Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Ask Polly: I Thought My Mother-in-Law Was Going to Kill Me at My Wedding

wedddingsDear Polly,

How can I put away the fact that when I got married ~1.5 years ago, my now-estranged mother-in-law's unchecked borderline personality disorder detracted from the whole event?  

I'm not a wedding person. I never was. My partner, The Boy, and I got married for health insurance after I successfully defended my thesis in 2011. Sounds cold, but we'd been living together for several years at that point and were completely happy continuing our relationship that way. We were both fried from my grad school experience, during which everything up to but not including actual physical assault occurred. I had to play an absolutely horrifying game of being the bait, allowing bad things to happen to me so I could report them. (I've been working with a kickass therapist for a few months, and we've made massive leaps in slaying those grad school dragons.) After that, I was incapable of planning anything, let alone a wedding, and I was jobless—hence the importance of health insurance. 

Eventually, my rather traditional father was all, "Your grandmother won't be around forever." They wanted a Wedding, and ain't no guilt like Jewish guilt. Also, my grandma is the most amazing person ever, and my family has its weirdness, but at the end of the day, they party hard, and everyone wants everyone else to be happy. So The Boy and I got weddinged.  ~1.5 years later, people are still raving (in a positive way!) about the party.  

The Boy's therapist suggested a book on growing up in a family with a borderline mother, and it is one long checklist of his whole family's behavior. The Boy is the fucking champion of the world for handling them all, with whom we maintained a relationship for the sake of interfamilial peace during the wedding prep. It took a very long time for my family to truly believe what The Boy's family did; I suspect some still don't entirely grasp how destructive they are. I won't share the full compilation of The Boy's family's horror stories, but they range from simply not showing up at the rehearsal dinner they demanded to trying turn my mom against me, emailing The Boy that I was a manipulative bitch and a horrible person, being ridiculously late for pictures, walking out of our ceremony, and the list goes on. I got good at turning the other cheek, but there's a part of me that deeply regrets never just starting a brawl and beating the shit out of them. (No, I will never ever actually do that.)

This is a good place to note that I am not by nature a passive person. As a fencer, coaches described me as a consummate fighter (I wasn't technically pretty to watch, but even when I lost, I would always give my opponent, no matter good they were, a very hard run for their money). After I got out of grad school and epically failed at finding a normal job, I started a company. I'm good at the kind of shit that makes running a tiny tech startup feel perfect: improvising, solving problems, and turning bad stuff into good productive things are my jam.

So, I wasn't prepared to feel regretful about our wedding. I worked like hell to stay focused on the good bits. We were good at compromise while not giving up on the very meaningful things. For instance, we found an officiant with a joyously pro-love liberal philosophy that gave us warm fuzzies who also happened to be a rabbi, which gave my mom warm fuzzies. They were just problems to solve. The thing that keeps popping up is that throughout, I was afraid that The Boy's mom was going to take his father's gun (yes, the man carries a piece on him at all times everywhere they go even if it's illegal) and shoot me at some point during the ceremony or reception in the name of rescuing her son and being a good mother. I didn't say anything to anyone at the time. The Boy was managing his own feelings about interacting with them, and I felt like a needy wretched asshole complaining about what I was feeling. My parents would've brushed it off, told me I was being silly, and that I needed to get a hold of myself. My friends—well, I just felt like a lunatic, like The Boy's mom's crazy was somehow rubbing off on me, so I didn't talk about it. My solution was to have my dress be something that would be easy for paramedics to cut off and to do my hair in such a way that if I had to run or fight, it would stay out of my face.

