Somewhere in my house, there is a CD. My spouse knows where it is, but I do not. Intentionally. This CD contains our wedding photos. I can’t bear to look at them. We’ve been married a year, now, and I still can’t look at them.
You see, our wedding…
We got married, sure, but almost everything else had some sort of hitch that was never quite worked out. It even precipitated a major falling out with my mother which has turned out to be the best side effect of the whole sordid affair.
I don’t know how to talk about our wedding to people. I don’t want to lie, but telling acquaintances or strangers that your wedding sucked is really rough, especially when there’s a lot of societal guilt about weddings.
The couple of times it’s come up, I’ve gone the brutally honest then laugh it off route. It’s not working for me. Not to mention ragging on our wedding feels (irrationally) like I’m badmouthing my spouse, a genuinely lovely human who manages to be sunny and encouraging all the time. Even through things that should absolutely make people explode, that spouse of mine keeps a level head and a relaxed demeanor. Magic, I tell you. Magic.
Suffice to say, any time I talk about, or even think about, that massive trauma that has a societally-loaded term attached, I become a bit of a mess.
So I come to you, oh lovely Internet Folx, to humbly ask your advice, on two counts: How do I talk to people about my trauma… I mean, wedding? How should I go about facing these photos? – CK
Oh, CK, I feel for you. There’s SO much pressure for your wedding to be something. Something amazing, life changing, monumental. When really, it’s just a day to which we apply so much meaning that we’re bound to be disappointed in some aspects of it. But it sounds like it was much more than that for you, and I’m so sorry.
I had a somewhat related experience in (non-wedding related) disappointment where, even a year later, I’m still really unable to think about that day or lay my eyes on things related to it. So while it wasn’t specifically a wedding, I can absolutely understand how seeing things related will just bring it all back.
Here are my thoughts and then we’ll see what our amazing readers advise in the comments:
Take your time. As much as you need
Maybe for a LONG time. Maybe forever. You never have to see these photos if you don’t feel ready. A wedding doesn’t have to hold as much meaning as we as a society apply to it. It can be one day that is just the little start to something much greater: your relationship with your positive, chill partner. There is no requirement that you have to frame those photos and have them in your home. They can become less important as time goes on, if that’s what you decide. No shame or guilt required.
Talk it out with someone close to you
Maybe it’s your partner, maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a therapist, but find someone who will listen to why it hurts so much and why it’s taking a while to process. Holding it in seems like the brave thing to do, but it’s clear that you’re worried about burdening people with it when you should only have to focus on processing it yourself. Find that person and start the real healing without worrying about making anyone uncomfortable.
And I imagine they’re way less uncomfortable than you think they are. Most people would totally get exactly how much this situation would suck and could empathize. Maybe come up with a standard answer for acquaintances like, “It wasn’t the greatest, but we’re excited about our upcoming etc. etc.” You can do your real processing with a therapist or a friend.
If/when you’re ready, start slowly
If you do decide you’re ready to start looking at those photos, start out super slowly. Maybe your partner could pick one or two photos of just you two where they know it was a nice memory. Something that wouldn’t be too trigger-y and would give you a sliver of time during that day when you were happy. Just look at those photos and either put them back if you’re not ready, or maybe put them out for you to look at once in a while.
Make new memories and photos
Maybe you end up looking at those photos and maybe you don’t, but know that it isn’t the end of your story. Start looking ahead to new experiences, memories, and photo albums you’ll actually love. Plan a trip, a staycation, a dinner party with friends, see a show, or anything to which you can look forward and which will give you new memories in photo form. Make a good memory, get that shit printed out, hang it somewhere prominent, and know that weddings are not marriages and the former doesn’t define your relationship at all.
Fellow Homies: what advice do YOU have for your fellow reader?