in order to find myself

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Wedding Story

I've gone back and forth about writing this.  Part of me feels like it would be rehashing old crap.  And in the end, I really enjoyed my wedding, so it's not like I have anger to process about it.  But looking back with adjusted hindsight, I see things so much differently.  It truly was a road marker in so many things in my life.  My relationship with my mother changed.  My relationship with my MIL changed.  My husband and I began some of the hardest work of our marriage at this time due to the insanity that surrounded our big day.  That work continues today, but is amazingly easier now due to our new found knowledge.
But it's a story I want to share, and really one that is a beautiful example of how the narcs can make a big day all about them.  Here are the key players and how the contributed to our wedding:

"Friend"-  This person was one of DH's oldest and "dearest" friends.  He had hated me from the beginning.  I always had thought he was an ass.  I mean the guy was flat out rude to me.  But looking back, he is the one the biggest narcs I've ever met.  He hated me because he blamed me for DH no longer wanting to travel the world after college with him.  They'd had big plans and had talked of doing all kinds of things.  But when I came onto the scene, all that changed.  And "Friend" was angry.  He was rude and flippant, masking it by being claiming things as "jokes".  Fortunately, he graduated shortly after I met DH and took off, so I didn't have to deal with him much.  Except when he came to our wedding.  The conflict between me and "friend" was tearing DH up.  And I knew what would happen.  "Friend" showed up and hooked up with my sister (NSis).  Awesome.  And not only did the hook up, but it became a huge scene as my sister (who was an adult and really didn't need this type of supervision) was chased all over the resort at night by my mother.  NSis would stay out late drinking, NM would go looking for here because NSis was staying in her room.  My mother hauled my sister out of a room in front of all of my friends.  It was awesome.  "Friend" thought it was funny.

DH's friends.  Many of these people also didn't like me when I met DH.  The told me later that they had expect me to "prove" myself worthy of DH (yes. prove my self worthy) by being put through a "gauntlet" (their words) of "tests".  Seriously, WTF?  I chalk this up to insecurity and also to being the first serious "girlfriend" any of them had.  My relationship with DH threatened their party boy ways and they knew it.this didn't excuse them being complete jerks.  I refused to put up with their bullshit.  But I didn't punch them in the face either, which I probably should've done at the time.  Just kidding.  Most of them had come around by the time we got married (and lots I really cared for) but a couple of stong holds decided to do a couple of fucked up things.  Not big things, just things to cause drama, which really didn't help at the time.

NSis- As said above, she created lots of drama, running around and not being a grown up and communicating with my mother.  But, at the time, I was just relieved that she wasn't embarrasing me more.  NSis has the propensity to go off shift, especially when drinking.  I worried about her fighting with me, or being a bitch to my friends.  Or generally causing a scene.  So, that she mostly behaved worked for me at the time.  Sure, she flipped out on me for plucking her eyebrows.  She had asked me to and became enraged that it hurt and that I'd fucked up her one eyebrow and refused to let me do the other.  She pouted on occasion.  She fulfilled her "basic" maid-of-honor duties, but really be helpful, nope.  But I was always worried she'd get upset.

NM-  NM, sigh.  NM started with me the minute I called to tell her I was engaged.  She freaked out.  And not in a good way.  She started yelping about how she had just been upset last week that she was turning 50.  And that she was having a hard time and she couldn't deal with a daughter getting married (I was not particularly young by the way).  She threw the phone at my step-father and refused to talk to me.  No congratulations or I'm happy for you.
But then, in true narc form, she turned a corner and took over.  She was overbearing and intrusive, but I knew all mother's of the bride were.  The costs of the wedding were being split amongst me and DH and then our three sets of parents would contribute a set smaller amount of equal value for each.  But NM wanted to run the show.  I made a lot of my own decisions, but NM had to find something to stamp of her's on everything.  She insisted I wear white gloves with my dress.  She bought things for the reception without asking.  But, hey,  she was getting me things, so I had no right to complain, in her eyes.  If I did disagree with her she'd blame it on my lingering anger over my parents divorce.  I know we had quite a few heated arguments   But I decided which elements I cared most about and let her have the little things.  So, she designs these favors for the tables and reception decorations.  All on her own.  And then, the day of the wedding, she complains to me that SHE had to put up all these decorations by herself (I had a caterer to run things for me the day of the event...oh, we had the wedding at the place where I worked, so the staff were all my friends and took extra good care of me.)  But NM complained that while "everyone" was off getting ready, SHE was slaving away decorating.  She complained that she hadn't had "any" time to get ready.  She complained that she didn't have enough say in things.  She complained I didn't let her help and then complained that she had to do something.  It went on and on.  When I asked her how my makeup looked the day of the ceremony, she insisted on "fixing" my eyes for me.  My eyes didn't need fixing and she really just put on an act.  She had lots of complaints the next day about things.  She was loads of fun.

