Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Mountaintop Wedding - Torn

photo from [6:8] Photography

My makeup was done, and it was time to start the hair. We were running a bit behind schedule, but I wasn't going to get too worked up about it. There was one thing left that needed a decision... and this is where I felt TORN.

If you have been reading a while, you will remember that I have had some struggles with my father. I wrote a (PART 1) post on whether or not my dad would be walking me down the aisle... and I never finished the story. I had a couple of reasons for not finishing it, but for all of you out there who were awaiting the results, it wasn't fair of me to leave you hanging. I didn't write about it again, because it was simply too painful. BUT, the wedding has come and gone, and I really want to share the story with you now, so that it can serve as 'one bride's experience' that might help other ladies in similar situations prepare for what family-conflict really looks like in a wedding.

So, backing up... I told you all that I did NOT want my dad walking me down the aisle. And I didn't. I felt very strongly about it. You all gave me strength to trust my own emotions and perspectives, and I forged ahead with my plan... my mom would walk me down the aisle. Period. I set a date to go and talk with my dad, my fiance in tow, and this is generally how it went:

ME: "So, dad, I am going to tell you something that you probably won't like hearing. I want you to know though that I am not telling you this to hurt you, but because it is very important to me. I want my mom to walk me down the aisle".
DAD: "As in, you want your mom to walk you down the aisle with me?"
ME: "No, I want my MOM to walk me down the aisle"
DAD: "Well, if you do that, there is no f-in way I will be at your wedding. AND, you can count on the rest of my family not being there as well"
ME: "I am sorry you feel that way dad. I obviously want you to be a part of the day, and I thought you would understand that my mom deserved this role, since she has been my rock throughout my entire life".
DAD: ... let's bring up every LAST issue we have ever encountered in our relationship, and try to use it to manipulate Tiffany into coming to her senses, and have me walk her down the aisle because I will be so damn embarrassed if I have to sit in the audience and watch her mom do it.
ME: "dad, please, if you want to discuss this, can you NOT open that bottle of wine?"
DAD:.... oh, now she is going to tell me not to drink. Yes, I am an alcoholic, but I can not face this torture of hearing that I am not important enough in my daughter's life to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, and I HAVE TO DRINK...
ME: "this obviously isn't going anywhere, I am leaving"

It was a very dramatic conversation, and I left devastated. My man was finally witness to the drama that is my father, and I think the experience helped him to understand me even better. BUT, at the end of the day, my dad told me he wouldn't come to my wedding. AND, he promised to tell the rest of his family not to come either. This might seem trivial to some people, but I am extremely close to his family, and they made up more than 1/3 of our guestlist! Although it should be true that if they weren't there to support me, and if they chose my dad over me, then they weren't that important in the first place, but come on, as a bride, I did not want to come face to face with that reality on my wedding day?!

So, I don't speak to my dad for the month or so between that conversation and our wedding. I email him and leave voicemails to find out whether or not he is attending the wedding. He finally emails me back (three days before the wedding) to tell me that he has decided he will come to the wedding, but to nothing else (bbq, brunch, etc), and he will not participate at all in the wedding events. I should have been happy right?! Well, the simple fact is this: there was NO good solution. At this stage of the game, the hurt had been suffered, the hurtful words had been spoke, and it was simply a lose-lose situation.

The day before the wedding we had a rehearsal. My mom walked me down the aisle. I bawled. I imagined the look on my dad's mom and sister's faces as they watched my mom walk me down the aisle. I wondered if I was making the right decision. I wondered if it was going to ruin my day the next afternoon seeing the hatred in their eyes knowing I had hurt my dad so much by excluding them (I have seen this look before, and it sucks!).

The picture at the top of the post is just as I was about to get my hair done. My sister came to me asking what I was thinking about my dad. I told her I didn't know what to do. She told me she could have a discussion with him, telling him that I might want him to walk with my mom. That it didn't change the relationship, but that I didn't want any drama on my wedding day. I told my sister I didn't know what to do. And to you my readers, I really honestly didn't know what to do. The daughter in me that had been hurt time and time and time again did NOT want my dad walking me down the aisle... to be perfectly honest, part of me didn't even want him there at all. BUT, the bride in me didn't want the drama. I wanted my nana to give me a hug and kiss after the ceremony and tell me she loved me... she probably wouldn't even look at me if I excluded my dad. The bride in my wanted peace. The daughter in me didn't want to fake anything... because my dad has people who fake peace with him all the f-in time. The daughter in me wanted payback for all the pain he had caused me. The bride in me wanted PEACE.

