This weekend started with a new couch and ended with the nagging feeling that I should share a story of what happens inside the brain of a single introvert when they are invited to go to a wedding (or other large social event).
I even struggled because it can be a little embarrassing to admit that such a trivial (otherwise happy) event can cause a person so much frustration and inner turmoil. I hope that by sharing this, my friends who have expressed that they have had the same type of experiences would be comforted in knowing that they aren’t the only ones. I hope that those who don’t go through the same thing can maybe get a little insight into why some people simply choose not to join the party once in a while.
Weddings happen to be one of my main anxiety triggers. They are a place where I feel totally alone, have no idea how to keep a conversation going, and get totally lost in the process. The first wedding that I remember having been to, was one that ended in a massive fight and us kids having to be escorted out for safety reasons. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the over all discomfort that I associate with weddings. I’m an adult and I can cognitively distinguish that it was an isolated incident. But, I believe that was the first time I my brain decided that it did not enjoy weddings.
So, let’s start with the fact that I did not originally plan to go to this wedding. As a general rule, I don’t go to weddings anymore. I support weddings and marriages wholeheartedly. I just have a hard time with the social context.
I didn’t get to go through all of the various emotions beforehand. I didn’t have time to ask if I could bring a guest. I didn’t have the time, money, or desire to go all out with my hair and makeup (which normally builds my confidence). I didn’t have mini speeches prepared to explain why I took the summer off of school, why I’m still single, why I’ve been “gone” or why I wasn’t going to try to catch the bouquet or dance. I didn’t have the money to go out the night before and get hotel or carpool with anyone else.
I asked a good friend of mine, how I could get through the situation without breaking in the process. She suggested that I pray that morning, have something warm to drink, give myself plenty of time to get ready and to have a B plan of escape (if needed). All of those things were very comforting.
I went because the bride has been like a kid sister to me and I know that those two crazy kids are meant to be together. I may not ever understand how to get from point A to point B, but I can recognize when right is right. I needed to be there to support them and because I genuinely love them both.
I kept my choices minimal so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. All I had to do was 1) decide what to wear, 2) time the drive from here to Carlsbad, 3) get a gift. Everything else was a non-issue.
I took my time getting ready. There was a ton of traffic.
Stressor #1: I got lost.
I used the address and ended up in a residential area. I looked up the name of the venue and decided that if that failed…I would seriously turn around and go straight home. I didn’t even care if it took me an hour and a half to get there. I would have turned right around and driven another hour and a half straight just go back home. I’ve done it before.
I finally found the “Flower Fields,” but was a half an hour late. On the bright side, I didn’t have to stress about where to sit because I didn’t have many options.
Stressor #2: Awkward socialization after the ceremony, but before the dinner.
I usually try to bring a friend or my sister as a social buffer to get me out of uncomfortable conversations. However, like I said before…not an option this time. I floated from awkward conversation to the garden and back again. I thought about how I could relate to Alice’s love of the garden and running away from the pressure of having to behave a certain way. I killed just enough time to convince myself to stay through dinner.
Stressor #3: Being too distracted to contribute to conversations
Smile and nod. Smile and nod. Laugh. Smile. Nod.
Stressor #4: Repressed Emotions.
If no one else had cried, I probably would have been fine. Seeing the bride’s sister cry broke me. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s just this overly empathetic heart of mine. I was not prepared for the flood of emotion that came after.
The father-daughter dance always makes me cry.
Then, the bride sings “Love me Tender” and I was done. My heart had exploded with all kinds of girl emotions all over the place.
I was happy. I was sad. I was a lot of things that I couldn’t make sense of.
Stressor #5: Oh hell no! I’m not dancing. Peace OUT.
They announced swing dancing instructors. I have said it once and I will say it again, “Mexicans do not swing dance”. I do not swing dance. I’m going home.
I practically ran out of there. It was late and cold anyway.
I’m not sorry that I went. It takes me a little bit of effort to do things that I don’t particularly love. I’m glad that I got to witness such a great, real love story. I didn’t get any of the “single girl pep talks” that are usually a huge part of the wedding experience. People seemed more mellow than usual.
My mind wandered as I drove home. I thought about the peculiar events that led to getting the second best piece of furniture I own (next to my bed). I thought about how rare it is to have effortless friends who connect to your soul in a way you can’t explain and then can leave in a minutes notice. Or how you can be totally fine with life for a long string of time and then meet one person who makes you realize that maybe you were wrong about everything within a 5 minute conversation. I cried. I didn’t know why.
I thought about how no one had asked or had known what I had been doing the entire weekend. I could have been anywhere and no one was even curious or concerned. I wondered how long it was going to take me to get home. I wondered how hungry the bunnies must have been at that point having not eaten at their regular time.
I got home. I don’t even remember what was on tv. I wanted to watch Sweet Charity. But, I was too lazy to look for it.
I washed my face. Put on my PJ’s. Curled up on the couch and then fell asleep. It was like a big warm hug from a stranger, saying everything was going to be ok eventually.