The most I can figure out is that I had to compromise on how I presented myself out of fear, and I can't square that away. Finding a dress was not fun. I just went quietly, by myself, had a dress made (it was lovely and professional and fit perfectly), and I think the incredibly nice talented ladies who made it thought I was a total fucking weirdo because I wasn't super into it. Now, though, I find myself looking at wedding dresses, and for the first time thinking, "that would look amazing on me," sans fear, then I feel sad because I already got weddinged (which I didn't even really want), then I hate that I'm being a soppy moron, since I never looked at wedding dresses with anything other than complete ambivalence (because fuck the patriarchy, yet at the same time, feminism means choice). So why do I suddenly care, and WHY THE FUCK didn't I say anything at the time? Because my friends who I tell now are all, "Oh, wow… yeah.  Yeah, I could totally see her shooting you," and according to that book The Boy is reading, borderlines do have complete lapses of morality and kill people, including their own children. I've been bargaining with myself, like, "Hey, I get to wear whatever I want for the rest of my life, so fuck that bullshit. Also, I'm alive!" And when The Boy and I have talked about it, he says he thinks about it in terms of having to go through all that wedding-related horror so he could get to a place where he could cut them off, and we get to have a peaceful balanced life together. He's right, it's completely true, and so I feel like a selfish whiner because while I'm sitting there thinking, "What about my experience?" he had to actually grow up with these intensely toxic parents.  

So, yeah. Is there a good way to think about all of this so I feel less bad? Do I just need a slap in the face?  

I Might Just Need A Slap In The Face


Weddings are made to be ruined. If your borderline mother-in-law doesn't ruin your wedding then someone or something else will. Why do brides even wear white, when none of them are actually virgins? Because that way something red or purple or green can get spilled all over their fucking $5000 dresses and ruin the whole day.

I was determined to be low-maintenance about my own wedding. I was 35 years old, not some blushing baby. I got engaged in December, went off the pill immediately (because I figured it would take months for me to get pregnant), and got pregnant immediately. I was glad to be pregnant, but I felt like a severely queasy, perpetually exhausted wreck while I was planning the wedding. I couldn't plan the menu because everything sounded disgusting. Fish and sauces and meats, and all of it so pointlessly expensive! My brother and I, who live in LA, decided to have our weddings a week apart so our family could fly out once instead of twice in the same year. This meant everyone was a little strung out by my wedding, and many aunts and uncles left town after my brother's, and missed mine.

But there were countless little missteps and mishaps along the way. I decided at the last minute that I looked like a fat kid in a nightgown in my formerly-elegant-looking empire-waisted gown, so I ran out and bought a pretty terrible gigantic white wedding dress the day before the wedding. It was like some kind of viral infection: out of nowhere, I wanted to look LIKE A BRIDE. A cliché, rotund, queasy bride. My husband's family gasped when they saw me at the hotel. My husband had somehow forgotten to mention to any of them that I was pregnant, so I had all of these "My god, it's a shotgun wedding!" looks to navigate for hours. (Yes, my husband is not all rainbows and moonbeams, trust me. He is one spaced out motherfucker with absolutely no sense a lot of the time.)

It was 105 degrees in Palm Desert the day of the wedding. I was wearing a dress the shape and weight of a comforter. The lower half of my body was swimming in a hot tub of sweat. I was in the dysentery phase of my pregnancy. My hairstyle was fucking atrocious, and the three friends I'd enlisted to guard me against atrocious hairstyles left to eat lunch because the stylist was taking too long. So I started crying big, salty tears all over my shitty, caked-on, professional make-up, and my friend's photographer husband, the one person who'd stuck around, started shooting photos of me crying, probably because he sees himself as a true artist, god bless him and also, fuck him.

The last thing I told my husband before the wedding was, "Make sure the microphone is set up. Don't try to do this thing without a microphone." But it was 115 degrees in the sunshine, so they moved the chairs to the shade and the mic cord wouldn't stretch. About 15 people could hear the ceremony. I looked out at the crowd when I was saying my vows, and the first two rows were crying. The next 7 rows were looking at me like, "Huh?"

At dinner, my mom stood up and said, "Well, my son's wedding was last week, so we're all a little tired of weddings." I laughed out loud, among nervous titters. My husband's family looked stricken. It was like a scene from The Office. I appreciated the honest dread my mom was feeling, which just goes to show how deeply warped I am or how warped my family is or maybe how warped weddings are in general.

On your wedding day, everything is amazing and also completely fucked. Everyone is incredibly generous and good to you and except for that one person who is so fucking selfish and bad. You are so in love and also so full of fear and dread over the years and years you'll spend with that dude right there, who is so handsome and special and also one spaced out motherfucker with absolutely no sense.