And so, the team meeting shown above resulted in my sister talking to my dad, and eventually, to my dad walking on the other side of me. I would love to tell you all that I have no regrets with my decision, but that would be a lie. The daughter in me definitely regrets it. BUT, the bride in me was thankful to at least avoid drama on my wedding day. The daughter in me is ashamed at the decision, and for not being true to myself and my feelings. The bride in my sees pictures of me dancing with my nana at the reception and smiles. The daughter in me knows that I have no relationship with my dad, but I still allowed him to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. The bride in me also knows that I have no relationship with my dad, and that him walking me down the aisle was a concession for a simple and happy day. The WIFE in me knows that I can only move forward, knowing that I made the decision I felt most comfortable with at the time, and that my husband loves me and supports me every moment of every day, and he does not judge me for my decision. The WIFE in me knows that I have a man now that will never let me down, and this makes the hurt imposed by my father so much less significant.

And so brides, I can only tell you this: I empathize with all of you facing family dramas. No matter what decisions are made, family issues suck. They don't disappear on your wedding day. Have faith that the right decision will come to you, even if it is on the morning of your wedding. But also be prepared for the emotion... I thought I would be a rock, and I would be able to say f-you, this is my wedding. But emotions are real, and they will creep in, no matter how hard you work to keep them at bay. But, use the love and commitment of the support system you have assembled around you to make those difficult decisions... it will all work out in the end!

Good luck ladies! Thanks for listening, and thanks for you support. I hope my decision didn't let you all down.

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  1. wow, this was a very intense post- and perfect for stuff going on right now in our life.
    Thank you so very much for sharing. It's so nice to hear an HONEST post about these issues- it makes me feel less alone. :)

  2. **Hugs** Thank you for sharing this. It's nice to hear the "real" stuff sometimes.

  3. I think you made the right decision. Not because your dad deserved to be there, but because YOU deserved the peace. You owe your father nothing. His reaction to you informing him of your decision is telling. And I'm sorry your dad's family members would have been upset if you had made the decision you wanted.

    You didn't fail the daughter in you. The daughter got peace because the bride got peace. Your father knows how you feel now - that your mom is your rock who raised you, and that as a father, he failed you. So the daughter in you can take pride in your actions.

    Thank you for your honesty.

  4. thank you for sharing this and i agree that you made the right decision because you deserved the peace.

    anyway, your guest blog post is up now. thanks again for doing this.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this. I too have father issues that need to be sorted out before our wedding. You shouldn't have regrets, things happen for a reason. I thought you were very brave.

  6. as always, my readers are the best!! thanks for your unwavering support... even when I wavered to be confident myself!! I really do appreciate it!

  7. Thank you for sharing this...your story hits very close to home for me. I plan to walk down by myself- give myself into this marriage. I don't want to do a Father-Daughter dance, but I know my husband will want to dance with his mom & my family will strongly expect me to, so I am thinking about doing it at the same time with one song. Again, about keeping the peace.

    One thing I know for sure is when tough decisions come our way, there is never a right or wrong... it is right vs. right. You did what you needed to do in that moment. Regards of the choice you made, you would have feelings about what if you had made another one. The daughter in you knows that those few moments walking down did not repair years worth of pain. You didn't fake anything. You deserved to have peace on your day and it seems you acheived it with your decision. Even having the conversation with your dad speaks volumes of your strength. Your Dad now knows how you feel when you look back over the story of your life. In fact, he might also know that the only reason why you went ahead with having him walk with you was for the sake of other family members. Take pride in your choices- by allowing him to walk with you, you choose to *not* to allow him to make the day about him and his addiction.

  8. @ Clover, nice to 'meet' you, and thanks for stopping by. I am glad that you can relate to my situation, and I wish you strength and courage as you figure out your own best laid plans!