Sunday, April 28, 2013
One Bridal Shower, Two Bachelorette Parties, and Several Pity Parties
My friends and the brides-to-be, Lillian and Nora, got engaged in December 2011 and April 2012, respectively. They are both marrying great men. With more than a decade of friendship with each of these women, I mean it when I say that I'm deeply happy for both of them. They have been loving and consistent friends to me over the years and it's so cool to see them being so loved and appreciated by their fiances.
But one of the bitches of getting divorced is how you can experience polar opposite emotions at the exact same time during a singular experience. (See Changing My Name.) I'll admit that these friends' engagements have also piqued feelings of utter sadness and self-pity.
In June of 2012, just three days after Max dropped the life-changing bomb that he wasn't attracted to me, I went to Lillian's engagement party alone. (Max was out of town.) The party was outdoors under a tent, complete with flowers in mason jars and live music. It was a beautiful summer night, and just perfect for celebrating Lillian's engagement. Instead, for me, my world was in turmoil, and no one knew yet. I was so utterly miserable that I only stayed for an hour before disappearing and driving an hour to my parents' open arms. This is completely uncharacteristic of me, but I couldn't bear another second of bridal bliss before I'd end up sobbing in the soft grass.
A month later, Max and I attended Nora's engagement party. We were the first guests to arrive and among the last to leave. Little did we know at the time that it would be the last function we would attend as a couple. The tension between us was palpable, as I already felt like I didn't know how to act around him anymore. Meanwhile, everyone gushed over their happiness for Nora. As her bridesmaid and dear friend, I agreed wholeheartedly. I also wanted to vomit, or maybe break things.
Now, here it is nine months later. I'm divorced and it was time to go to more bridal events. At Lillian's bachelorette, I was the sole divorced person. At Nora's bachelorette, I wasn't the only divorced friend but my marriage corpse was the most fresh. Since at both events the wine flowed like, well, wine, I drank plenty and probably talked too much about my newfound singlehood. (Sorry ladies.) But, I did OK as far as being a fun guest and toasting my friends. But on the inside, my heart hurt. Why didn't my marriage work? Why was I in such denial about seeing the signs? Would I ever find love like Lillian's and Nora's again?
Since I did OK at Lillian's bachelorette, I was a total idiot about Nora's bridal shower. Of course my first shower post-divorce would touch a nerve, but I just didn't think of it. I'm a big believer in being prepared for everything, including emotional outbursts, and I was woefully under prepared.
I arrived at Nora's shower a bit bleary-eyed after Lillian's bachelorette, but with a pretty dress and a smile on my face, I was pleased to be there and make it a nice afternoon for Nora. As the happy occasion got underway, I became more and more quiet. (This is very unlike me!) By the time the bridesmaids assembled to assist with the gift unwrapping, I was closer to (internally) losing my cool. As I tore open the wrapping paper and loosened the ribbons on the gifts from Bed Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel -- the same places where I registered for my wedding -- I was flooded with memories of the wonderful shower Max's and my moms threw for us. At my shower, I was so optimistic and nearly bursting with love and joy from my full heart for Max and our families and friends -- which was exactly how Nora looked. Well, you know what happened next -- I ended up sobbing in the ladies room. (I have cried a lot of divorce-related tears in various bathroom stalls.)
(The crazy part of this story is when I got home. I walked in the door, looked at Max, and said, "Can I come be sad?" He replied, "yes," and just opened his arms. I cried on him for 10 minutes. How odd that the best person to comfort me was my ex-husband.)
The good news is that Nora had no idea that her bliss evoked such self-pity for me, which was the most important thing to me. Every bride should feel as elated as I did leading up to my wedding. My mixed emotions have created a balancing act that I'll have to walk.
Oh, and waterproof mascara -- that will be required for my friends' weddings in June.
How did you handle wedding-related events after your breakup?