NMIL-  Before the wedding, NMIL was, plainly, a pain in the ass.  Back then, she had far fewer reservations about steam rolling me. She had an opinion, and not a tactful opinion, about almost everything.  She hated my headpiece (she liked the wedding cake one she wanted for me).  She wanted the wedding to be at Christmas (I figure either because it is when she also got married, or because she didn't like that we were living "in sin".)  She really pushed for that one.  She pushed the type of jewelry that she would prefer I wear.  She pushed for me to allow her to make my wedding flowers from fake flowers.  Because she knew someone and they had recently showed her and her friend said that it would be cheaper....blah, blah.  All I knew is that this woman has not a crafty finger in her body.  I finally let her make the throw away bouquet.  Thank god I got to throw it away.  It was horrendous.  Because my SIL and BIL were also getting married, she really pushed for us to allow her to throw a big "extra" reception in her town.  She insisted she'd throw us  this big reception, pushed the idea on me and SIL repeatedly.  She tried to sway me with "you can wear your dress again!"  But I knew that if we had a second reception (one I'd have to share with SIL and have no say so in) no one would travel to my wedding.  That, in the end, it would only be my family and friends at our wedding.  I said no.  This did not go over well.  Then, she wanted to invite everyone in the damn county. As it was, DH's guests outnumbered mine 3 to 1.  She threw a tissy fit when I cut all of her church friends.  We just could not accommodate more guests.  She wanted to tack one of our invitations in the church hallway (she thought I was just being cheap and not wanting to order more invitations).  I stuck my ground but she stated that in her town everyone is invited (I tried to explain that at this resort, you get one set amount of people).  I also refused her insistence of having a shower in her town (because it would've been ONLY her friends and some family).  She pushed that I do my wedding registry at a place that her mother (but not most of the other guests) would be able to shop.  She pushed that I at least get my dishes from there because that is what her mother wanted to buy me.  It pissed them off when I said no (I did put some items on the registry from that store).  When I told her I was doing a photo video of DH and I growing up and I needed photos of DH and family, she shoved all these other photos at me.  Like, just general family photos.  I told her that I wanted it to be about DH growing up, she still didn't get that it wasn't just any old family photos (But she was my great grandma and I loved her!  She argued over one photo that DH was nowhere to be seen in).    In a weird twist, she paid for BIL and SIL to have a teeth cleaning for their wedding.  She just couldn't understand why I didn't need to have her do that for me (I got regular checkups and I thought it was weird).  Luckily, I got off the hook a bit, as SIL was also getting married, but in her town, so SIL had thrown a lot of the work on MIL.
During my bachelorette party, MIL caused a huge fight because she failed to invite her sister.  She had been told to by my SIL and it was expected she would but then, at dinner I looked around and noticed this aunt was missing. MIL sputtered that she wasn't sure if I'd really wanted other people there.  Aunt was pissed off at me.  I spent a lot of my dinner and a lot of my evening trying to make it up to her.  To explain that I hadn't left her out.  It really, really sucked.  Aunt was crying, I was upset, and NM was no where to be found.
During the wedding though, guess what?  No NM.  She stayed on the edge.  She flit around in the background.  She did not tell me congratulations on my wedding day.  Or that I looked nice.  Or welcome to the family.  Nope.  She didn't say a word to me!

NSis-in-law-NSIL has been a rival of mine from the beginning.  Not from my side.  I don't play that kind of bullshit.  But she's been envious and pulled all kinds of one-up-manship crap on me the entire time I've known her.  It's only recently that she hasn't veiled it behind a mask of "friendship".   So, when DH and I got engaged, she was quick on our heels.  She and BIL are 2 years younger than me, 4 years younger than DH, and were not out of college, but they were racing us to the alter.  Right from the beginning, she competed with dresses and rings.   And when I announced my wedding date, she picked a weekend THREE WEEKS before that.  Thank god, we were able to get them to change their date, but it was tough for awhile.  She actually had the gaul to ask me why it bothered me so much.  She ended up having her wedding three months before ours.  Like I said, I think the drama surrounding her wedding really kept some drama away from me.  SIL had MIL and FIL pay for A LOT of their wedding.  MIL and her mother fought and argued and when DH and I showed up in town, the tension was ridiculous.  But through it all, I could feel the competition of it all.  She chose a dress very similar to mine.  She made she she had equal to or better what she thought we had.  But then, like MIL, during my wedding she disappeared.  For most of the weekend, she had a "migraine" and stayed in her hotel room.  She just wasn't there a lot.  I remember BIL approaching me and saying she was sorry but sick.  I didn't think too much of it at the time, but looking back (with the experience of three birthday parties for my kids in which she's caused a scene) I'm guessing it was a psychological migraine.

