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Wedding : Independence, stage fright, bridesmaids, showers, and funerals

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When you think about it, we all begin our lives being pushed around in chairs (or something even more glamorous like the green spaceship I saw the other morning) like little kings and queens. Now that I’m a grown-up, it would seem as though it’s all downhill from there…

 

Then again, many of us end our lives being pushed around in chairs, and that’s not exactly something we look forward to. Truth be told, as wonderfully relaxing as it may look to some of us between the ages of 4 and 80, the chair-pushing never actually makes us happy because it fucks with our independence. And to many of us, freedom and independence seem as necessary as air. And so those of us can never relax into being pushed or carried, no matter how appropriate it may be, because we will constantly be thinking about how we should be doing the work ourselves.

 

That is me. In this wedding, in this life, needing to walk on my own.

 

I chose not to have bridesmaids for several reasons: Scott didn’t want to choose anyone for a wedding party, I didn’t think I could count on the people I did want to choose for either geographical or emotional reasons, and I didn’t want to pick and choose among the people I did know I could count on. I also didn’t want anyone to feel the resentment that often comes with the financial and time commitments associated with the word “bridesmaid.”

 

I thought I could [and maybe I still can] craft a wonderfully “DIT” wedding where everyone who wanted to contribute could contribute however they felt they could. Where people could have little roles or tasks that were manageable, without feeling like they were as swallowed whole by this wedding as I have been.

 

But it turns out, when you’re someone like me, it’s not that easy to ask for help—to the point where your brain has decided that there really isn’t anything for anyone else to do anyway.

 

And when your problem is as extreme as mine, when it comes to things that you really cannot do—like throw your own bridal shower—and others decide to do it for you, you may wind up FREAKING OUT.

 

I have always had a problem with “stage fright”. This stems from an incident, at 3, where I tripped over my uncle’s foot and slammed my head into a chair leg. I still have the physical and emotional scars. I cried, he cried, the entire room (it was a party) swooped in on me, and I remember feeling frantically that the thing I wanted most in the world was for all of them to stop paying attention to me. To this day, when someone bestows kindness on me in a stressful situation I still cry.

 

But I am, in my deepest darkest heart of hearts, a performer. This lasting affects of this incident have made it difficult, but I pursued. Four was a particularly tough year: first I ran out of our “exhibition class” at dance school, and it took me 5 years to return to dancing;  my first appearance at a wedding—as flower girl for my godmother—resulted in me screaming “I quit this wedding” as soon as I saw everyone looking at me, and running down a side aisle into my mother’s arms. I spent most of the reception (and many other family gatherings), playing under the table.

 

Despite returning to ballet, I frequently lost my shit before going on stage, and thusly, never performed quite the way I did in rehearsal. I suffered through auditions, but the fear affected me so physically that they were always disastrous.

 

I spent my teenage years having birthday parties that involved day trips or vacations with 1 or 2 close friends, and avoiding the larger “surprise” parties my friends tried to throw. At 16, I spent 6 months not speaking to the lovely Aimee, simply because she tried to throw me a birthday party. The only party I ever enjoyed was once I thought was for someone else, and then it wound up being for me too. Surprise.

 

Ironically, in the last year, I’ve taken a couple of acting classes and that is like a whole new ballgame. Improv exercises still freak me out, because—like dancing—you’re really still being you. But I found that playing a character is becoming an advocate for someone else, and that is something I know how to do. Even with only a few weeks to work on a monologue or scene, I realized I will fight desperately to make this character heard (and to make others do the same) no matter what I may look or sound like in the process. It was exhilarating.

 

But when it comes to being me in a room full of people there to celebrate me?

 

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Let’s just say that my shower began at 2pm, at my friend’s parents’ house about 10 blocks away.

 

And where was I? I was sobbing hysterically in the shower, then on the couch, then while trying on clothes in a frantic effort to not think about how whatever I picked would be what I was wearing at my only shower ever.

 

I had not been expecting this.

 

I had seen 75% of my shower attendees at a wine-tasting “high school reunion” trip the day before and there was zero anxiety about any of it. The stressful conversation Scott and I were having about money until about 1:30pm when I freaked out that I hadn’t gotten ready yet may have had something to do with it, as could’ve the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything other than a protein shake all day.

 

Or maybe I just missed my mom.

 

Cause, you know, showers are mom things.

 

Whatever the reason, all I knew was, I really really didn’t want to go.

 

And worse still, I realized the wedding would have a crowd five times as large, and what if I didn’t want to go to that either?

 

Suddenly the reasoning behind going to Costa Rica, and having only twenty guests, and just slipping upstairs from hanging out to change my dress before having a quick ceremony and maybe a slightly more special than average dinner, all made sense to me.

 

And I felt like I had lost the plot and royally fucked up.

 

It’s hard to go “celebrate” when you’ve got all of this on your mind.

 

As my bff (who abandoned me for Seattle at the beginning of July), counseled me on the phone afterwards, “You could’ve told everybody.” (She was mostly referencing the mom part.)

 

She was right, I could’ve told everybody, but as I told her, that wouldn’t have made it a shower, it would’ve made it a funeral. And we already had one of those.