It's strange that I'm writing about this right now, because it's my eighth anniversary TODAY. I seriously just remembered that a few minutes ago for the first time all week. I had to stop and call my husband and remind him, because my brother agreed to babysit the kids last week, and we're supposed to go out to dinner in about two hours. I have to say, I'm not really in the mood to go out, either. See how it is?

SO: Your wedding sucked in many ways, possibly because you suspected that your mother-in-law might kill you. I would imagine that having even the faintest sensation that someone might kill you could really wreck any old day, let alone a wedding day, and give you severe PTSD to boot. You sound like a very tough sort of a person, so maybe this is what PTSD sounds like, coming from you. Maybe what you're trying to tell me is, "I am suffering now because I went into survival mode and brushed this off then." I totally understand that.

I don't think you need a slap in the face. I think you are someone who needs to be careful not to put things in black and white terms. You need to be careful to be gentle with yourself. I'm even going to tell you that you should try to present yourself in a softer way, so that people realize that you're pretty sensitive, actually, and not the rough and tumble soldier of fortune that you present to the world, with your swashbuckling and your jousting and your threats of beating people up. Some part of you wants to be treated with more care.

The details of the wedding, through the lens of PTSD or some kind of lesser traumatic reverberation, make perfect sense to me. But when you say stuff like "I wasn't super into my dress" and "I would've done this differently" and "Why didn't I handle that differently?" and "I wish I could have that day back, and do it all over a different way!"? Well, those things are the things that every single human alive says about their wedding. I think we have to try to separate the trauma from your standard wedding ambivalence, which is universal.

OK, fine. Some people have magical, perfect weddings. They say things like "OH MY GOD, THE WHOLE DAY WAS AMAZING FROM START TO FINISH, I WOULDN'T CHANGE A SINGLE THING!" But those people also say shit like "It's all good" and "No worries" and "Life's a beach" and "They grow up so fast, don't they?" and "I love the Dave Matthews Band soooo much I get chills whenever I hear one of their songs playing." The rest of us, though, have mixed feelings when we think of our weddings. By my wedding night, I was so relieved and so thankful and so in love with everyone, my husband, the whole world. But as I was getting ready to walk down the aisle? I was thinking, "I cannot fucking believe I had the bad taste to engage in THIS FUCKING HETERONORMATIVE THREE-RING CIRCUS. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING? WHY? WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?" When friends wandered in to help me fix my terrible fucking hair and say "Ooo so exciting!" I just grimaced. I was sweating and cramping and I looked like Tracy Turnblad in "Hairspray," except with panic and queasiness where the bubbly vivacious personality should go. I was hating everything and it was such an EXPENSIVE and PUBLIC way to feel shitty.

And of course we all think we should've worn something else! Oh god, anything else. ANYTHING. Of course we should've handled every single thing differently. I'll bet I was awful and embarrassing. I usually am when the stakes get very high.

So let's try very hard to take that part of things, the built-in ambivalence and the built-in dread and fear and horror, and the catastrophic nature of weddings in general, and let's separate that from the truly dreadful particulars. Can we do that? Let's admit that everyone has a semi-disastrous wedding, it's just a matter of where on the Richter Scale yours happens to fall. OK? There's something inherently fucked about a wedding, that's all. Big white dress, write your own stupid vows, be overly jokey or overly earnest or overly typical or overly eclectic or all of the above, serve lukewarm chicken breast stuffed with some shit that is way worse than a bad restaurant would serve but costs $30 a plate? Uch. Terrible mix CDs, terrible DJs, terrible bands, bad weather, accidents, wine stains, shitty hairstyles, ugly bridesmaid dresses that everyone's really fucking pissed about wearing, selfish friends who do crazy acting-out shit because they're not the center of everything for one fucking minute of their narcissistic lives? These things are de rigueur. They define the modern nuptial experience.

Murderous mother-in-laws are different. Whether that threat is real or imagined, you felt it. And clearly that experience was influenced strongly by your grad school experience, in which you had to be the bait and basically invite physical assault to prove that it had occurred already. The way you sped over that, glossed right past it, made it tough to understand. I'm sure you have your practical reasons not to want to go into it. But clearly there's trauma there, and confusion and a desperate need to get some distance, to put it in the past, to make it blurry, to appear tough and beyond the pull of those events. Your experience in grad school and your experience on your wedding day are clearly linked and each one is exacerbating the other.

