Anxiety Trigger: My Brother’s Wedding


I am deliriously happy about my brother’s wedding. His fiancee is a delight and the wedding itself will be beautiful and joyous.

I am also, however, defensive and on edge, knowing folks at the wedding will think, but not say, very hurtful things about me. The imagined negative commentary runs through my head on repeat, and it’s all I hear or think about.

This has been my state of mind during the many months leading up to this weekend.

The fact is, the things I think about, the things that will be said behind my back, are true. I am fat and single, and a bit weird and awkward, and rather unattractive, and so on. I am that sad weird lonely sister everyone has heard about. The one that lives all the way across the country in Oregon that nobody ever sees.

Wednesday: Take-off

When I first learned of my brother’s engagement, I collapsed and had a sobbing fit. It was awful.

There have been months of tears leading up to my brother’s wedding. And now, the time has come. Let the adventures begin.

Take off from Oregon

My flight from Oregon to Massachusetts on Wednesday was at 8:30 AM. I scheduled a Lyft to bring me to the airport at 6 AM.

The Lyft showed up 10 minutes early. This, of course, sent me into a last-minute panic. The already overwhelming anxiety went into hyperdrive as a result of needing to rush out the door a few minutes earlier than expected.

My typical reaction to overwhelming anxiety is to cry. It’s why I’ve been crying so much in recent months.

True to form, I sat in the back seat of the Lyft and held back tears the entire way to the airport.

The driver regaled me with his knowledge of the history of all the major league baseball teams while I dabbed at my eyes and tried to not burst into uncontrollable sobs.

It was not an auspicious beginning to the trip.

Thankfully, the flight itself was without incident. I arrived in Boston, MA at 5 PM, as scheduled.

The descent into Boston

As soon as I turned off airplane mode on my phone, though, I saw I had a voice mail from the rental car company. The location where I was meant to get my rental car was closing shortly.

They asked, very politely, if I would be arriving soon.

I was still on the plane at this time. There was no way I would be at the rental car pick up spot before they closed. I realized I hadn’t looked to see what the hours of operation were. I assumed they would be open late enough that my 5 PM landing time would be a non-issue.

I needed to cancel my car reservation and find another one at the last minute.

This became the second source of tears of the day.

Normally, I have no problem with sudden changes in travel arrangements. Remember when I had to find last-minute accommodations in Nice because my reservations had been lost? I was completely fine about it. No big deal.

This, however, was not normal travel.

Ultimately, I found a rental car, although it took a little doing at the last minute.

Once I had the car, I got on the road and drove to my dad and stepmom’s home without further issue. They wrapped me up in big, warm, comforting hugs, and suddenly everything felt a ton more manageable.

We went out to dinner and had a lovely evening. When we returned to the house, I went to bed and slept for 12 hours without interruption. It’s entirely possible I didn’t even roll over the whole night.

Thursday: 4th of July Fun Times

Today was the 4th. A friend from high school had a few people over. Some I knew, but most I didn’t. It didn’t matter, though. We all swam in the pool, giggled when the kids did cute things, chatted and bonded and ate way too much.

Miraculously, I didn’t feel uncomfortable in a bathing suit. I was with my people, and it was good.

Sometimes I felt chatty. Most of the time, I didn’t. I answered questions about myself and felt bad that I couldn’t think of any to ask of others, which is a pretty common problem of mine lately. Still, I felt comfortable in my own skin, and that’s huge. It was a lovely day, and a great calm-before-the-storm interlude before the activities of the wedding weekend.

Friday: Quality Time

Sunset on Dad and Stepmom’s street

Today was fun. Stepmom and I went out to lunch and then got mani/pedis together. It was lovely.

I’m not sure why it wore me out so badly, though. I think between flying on Wednesday, celebrating the 4th yesterday, and hanging with my stepmom all day, I’ve been in extrovert mode nonstop for too long.

I know I need some time to myself before dealing with the rehearsal dinner tomorrow night and the wedding on Sunday.

I’ve been anxious about this weekend for months. I’m now wiped out and feeling fried. It’s not good. I need introvert time to recharge my batteries or I’ll be a mess at the big events.

Dad asked me to have brunch with him tomorrow and I said no. I know I need some quality hang around the house in pajamas time.