 

Ironically, that funeral made me feel how most wedding grads talk about their wedding.

 

I was so utterly surrounded by love and support. People came out of the woodwork for my mom—and for me. (And some people not coming. I could still tell you the people that didn’t make it. All with good reason, that is just the nature of these things.) Truly, it made me see that I wasn’t alone, even though I was. And it helped me understand the importance of ritual, which is something I should probably remember now.

 

But the funeral is a whole other story, and post.

 

The shower.

 

I survived.

 

DSC_0211-2me, being showered, looking a lot more bad-ass that I felt 

 

Shaky, and not really myself, but trying. And yes, maybe it would’ve been better if I had come clean, and been honest to my friends as to what was going on. At least maybe pulled a few aside and clued them in.

 

But sometimes… even though my friends are here geographically, they’re miles away emotionally. So I tell stuff to you guys.

 

Hi you guys. (And the 2 in real life friends that read. Now you know. 😉 )

 

I guess maybe I should send this to them. So then they’ll know. And my secret will be out.

 

And I can enjoy my wedding.

 

Hi, my name is Keriann. I have social anxiety, and have been off medication for six years. I do a lot of yoga, avoid caffeine and sugar, and just generally will myself through the scary.

7 Comments

  1. “I quit this wedding!” is awesome. I actually said those words to Carson during the planning phases at least a few times. 😀

    The way I got around feeling like I was asking for help from people was by: drawing up a list of things people could do pretty much on their own (i.e. I didn’t really care about the things) and then sending it to them and letting them pick what they wanted to do. I thought of it as a way to include people instead of me needing help. Bingo! I was able to do it.

    Showers ARE mom things. and that made me cry, and want to hug you. You’re very brave–and looked badass!–to do it.

    You’re incredible, and I’m so glad you shared.

    I’d be so happy to read your funeral post someday. My little sister’s funeral was oddly enough, one of the most magical experiences ever. One of my favorite memories from my wedding? When I sat around with my family sewing little monkeys onto our wedding flowers, including the extra one for my little sister that my mom wore on her wrist. (Monkeys because they were her favorite). And the moment during the wedding that was to remember the people who weren’t with us, sharing the eye contact with my family, seeing the understanding in my aunts and uncle, and Carson holding me while I cried and I whispered to her that I love her and miss her.

    If you don’t want to cry in front of people, carve yourself out some time to do this at another time in the day?

  2. Zan

    I have no advice except that, “You can do it!” Your name is Keriann and I have every confidence that it will all work out. Jo, of course, is a much better advice giver than I am, but I second pretty much all of it. <3 <3 I still have twine for you!

  3. I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while but had to come out for this one – because I was really worried about getting up in front of everybody as well.

    For me, it was important that we did a whole wedding weekend so we were hanging out with friends for over a day before we actually got to the ceremony (plus, we used that time to ask them for help on decorations, favors, everything else that still needed doing).

    For the ceremony itself, we really just said, “ok, we’re doing this thing” at some point in the middle of cocktails and had everyone stand around us for the ceremony.

    Obviously, those things may not be what you want, but you can definitely come up with ways of making a wedding less “yay, a party about you” if that’s not what you want. Also – maybe you can think of it as an acting piece?

    At any rate, good luck!

  4. But you look damn good. I love your sunglasses.

    I have had a very difficult time asking for help, or even accepting it when it was freely offered. I felt like I was holding my breath for a lot of the bachelorette experience, because I just wanted everyone else to be happy, with no drama. In hindsight, although that may not have been what my friends wanted for me, its probably just a part of who I am, and would have happened no matter what.

    knowing yourself is the most important thing.

  5. KA

    I <3 you guys.

    Thanks Jo, for the tips on asking for help and scheduling crying (bc that’s how I roll), and for your overall love. 🙂

    Dude, Zan, twine, next Thursday? Provided it’s not too much to fit in my purse.

    Hey Novice wife! That’s a really awesome idea for the ceremony—something to ponder, as that’s not set in stone just yet.

    Thanks Jenn—someone actually commented when I arrived that I looked like I was going out dancing, not to a shower. I knew better than to take it personally, but wow was there a strong wave of wanting to admit defeat and going home.

    And yes, this: “its probably just a part of who I am, and would have happened no matter what. knowing yourself is the most important thing.”

  6. As someone who normally likes to be the center of attention, I have to say that there were moments of my wedding and shower in which I did not enjoy all the attention. The walk down the aisle with my dad was weird. I just wanted to be up there with the Beagle. Once I was with the Beagle, all the eyes were fine. But before that, I just felt uncomfortable. We aren’t celebrating me, we are celebrating us, so stop looking at just me.

    Anyway, all that is to say that I empathize with you so hard that it has got to be tough dealing with all this attention when you normally shun the spotlight compounded with the absence of your mom. I just want to reach through the computer and give you a hug. I don’t have great words of advice, but I do want you to know that I’m pulling for you totally.

  7. One more voice to say: “its probably just a part of who I am, and would have happened no matter what. knowing yourself is the most important thing.”

    It really, really is. Do what you have to do to make the day work for you, and then forgive yourself the rest. That’s what I had to do. And am still doing now to be honest.

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