You need to talk to your therapist about that. This wedding day thing isn't just coming up JUST because it's a good story (although you do love a good story). It's coming up because you sincerely, genuinely want to cry a river over the fear of physical injury there. You don't think that YOU, a tough woman, a bad ass, should feel so fragile about these things. But you do. Some part of you wants permission to feel fragile and afraid. You want to cry, and be weak. It's ok to do that, in general AND with a therapist AND with your husband.

So do that. But when it comes to fixating on the WEDDING part of this, the fact that it wasn't quite right, it wasn't comfortable, it wasn't a celebration, it was just nerve racking and terrible? Well, you CAN have another wedding if you want to. But Christ, who wants that? I would encourage you to dig deep into the threat of physical violence and its ill effects on your worldview and your nerves, but leave the wedding-specific regrets aside. The wedding regrets maybe break your heart in retrospect. But you CAN get over our collective heteronormative viral infection, can't you? Because weddings are totally great and awesome and also totally terrible and horrid at the same time. Anyone with a working brain and the capacity to have mixed feelings agrees.

You're very good at compartmentalizing, which is usually not a great, healthy thing. Use it to your advantage now, though. Put the wedding stuff, the dress and the not-quite-rightness of it all, and stuff it in a suitcase and throw it off a tall cliff. Weddings, whatever. What can you do? Life's a fucking beach. They grow up so fast, don't they? I love the Dave Matthews Band so much I want to staple live crickets to my face right now.

You love The Boy. You married him. Your life is good. Go to your therapist and talk about fear and pain and vulnerability. Learn to cry about this without feeling shame over it. Talk about toughness and bluster and sometimes putting that anger away and just admitting that some things are sad. Some things are just disappointing. Sometimes you don't want to give your opponents a run for their money. Sometimes you just want to lay down on the ground and look up at the sky and feel sorry for all of it. Some things are just very, very sad.

And some things are fucking exquisite. Some things are miraculous and crazy and meant to be. Eight years ago today, on my wedding day, I married the greatest, most lovable, most patient, most resilient, most spaced out motherfucker with absolutely no sense I've ever met. Here's to imperfect weddings and imperfect spouses and imperfect lives. Here's to all of our glorious misfirings and messes. What luck, to be here! What incredible, improbable luck.


Do you want to know precisely whom to marry? Write to Polly and get that settled today.

Heather Havrilesky (aka Polly Esther) is The Awl's existential advice columnist. She's also a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and is the author of the memoir Disaster Preparedness (Riverhead 2011). She blogs here about scratchy pants, personality disorders, and aged cheeses.

Photo by Ben Husmann

20 Comments / Post A Comment

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

I broke my foot at my wedding, and had my period unexpectedly during the reception. But that was not the part that made me feel awful. It was that my mother, two nights earlier, was asked to give a spontaneous toast (she was a public speaking coach and a teacher, so you, know, this shouldn't have been a problem). But she couldn't think of one damn nice thing to say about me or my husband, so all she said was "to love!" Feeling nervous around my mother, feeling like *I* have to tiptoe around her and cater to *her* delicate feelings, even on my specialist of special days, sucks. It really, really sucks to have someone who just drains the joy and life out of whatever event they show up at, especially when they are someone who you are socially obliged to involve at all specialist of special days.

STM (#273,794)

"Let's admit that everyone has a semi-disastrous wedding, it's just a matter of where on the Richter Scale yours happens to fall. OK? There's something inherently fucked about a wedding, that's all."

As a person planning a wedding right now, this paragraph is joining my other "Ask Polly" printouts that live in my purse.

Thank you for being wedding ambivalent! I am also done with "THIS FUCKING HETERONORMATIVE THREE-RING CIRCUS" right now, and then on top of that I get shamed for it if I express it. I have literally been told that I am ruining the romance of my relationship by expressing that wedding planning sucks balls. If one more person tells me to be "joyful" they're getting a wedding favor lodged where the sun don't shine.

