Monday, July 13, 2009

Should the drama stop the wedding?!... PART ONE

image from here

This post is/has probably been my most dreaded post to date... oh wait, that didn't sound right, it's the ONLY post I have been hesitant to write. The basics are this:

My disclaimer... drama is inherent in relationships, and I am certainly not going to say I have been dealt a bad hand of cards when it comes to my relationships (especially with my dad). I have been dealt my own hand, and I have NEVER felt sorry for myself, nor have I ever used my history/reality as a crutch in how I conduct myself in my personal/professional/emotional/spiritual/... journeys. BUT, every person's reality plays a part in defining their experiences, and I hope that my experiences with weddings/family/etc can shed perspective for some/all of my readers. This post (and the follow up) will contain my honest feelings/perceptions/experiences... no judgement required (please!).

  1. I have a very hot/cold relationship with my father... and have had for as long as I can remember

  2. My parents were divorced when I was 1-ish

  3. I lived with my mom full time, and for the first few years, my dad lived in another province... he drove/flew to see us every other weekend, as part of the visitation schedule; he later moved to the same city as my mom, and we saw each other on a similar schedule... maybe even a bit more

  4. My dad and step mom (oh ya, and new half-brother) moved to an acreage in Alberta, about 2 hours away from my mom, when I was 11-12-ish (don't remember the exact timing)
  5. Seeing my dad at his house on a regular basis made our relationship very sketchy... why? Because my dad is an alcoholic, and it wasn't until the farm that he stopped 'hiding' it from us... oh no, the booze started flowing quite openly

  6. I learned the concept of BOUNDARIES... yes, at the ripe age of 12ish (maybe even earlier!), I learned NOT to speak to my dad on the phone when he had been drinking, I could tell the differences in his voice (sober/not-sober), and maintained very strict boundaries on our relationship

  7. I quickly grew into a VERY strong, determined, and somewhat emotionally unavailable little girl

OK, fast forward to 2003. I move from Alberta to Ontario, and my dad helps me make the 40 hr drive across country. Things go OK, until we get to Toronto, and he goes out and gets drunk, asks me to pick him up, and when I call him out, he says some extremely hurtful things... I don't think I will shock you with the details, but suffice it to say he crossed a line never to be erased again. From there, the relationship looks more like this:

  1. I only speak to my dad on the phone under controlled circumstance.

  2. We start to rebuild the trust

  3. When I tell him about a cycling trip I have planned, he asks if he can join me... and I say yes

  4. At the start of the trip he gets drunk, drives my car drunk, and I tell him to leave, find his way to the airport, I will NOT continue the trip with him (I told you I have some serious conviction when it comes to boundaries!!)

  5. Pretty much the last straw that broke our relationship's back!! (NOTE: many many many hurtful exchanges excluded from this brief summary)

  6. Dad barely knows my groom-to-be... in fact, has NEVER been to visit me since I moved back to AB... we have only seen each other at family functions, or when I have gone to his house for one of my lil brother/sister's birthday, etc.

OK, hopefully you're still with me, and are not too uncomfortable with the candidness of this post... I know it is a bit selfish of me to lay this on you, my cherished readers, but I hope that for any of you struggling with wedding/family issues, you can see my perspective on one way to deal with them!

Switching gears a bit, this is how I have felt about weddings until about 1.5-2 years ago:

  1. I did NOT want to have a wedding... EVER!!

  2. I did NOT want to get married... EVER!!

  3. I imagined myself living alone, as a single mom... HAPPILY!!

Then, after meeting my man, learning (a long, sensitive road of discovery) to love and be loved by a man, who, sidenote, wanted to get married... wedding and all... my thoughts on weddings started to evolve:

  1. I am a STRONG WOMAN

  2. I have a MAN that LOVES ME

  3. WE deserve to get married in front of our friends and families

  4. The only reasons I didn't want a wedding (or at least the MAIN reasons) was because I didn't want my dad walking me down the aisle, I didn't want to dance a father-daughter dance, and I didn't want my dad to get on a microphone in the reception

  5. I want to honour my mom, and the amazing support, guidance, love... unconditional love... she has provided me my ENTIRE life... I wanted my mom to walk me down the aisle!

  6. If I stayed true to my personal beliefs, and we created a wedding that would be an authentic experience with no farces or fake impressions, a wedding could (WOULD) be an amazing celebration of our love

  7. I WANTED A WEDDING... an authentic one!!

So, obviously we decided to have a wedding... that meant one major thing: My dad had to be brought up to date on the fact that my mom would be walking me down the aisle. This emotional journey will be shared in the follow up post... I hope you come back!

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  1. Stay strong.

    I think lots of people can relate to the less-than-perfect familial sitch.

  2. Wow, family drama is indeed rough. Concentrate on your amazing husband to be and stay strong.

  3. Whoa! I think it's really brave you posted that. I am right there with you. I have a similar story but with a different ending. My dad took the same path and is now in a nursing home with no short-term memory so in a way, luckily, because he's so far gone and I don't talk to him anymore, I can also be worry free of the "dad" issue at my wedding. I've asked my mom to walk my down the aisle as well.

    I think you should do what YOU want to do. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Don't let other people tell you how to love/hate your father. When my dad's sister tried to interfere with my decision not to see or talk to my father again it was beyond infuriating but I knew I was making the right decision for myself and didn't care what anyone else thought of it.

    I am a million times happier and guilt free now!

    Just do what you need to do to be happy.

    Good luck!

    PS. LOVE that you're Canadian Whooohoo!

  4. It was was really brave of you to post this, thank you for shairng so much with your readers.

  5. Thanks for your support ladies... it feels great to have know I am safe to share my 'deepests' here with you all!

  6. Found this from Miss Swan's post today on WB. The both of you have inspired me to write my own "daddy issue" post. Thanks :) I'm looking forward to Part Two.

  7. Hi Em! Thanks for droppin in for my perspective... I am always amazed at how many of share family issues (let alone any other wedding related issues!!). The blog world has really helped me keep perspective on things we think we are dealing with alone! I am still processing the conversation with my dad, but I will share it as soon as I can effectively put words to it!

  8. I'm only reading this a few days after you posted it. I can empathize completely with a father who hasn't always done the best things - alcohol and otherwise.

    You're right to do it your way - with your mom walking you down the aisle. I think that's a great idea.