I’m tired and weepy and I miss my cats. I wish they were here and curled up with me right now.

Saturday: Lots of Tears

I’m writing this while I have my morning coffee. It’s weird to do so without the cats. I’m still missing them a ton.

I’m longing for their comfort and quiet, but that’s not what this weekend or this trip can provide. Enjoying the moments of peace I can carve out for myself and rolling with the punches otherwise is all I can do. The alternative is to miss out on seeing people I love and miss celebrating their important life events with them.

I have to pull it together. I’ll regret it if I don’t.

My brother and me, circa 1988

I also have to admit to myself that this is not the time to slow down on drinking. In a general sense lately, I try to limit myself to 5 drinks per week. The weekend of my brother’s wedding, where I’m spending time with my whole family (in particular, my mother) is exactly when it’s appropriate to have a few drinks. Even Dad suggested this to be the case. He doesn’t drink and typically frowns about people imbibing, and even he thinks I should relax a bit about my self-imposed restrictions.

He’s right. Trying to maintain my rules is making me miserable. I’m tired, sad and grumpy.

Alcohol will take me outside my miserable, anxiety-ridden inner world. It will make it possible for me to exist for others. It makes me externally focused. It allows me to become someone who brings others joy. It makes them think I am an incredibly social and happy human being.

It will be exhausting.

Wine bottle and wine glasses

It will allow me to see and enjoy the absurdities of life, though. It provides me with the ability to laugh with people. People tend to like it when I laugh with them.

On the plus side, and unrelated, I’ll get to see my sister tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing my sister. I’m crying thinking about it. I want one of her

…I just had to stop typing for a moment, because I needed to indulge in a good cry. Thinking about getting one of my sister’s big hugs triggered it.

I am surprised by this. I hadn’t realized how much I’m looking forward to seeing her. I’ve had so much anxiety about this wedding and this trip. And yet, in the back of my head, there has been a constant thrum that, if I listen closely, says, “But my sister will be there.”

I haven’t been paying attention to the quiet thrumming, but it has been there all along.

I won’t be managing my mother, my stepfather, my new sister-in-law’s extended family, my aunts and uncles, my grandmother, everything and everyone, all on my own. My sister will be there. My brother-in-law (her husband) will be there. My nibling (her kid) will be there.

Maybe everything will be okay? Maybe, just maybe, all of this will actually be quite fun?

I don’t know, but regardless, I still need today’s downtime. It’s 9 AM right now. The rehearsal dinner isn’t until 6 PM. I’m going to spend time watching some TV, probably crying some more, and getting my batteries good and charged.

Only then will I start to get ready for dinner.

I can do this. It’ll all be okay.

Sunday: My Brother’s Wedding

I am once again sitting with morning coffee while writing. Yesterday, both Stepmom and Dad had activities that took them away from the house in the morning. I enjoyed drinking my coffee in solitude.

This is not what is happening right now. Alone time will not happen today.

Not only was most of the coffee already gone when I woke, but there is a lot of activity happening in the house right now. I’ve already relocated twice in an effort to find a quiet spot where I might sip coffee and write.

I asked Dad to brew another pot in his incredibly fancy coffeemaker that I can’t figure out how to use. Doing so required far more conversation than I’m accustomed to when I first roll out of bed.

Coffee mug says, “I’m sorry for what I said before I had my coffee.”

My sister and her family will come here after the wedding. They will spend the night. We must prepare the other guest room for their stay. This is requiring a lot of conversation and activity, as well.

I helped with the guest room while Dad brewed a new pot of coffee. I’m now sitting in a third different spot in the house, hoping this will be the one that is out of the way enough that I can do some writing and wake up a bit.

Yesterday was a hard day. I sobbed quite a few times. One of them was on Dad. He hugged me and let me cry for as long as I needed to. So, I’ve now cried on six people in my life.

It previously had bothered me that I had no recollection of ever crying on one of my parents. Dad was always working. Mom thought I was being “dramatic” whenever I had big feelings.

I learned to keep everything inside and to keep up a mask of toughness.

There’s something lovely about having sobbed on my father. It is very healing to know I have a parent I can cry on.

The cause of the sobbing was anxious feelings about the rehearsal dinner. I had no idea what to expect of it, who to expect to see there, what it was going to be like. And I was unable to calm myself down.