Also, I'm so sorry LW. I'm sorry that you had to think about paramedics cutting your wedding dress off of you. There's wedding bullshit and then there's life bullshit, and that is pretty clearly a form of life bullshit that no one should have to experience.

bureaucrab (#247,615)

@STM FUCK THOSE PEOPLE TELLING YOU TO BE JOYFUL. Weddings are a pain in the ass. You know how I knew that my grad school best friend's marriage was going to last (and it has, so far!)? The closer we got to her wedding, the more annoyed she was BY the planning and the more she *just wanted to be married to her fiance already*. She didn't give a shit about colors or how to fold the napkins or who was seated next to whom. She just wanted to start her life with her love. And that was the exact right thing, I thought, for her to be focused on (made it damn easy to stand up as her maid of honor, believing in the marriage that was taking place!). All that matters is the part where you and your fiance are committing to each other. The WED-ding. But the WEDDING? PSSSH.

Monty Johnston (#243,596)

Survivor's guilt.

But I'm only half kidding. It's about getting close to someone; that coming from those good old dysfunctional families, even if the two of you really do want to get close, about all you can think of is the mother-in-law with the gun. No one wants to look directly at the fact that part of you doesn't want to do what the other part of you wants to do, which is intimacy. Good luck.

Monty Johnston

PolarSamovar (#263,661)

Oh, hon. You feared for your life on your wedding day, after spending grad school being bait for behavior that barely stopped short of violence? It is no wonder you feel traumatized.

Maybe this is what Heather said, but even so – there is such a thing as asking too much of yourself. It's great that you and your husband have cut his terrifying mother out of your lives.

Planning to roll with someone trying to assassinate you during your wedding? That is asking too much if yourself. I understand why you did it, and it probably seemed like the generous path at the time. And it was – incredibly generous. But you had just lived through a very similar trauma — pretending you didn't see a threat barreling toward you, in service of a higher purpose.

Fortunately, you are not Georgi Markov. These threats are behind you now. Of course you are upset, now that the threats have receded, that the danger was too present during your wedding for you to plan everything the way you now, in your relaxed state, could do it.

But at that time, you were in survival mode. They don't award points for style when you're running for your life. You get points for staying alive. Good job. GREAT job. Now, be good to yourself. Keep your regrets only as reminders not to ask too much of yourself in the future.

Even though you are strong, even though you are a fighter, even though you are a scrappy badass superhero, you don't have to be those things every time an opportunity arises for you to be one. Cutting Evil Mother-In-Law out of your lives shows that you know how to take care of yourself. Take it just one step further and acknowledge that heroes pay a price for their heroism. Your wedding regrets are that price.

Sorry if this is a dumb question but I'm confused by the first real paragraph of the letter about the maybe sort of physical abuse? Who was abusing who and how did it have to do with grad school?

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

@Faith Louise Martin@facebook I assume she was doing this work as part of a psychology or sociology research project, or something else that involves "human resource subjects." I also know plenty of women who are in police academies who work as prostitute decoys. Although this sounds like more academic than professional training, that prostitute decoy thing came to mind (would put one in a situation where one might be touched and threatened if not subject to sexual assault).

Koko Goldstein (#234,489)

Let's tell wedding stories you guys!

On my wedding, there was a brief period of time when I went downstairs and was helping to clean the kitchen, and started doing dishes. My aunt came and screamed at me for doing dishes in my wedding dress. I didn't give a fuck. I think this was my small act of rebellion against the industrial wedding complex.

Mike_B (#239,283)

@Koko Goldstein My horrid aunt was staying with us for my wedding. On the morning of, she 1.) ate part of my breakfast off of my plate, 2.) tried to make me sit in the middle of the back seat on the way to the wedding, and 3.) talked about philly cheese steaks the whole time which would be fine except that I had the ol' nervous guts.

alicesherman (#237,158)

@Mike_B I don't understand why any of those things are wrong, I'll be honest.

Bitzy (#1,913)

@alicesherman You DO NOT take food from the bride and groom. Wedding weekends are insanely busy and it is so hard to find time/remember to eat. When food is in front of you that you actually want (the nervous guts) and have time to eat, it is fucking YOURS.

