Monday, July 13, 2020
"You're going to take one for the team"
The issue at hand: My niece's bridal shower is August 1 at her mother-in-law's home in Holland, MI. I RSVP'd immediately that I'd attend via Zoom. Then my kid sister (the bride's mother) IM'd me. Did I want to play "Thelma" to her "Louise" and ride up to the shower with her?
My kid sister and I haven't been friendly for nearly 20 years. Initially, our fissure broke my heart. I helped raise my sister, tried hard to protect her from the ramifications of the disintegration of my parent's marriage,*and help guide her into adulthood. After she married, I was an ongoing source of financial support for her growing family. So when she suddenly let me have it with both barrels, I was shocked and appalled and beyond hurt. Apparently she'd been harboring anger and resentment toward me for decades, and she said some genuinely awful things.
There have been feeble attempts by both sides of rapprochement, but once my mother died, we rather gave up. With time -- and with my friend Henry's encouragement to examine her behavior more closely and with greater compassion -- I've concluded that my sister was dealing with post-partum depression when she lashed out at me. I understand how powerful both depression and hormones can be, and I'd be inclined to cut her slack, if only she'd apologize. She never has. So while I've forgiven her in my heart, that hasn't had a great deal of impact on my behavior. I don't trust her not to hurt me again.
Which is why my shrink recommends that I NOT travel to Michigan with my sister. So much can go wrong in 4+ hours in the car, then during the shower, and then in the 4+ hours back. Since my sister is driving, I'm dependent and vulnerable in this situation. And, to use a trite expression, there's been no evidence that this leopard has changed her spots.
Yet I'm going. Because it means so much to the bride, my niece. Thanks to Covid19, her wedding plans are falling apart around her and I want her to have at least this one happy, conventional bridal day. So even though it could be very awkward, it will only be one day (a day and a half, if we stay overnight), which isn't a long time when you consider the length of a lifetime.
There's a selfish aspect to this, too. I'll get to meet some of the groom's family at this get together. If by some miracle my niece's wedding actually happens, I'll see some familiar faces at the ceremony and won't feel quite so much like I'm entering an enemy camp.
So, as my therapist put it, "You're going to take one for the team, aren't you?"
Yes. And if it goes badly, I will count on my shrink to help glue me back together afterward.
*Though they never divorced. I wish they had. My sister and I would have experienced less day-to-day tension and hostility if they'd just given up and lived separately.