[Warning: While I love my married friends and do not question the choices you’ve made – really and truly I don’t, not even deep down, I don’t think – this post is likely to push buttons for married people, at least married people in most of the US. If you live in Massachusetts and got married recently, the likelihood for psychodrama is less. I don’t want to lose any of my friends, so please try to understand that I’m not
attacking you in this post, and not
telling you you’ve made a wrong choice.]
I feel crappy, and I’m taking a mental-health day today.
My sister is getting married to her wonderful, sweet partner in early March, in North Carolina, and I’m not going. I feel awful. I love my sister, I think her partner’s wonderful and I can’t think of anything I want more for her than to spend the rest of her life with him, and I want to support her, and I want to do things she really wants me to do. But since her wedding (1) will be legally recognized and (2) will be in a jurisdiction where same-sex couples can’t get married, I’m not going to be there.
I might be able to force myself to go. (Honestly, I'm not sure I’m capable of it.) But it wouldn’t be healthy for me, and it wouldn’t be healthy for my relationship with my sister. It would feel so much like a lie for me to be there, that it might poison my relationship with her. It would certainly poison my relationship with myself.
Here’s a little snippet of a letter I wrote to my mother about this:
There are many deeper and more evil injustices in the world than being told you can't marry the person you love because of your identity, while your neighbour can, but it’s still an injustice, and to me it feels similar in kind if not (by any means) in degree to Jim Crow laws or miscegenation laws. I wouldn't eat at a whites-only lunch counter, and I won’t participate in a straights-only wedding. I don’t blame other people for participating in them – we all make our own moral choices, and the world is full of compromises, and we have to pick our battles — but *I* just can't, and still respect myself.
There’s a strong temptation to put my thumb on this moral scale and try to convince myself to attend [my sister]'s wedding, but that really doesn’t feel like a safe thing for me to do at this state of my life. [...]
And even if I made the choice to try to submerge my principles and attend (which would feel like telling a lie), I don’t think there’s any guarantee I could pull it off. If I’m exuding negativity and upset, that’s not going to make [my sister]’s wedding a happy celebration. If I lose it and get sick or have to leave or otherwise make a scene, that would be even worse. And even if I manage to keep myself more or less under control, if other guests can tell that I’m upset and ask me why, what do I say? The last time I told a big important lie was probably saying “I love you” to my father. (Sometimes when I said it it was the truth, of course, but not always.) That’s something I’m ashamed of, and I don’t need more things in my life I’m ashamed of.
(This all came up with a vengeance because a friend of my sister’s emailed me out of the blue trying to pressure me to go to the wedding. I was too upset to read the whole letter once I realized what it was about; I’m going to try to have some calming tea and relax and read it through and give her the thoughtful reply she deserves. One much smaller thing that bugs me about this situation is that a bunch of people seem to think that I am under a moral obligation to go to this wedding, even though it would be a lie for me. I believe very much in keeping promises (although sometimes I’ve failed), but this is not an obligation I ever assumed, or ever would have assumed, any more than attending Mass or saying my Friday prayers is an obligation I assumed. *Bleah*.
Everybody should bear in mind that in most ways I’m really happy these days. It’s kind of weird having the intense happiness juxtaposed with intense stress and Big Moral Angst, but the happiness is no less strong for that.
I haven’t turned off comments, but please don’t try to offer me advice, unless it’s about what kind of herbal tea to drink to calm down. (And to anyone who suggests hemlock, I say: *LBPTHFFLBT*
! :-) Doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your own similar situations if you want to, or what you would do, as long as it’s about you and not about what you want me to do. And do remember if you were married in a straight-only jurisdiction, or expect to be, that I really and truly do not feel bad about your choice or your spouse or your family. This is not about feeling bad about my sister’s wonderful fiancé or her decision or even really about her wedding, it’s about feeling like I need to tell the truth by my actions.