When I got married, my maid of honor wanted to throw a bridal shower/luncheon for me with my bridemaids and some of the other ladies 2 days prior to the wedding day. We had moved cross country from our families and decided to get married where we live, so about 60% of the guests were flying in from afar and making a vacation out of it. Because of travel time and the already massive amount of scheduling already involved, I decided to just keep it super low-key instead of a formal to-do. Bridemaids (only 3, so no massive party) and mom and I were going to go for a walk around downtown, run a few last minute errands, then go to lunch at a cute little cafe, My mom, who is the greatest most caring woman ever, but the slowest shopper in the entire world, decided that the 5 minute run into Nordstrom for a jewelry polish cloth was a great time for her to go shopping for a new rehearsal dinner dress. Trying to be accommodating, I said that she could do whatever, but I was really hungry and hadn't eaten all day and it was already almost 2, so we should get moving soon. I offered to run down to the bakery and grab croissants or something for us to tide us over. Oh no, no, no! We are taking you out to lunch, just wait a bit. I take off to get the rest of the errands done and come back 30 mins later. Still trying things on, no progress made. I (quite crankily at this point) say again, can we just go get food? She says it will only be a few more minutes. I start walking over the the husband chairs to sit down and promptly black out and hit the floor (happens sometimes, mom knows this.) None of my people see this, so I wake up surrounded by freaked out clerks who are about to call me an ambulance. I get one of them to find my mom and friends. My mom walks out of the dressing room eating a protein bar that the dressing room lady had gotten for her because "she was starving." She didn't really want a new dress, just wanted to see if they had anything she liked better. So my bridal shower was two bites of a shitty Jimmy Johns sub, eaten on the curb next to a couple stinky street kids.

Moral of the story: feed the bride and groom.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@Bitzy OH MY GOD. Your wedding was pretty fucking awesome though.

30489239@twitter (#273,822)

What was supposed to be a joyful celebration sounds a long series of boundary violations.
You didn't want to have a wedding, but you did it so your dad would stop guilt-tripping you. You didn't want a rehearsal dinner, but you did it because your husband's family demanded it. You didn't want to have a gun at the wedding, but you invited a man who brings his gun everywhere. You organized an elaborate day and your new in-laws kept disrupting or ignoring the schedule. Your in-laws were trying to sabotage your relationship, and you wined and dined them out of obligation.

The fearful fantasy that your mother-in-law might shoot you with a gun sounds like a dream image of the way MANY PEOPLE were "shooting down" your wishes, your values, and your sense of agency.

chevyvan (#201,691)

@30489239@twitter I agree. What I'm hearing from the LW is that she is a tough cookie and therefore thinks it's okay to put herself in the middle of these dangerous situations for the greater good: keeping the peace in the family, getting someone kicked out of a university [???] so they don't hurt anyone else. It's easy to follow your gut when everyone around you is reasonable, but it's harder when everyone is trying to get you to do what they want at your expense. I think the LW is having a delayed gut check and is kicking herself for not following it. Totally understandable.

E (#14,552)

People here have good advice about the emotional moving on part, so I'm not even going there, but I think you need a little healthy revenge, in the style of "living well is the best revenge." Throw yourself a damn fancy party! 2nd anniversary, milestone birthday party, housewarming, holiday, random day dinner party, whatever. Start saving up, buy a nice dress, get catering, rent a hall, or make fancy food, plan the events, invite everyone special you can reasonably get to come, go get your hair did and your house cleaned by hired people, etc. Don't invite anyone who ruined things for you last time. Have a part of the night where you get to stand up and make a little speech about how good life is. Have someone you trust promise to take nice photos.

A wedding is but one of many decent themes for a party. I think the many people who want a wedding do over are people who maybe just think that a wedding is the only time you are allowed to spend too much money on a party, and forget that parties can be had for literally no reason at all. if you go into a wedding thinking, this is the first time I'm going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on creating an orchestrated social event, but not the last, it all gets much less high stakes, it becomes practice for the special parties you will throw when you are 40 or 50 or 60 or just because. I recently attended a party that was a "we're so fabulous at 60" party for two best friends that included every single element of a wedding and must have cost a bajillion dollars. It was stupendous, and everyone loved it, because it was all the fun parts of a wedding without any vows. We skipped straight to the reception. There was a raffle with monstrous gift baskets!

Tell your husband you need a special day that's all about you and him, but in a new way. Not in a "this is us getting married" but in a "hey cool, life is good, look at all these great people in our lives." bonus, you can pick any color dress you want!

cmf406 (#243,306)

Oy. Borderline parents. No one ever wants to believe it's as bad as it is, but it is. (If that makes sense.)