So, I had all these key players floating around.  In addition,  I was attempting to keep my step dad and father from having to interact (they don't care for each other), keep my step mother comfortable (she and NM have tension), make everyone comfortable while being forced to be together.  Some assholes ordered a bunch of nasty strippers for my husband's bachelor party which was next door to where we were (we were at a resort).  As you can imagine, this did not go over well with these men's spouses.  All kinds of drama happened (luckily not with me and DH...he spent most of the time out with me in the other room).  People told me I was too controlling over the details.  Mostly I found that people wanted control over the big details, but no one really wanted to help.  Everyone wanted to pick my dress or the flowers, but no one wanted to address envelopes or pick up tuxes or that kind of shit.  MIL wanted all these people and to add on all this expense, but didn't want to give any more money (she refused to accept I had a budget.)   People criticized me because I was hyper organized before the event.  I had charts and shit for the wedding party so I didn't have to holler or push people around or corral people in order to get the rehearsal done.  We had a lot of people, unruly people, I thought a damn diagram was brilliant! ;).  I had people complain that I didn't have an open bar and that we ran out of food early (we did, but that's because around 20 people crashed).  DH's grandmother demanded I start the food line immediately as I entered the room because "people are hungry!".   It was maybe 7 p.m?  And we had appetizers.  My DJ refused to play what I wanted and played some crazy shit at times.  NM complained she couldn't dance.  My FIL spent a chunk of the reception watching a football game in another room.  I had relatives I hadn't seen in years pushing for my time.  And I was in charge of the whole damn thing (no mother of the bride to put in charge, or a wedding planner, nope it was me).

And it all came off.  I had a lovely day.  I organized the shit (controlled the controllables, as Vanci would say) and rolled with that shit on my wedding day.  I ignored anything and anyone who wasn't fun.  I let it go and had a brilliant time.   Looking back, I'm damn proud of myself for making it through it all.  I'm proud that  DH and I have come so far in our marriage and the way we deal with that bullshit now.  It's a beautiful day because I remember him and I having fun.  And fuck the rest of 'em.  Happy Valentine's Day Folks!


  1. jessie,
    Holy carp, that's a cluster fuck. I'm so glad that you had a good time anyway, but holy carp. You and DH need to start planning a banner anniversary in a few years where you go away to a resort. Alone. With no one else. Your kids will be old enough, and you'll just be blissfully in love away from that vortex of drama.

    Enjoyed your wedding day? Good for you, but I'm just surprised that you survived it.


    1. You know, I think I had to post this story because it so clearly shows me how far I've come. I mean, at the time, I was thrilled. It had gone off well (and I might add there was additional bullshit too) in my mind. No one fought! No one threw a tissy fit! Everyone behaved!
      God lord. I look back and see how crazy it was and it's nice to see I've made lots of progress.

  2. I think there's something of value in sharing this story, for sure. Weddings seem to be such major issue for anyone dealing with narcissists - especially NMs. My guess is that it's because weddings are a huge operation that can give them a ton of potential control and also plenty of payoff (attention, anyone?) They want to run the show and they want to use it to their advantage. Think your mother cares about you? See how she handles your wedding day. Think your MIL cares about you? See how she handles it too. It's so telling, when they march in with all of their demands, and yet they always have such a complete lack of interest in what the couple getting married actually wants and needs.

    1. This experience, as well as the birth of my children, were the biggest eye openers of my life. I had no desire to be a "bridezilla" or be totally in charge, but I did have the assumption that these times would be about me (and DH and our kids). I was shocked at how many times they tried to ram their own agendas down my throat.
      When my last son was born, after surgery, I was placed in a room with three other women. I was not actually in room at all, but crammed into an entry way. I had no privacy, I was miserable, and people were coming and going like crazy. NMIL and FIL had shown up early in the morning (like when I was due to just be getting out of surgery) and she was pressing DH on the phone as to when they could come. Here we are miserable and trying to deal with a boat load of things (and enjoy our newborn) and all she can think about is that they are driving around town with nothing to do. I thought, geez lady, no one told you to come so early, and YOU are not our priority right now. Most grown ups would be able to figure something out to do and would say, OK, call us when it settles down, we'll go have some coffee. But no, she's harrassing DH on the phone.
      Never a dull moment.