I went to the dinner with Dad and Stepmom rather than driving myself. The thunderstorms that had been in the forecast for days exploded shortly after we left the house. Their beauty was a nice distraction during the hour-long drive.

Storm clouds

It was still pouring when we arrived at the restaurant, so I made a mad dash from the car to the overhang over the front door while Dad and Stepmom fiddled with umbrellas. While waiting for them, my stepsister showed up. I was delighted to see her, and seeing her before anyone else felt like a good omen.

When we went inside, I immediately spotted my sister, my mother, and the rest of my immediate family minus my brother. They were standing by the bar ordering drinks. I went over and greeted everyone and got a beverage, and then we all went into the adjoining space where the party was.

My brother and his fiancee were directly inside the entrance. They pulled me into hugs and the fiancee yanked me away to introduce me to her parents.

The evening proceeded nicely from there. The high point was sitting with my brother and some of his friends, just chatting and laughing. The low point was my mother trying to talk to me while I was enjoying engaging with my 6-year-old nibling, who I haven’t seen in well over a year. I speak to my mom on the phone frequently but I don’t ever connect with my nibling except in person. I expressed that I was trying to hear what my nibling was saying. Mom respected my boundaries and I’m grateful.

My mother knows I’ve been having a hard time lately but hasn’t checked in with me to see if I’m okay. Now that the weekend of my brother’s wedding is here, Mom wants me to talk to her, wants to know how I’m doing.

Mom wants to be reassured. She doesn’t want to worry. As is often the case with her, she hasn’t done anything to actually help or be supportive, but now that she’s having feelings, she wants me to soothe them for her.

Therapy is a wonderful thing and I am far more self-aware than I used to be. I recognize managing my emotions about my brother’s wedding and simultaneously dealing with my growing awareness of my mother’s selfishness is difficult. I’m trying to put the latter to the side for now.

I’ve just had to move to location #4 within Dad and Stepmom’s house. Stepmom is leaving soon. She is going to the wedding venue early to help with the flowers. Dad and I will leave in a few hours.

I will likely start getting ready soon. I still don’t know what accessories I’m wearing and I want to make sure I have time to try a few different things.

.Overall, though, the rehearsal dinner was a delight. Now, there’s just the wedding to contend with.

I had three drinks last night. I think it helped. I can see doing the same tonight.

Tuesday: The Aftermath

My brother’s wedding was lovely. The venue was perfect, the bride and groom were gorgeous, the guests all behaved themselves, and everything was a delight.

I looked terrible, though. One of my biggest fears was that I would look awful in wedding photos. That is what happened, and there is nothing I can do about it now. The day is in the past, and it is what it is.

I won’t go into all the ways in which I know my appearance was an embarrassment. It doesn’t matter. It’s over. I have seen in the photos how incredibly overweight I am and will have to deal with with the level of disgust I feel about myself for the rest of my life. Hopefully, the photos family members choose to hang on walls will be the ones that do not have me in them.

But, it’s done. The day is over. I can change the future, but I can do nothing about the past.

What is far more important than my size, or the fact that my hair looked like a rat’s nest, is my smile in all the photos was genuine. I had a terrific time. My laughter was real and it was plentiful.

My happiness for my baby brother overwhelmed all the selfish anxieties that had plagued me for months.

Yesterday, I had quality bonding with my nibling with pedicures and long chats. Sister, brother-in-law, nibling and I all then went to Mom and Stepdad’s house for dinner.

I was a bit nervous about this. I haven’t seen Mom much during this trip.

It was a delightful surprise when my brother and my new sister-in-law arrived at Mom and Stepdad’s. As a result of their presence, the evening was loud and it was hilarious. I was sad to say goodbye at the end.

Today, unfortunately, I am working. I am writing this brief blurb in between online chats with engineers and clients as we work to resolve an issue that has come up. But, later today, I will go out to dinner with Dad and Stepmom. It is my last night in town.

Tomorrow, this great adventure will come to an end. I will fly back to Oregon. My brother’s wedding has occurred, and I have survived, and all is well. I will go home and resume normal life…

And, knowing me, I will quickly find another Big Thing to feel overwhelming anxiety about.

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