VaricellaSundry (#248,088)

@cmf406 So true. It amazes me how absolutely difficult it is to credibly describe BPD people, and to be believed. Of course part of the issue is that they do and say unbelievable, outrageous, crazy-making things. People who don't understand how these dynamics work instinctually try to reason with the sane ones in these situations because they want to reassure themselves on some level that normal people can "show compassion" or "turn the other cheek" or "work around this person" in order to prove that it is possible to exercise some sort of control over emotionally destructive people. And of course you can't control people or their abuse, but a common reaction among groups of inexperienced people is to put the burden on the victim to try. And it's important, as the sane victim who is neither at fault nor in control but merely unlucky, to not internalize that horse shit and stick to their boundaries. LW, you are brave and you are also a human with feelings. Take care of yourself, and have a happy life with your wonderful hubby.

lorena (#273,956)

This week's column hit eerily close to home for me. Just last night my boyfriend and I were discussing getting married and my panic over having a wedding because of my borderline sister. The last (and will be The Last) time she stayed with me she became so enraged with me that I did not sleep for her entire visit. I was truly terrified she was going to strangle me in my sleep. The idea of inviting her to something as emotional, high-intensity, and hyper-focused on me as my wedding is unbearable. So boyfriend and I came up with a plan that I love. We will go on vacation to our favorite city, elope, and tell everyone we got engaged. Then plan a very low-key wedding, because we actually really love parts of our families and hosting parties and we want to bring those people together. This way if/when my sister (and mother) ruin our wedding, they won't ruin the day we actually wed. And it won't feel nearly as high-stakes to me because hey, we are already hitched.

My heart goes out to you LW – BPDs are hard and sometimes terrifying. Sounds like you did the best you could at the time, which is all you can ask of yourself.

twinkiecowboy (#235,093)

This might be one of my favorite Polly columns ever. Great perspective on the clusterfuck that is planning a wedding. What stuck out to me about this letter is that the LW spends so much time justifying her decision to get married & have a wedding. LW, what makes you think you need to do that?

I think therapy is the real answer, but when it comes down to it, it's okay if you want to go out and buy another white dress. Maybe something that you can wear on all your anniversaries? If that helps you to move on, go for it. It sounds like you could stand to do a few more frivolous things for yourself.

Thank you for your article! It touches my heart deeply because I have recently went through something similar 3 years ago before all this spells and spell casters madness on the INTERNET started which makes people to be confuse and scam them of their money. ALSO IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC AND SPELLS, I THINK YOU ARE MISTAKEN, DON’T GET ME WRONG, I ONCE HAD MY DOUBTS, TOO.
THIS IS MY STORY: I was married for 6years with 2 kids a boy and a girl and we lived happily until things started getting ugly and we had fights and arguments almost every time… it got worse at a point that My husband filed for a divorce. I tried my best to make him change his mind & stay with me because I love him so much and I don’t want to loose him but everything just didn’t work out, he moved out of the house because it was a rented apartment and still went ahead to file for divorce… I pleaded and tried everything but still nothing worked. I was surfing the internet for solution on what to do when one Dr. Zigaga of islea shrine DUPED me of my hard earned money because I was so desperate to get my wife and children back, Dr. zigaga it will not be well with you were ever you are. The breakthrough came when Monalisa my best friend introduced me to this wonderful, great prophet named Prophet Abayotor who eventually helped me out. I have never been a fan of things like this but I just decided to try reluctantly because I was desperate and left with no choice, behold within a week after the regular prayers and proceeding, my parent call me on phone and said that I should come home immediately, when I did my husband was with them immediately he saw me he came to me and knelt down begging me to forgive him that he was so sorry for how he treated me. That it was his mother that made him dislike me so much, I was shocked and began to cry because I thought I lost him forever, immediately I forgave him and he promised that he will always love me, immediately he opt out in filing for the divorce from there we moved into our new apartment together. As for Prophet he is real and cleared my doubts, me made me belief in thing I never believed in Prophet Abayotor you are the best I say Thank you, you can contact him here at and tell him I introduced you to him.

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