  3. Always a dead give away: "She started yelping about how she had just been upset last week that she was turning 50."

    NMIL did the same thing when we announced our pregnancy. "I'm too young to be a grandma!"

  4. You can truly be proud of yourself Jessie, this was no mean feat considering the amount of crazy, self-centered people you had to deal with. This bit cracked me up "Everyone wanted to pick my dress or the flowers, but no one wanted to address envelopes or pick up tuxes or that kind of shit." there it is, the whole essence of how narcissists operate, in just one sentence. They always want a say in things but when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and helping out... nope, no chance. They're gone faster than road-runner ;)

    1. My FIL, years later (in that confrontation I told you about my BIL's wedding) said, "you had lots of help when you got married. You had your mom. BIL and SIL are just looking for the same kind of help." I almost fell over. It amazed me that he could be so oblivious to our relationship's truth. And it amazed me that he thought I had had any help at all.
      Everyone was insistent to tell me HOW they would help. Exactly what they wanted to do for me. And while I didn't want to be some troll, dishing out orders, the things they wanted to be in charge of were ridiculous. No one wanted to do any of the menial bits. None of it. And so I did it all. Or most of it. Or hired a staff of my friends to do it for me.

    2. Jessie, I eloped because upon hearing about my engagement (I was out of college and living on my own at this point), every single member of my NFOO chose not to congratulate me, but instead begin barking demands that I would do THIS and not THAT, that I would invite THIS person but not THAT person Nobody from my side of the family was contributing even a cent toward my big day (not a surprise--they didn't contribute even a cent to my college education, either), but they sure felt like they could make demands.

      I ended up getting married at Town Hall with my best friends in attendance, then throwing a big dinner party at a restaurant in town. It was such a huge, huge relief--I contacted the restaurant a month before and asked if they could put something together for about a hundred people (none of the NFOO), and the restaurant (a small, family-owned place) was thrilled for the business and even threw in the wine as their gift to us.

      A few years after that my NSis was married (a huge Princess-Diana-type affair), and not a single member of the NFOO said a single thing about my wedding. Put it in perspective how they felt about me.

  5. Jessie, I read your wedding story and got goose bumps. My MIL has NPD, but at the time of my wedding I was still blissfully ignorant of her games. However, she showed her true colors in the few weeks before our wedding and at the wedding itself. My FIL and MIL would rave about me to anyone who would listen, and called their other DIL names behind her back, what a horrible wife she was etc. Then they had their first child, and all of a sudden she is telling everyone how wonderful her other DIL is... again, I thought it was weird how they could talk behind her back for so long (it always made me uncomfortable), but whatever.

    The NPD started to escalate at our wedding rehearsal when my MIL trapped me in the corner and asked that her dear DIL ride in our limo. I truly did not have room, and was already allowing my in-laws and mother into the limo, so I said no. She ignored me the rest of the evening. There were a lot of other small things in hindsight that pointed to NPD at the rehearsal, but this was teh first time I had said "no" to her outright and boy would I pay for it.

    Then, the part of your wedding story which gave me goosebumps because it was exactly what happened to me... "During the wedding though, guess what? She stayed on the edge. She flit around in the background. She did not tell me congratulations on my wedding day. Or that I looked nice. Or welcome to the family. Nope. She didn't say a word to me!" My MIL did the EXACT SAME THING. She did throw a hissy fit before walking down the aisle at the church though because the church organist was playing Ave Maria, and it was "such a painful song for her". When my husband called her out on this behavior a couple of months after the wedding (my MIL continued to ignore me), she claimed that we had a lovely conversation on my wedding, day, becuase that's what mothers do. WOW. Also, quite tellingly, she and my SIL were the only ones to not give my husband and I a wedding card. Again, because they cannot bring themselves to congratulate anyone on anything.

    Just wanted to share my story and some of the parallels. Thank you for writing your blog, it has given me so much validation about my own narcissitic in-laws!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so sorry to hear that someone else has gone through these experiences, but I'm glad you have found some validation. I've found that finding validation has made all the difference for me too.

      Thanks for stopping by ANON and hope you'll comment again.

      Oh, and be careful and don't let yourself get cornered again. That's how I always got in trouble with my MIL...when she didn't have any witnesses.