One of the things I finally realized about ten months ago — four months before I got engaged — is that one of the main reasons why getting married freaked me out so much, why I always labeled myself “not really a marriage person”, is that it brought up a very difficult problem. Do I invite my dad?
My dad and I aren’t really close, which really isn’t that unusual of an issue for people — but we’re more than just “not close”. Without airing too much of his dirty laundry — and inspiring an unhappy phone call later this evening — I can explain that while I was in college, my dad made some choices that resulted in losing his job, ending relationships with most of his friends, and breaking up his marriage to my mom. Needless to say, our relationship, which had once been very close, was damaged as well, and because he didn’t exactly quickly rebound, apologize, and get his act together (really, still kind of waiting on that), a lot of time passed before I could even consider forgiving him. And I’m pretty sure there’s not enough time in the world to make inviting him to my wedding — let alone playing an integral part — a pleasant option.
For starters, I haven’t seen him in four and half years and we speak only every month or so (more my fault than his). In that time, his health and appearance have deteriorated, and the thought of having a reunion on my wedding day gives me a huge case of the dreads. Second, I don’t trust him. As I briefly explained in my last column, my dad is a bit of rebel, and his outspokenness has always caused me embarrassment — in 4th grade he flipped off a couple of my classmates because they laughed at his car. That outspokenness went to a whole ‘nother level when his problems started and he began to behave….erratically. While his behavior has improved in the last year, I worry that an emotional event, like my wedding, might set him off — especially since it would be the first time he’d be in the presence of my mom in years. She’s another reason having him present isn’t an option — it’s an important day for me to share with her, and I don’t want anything impacting the happiness and enjoyment she experiences.
With all of that said, and as decisive as I am in my belief that he shouldn’t come, it’s not easy. For starters, how do I tell him? I’ve considered lying and telling him we decided to elope. Hell, I’ve considered eloping (for lots of reasons!), but I really do want a big ol’ celebration. I also don’t think he should continue to have such a profound impact on my choices. I’ve thought about just coming clean and explaining my reasons. Given his history, and the fact that he’s at least started to realize the impact of what he did to our family, I would hope he would understand. But as much as I have animosity towards him and unresolved anger and sadness, I really don’t want to hurt him. I wish he could have been part of my wedding day and had you told me 15 years ago that he wouldn’t, I would have laughed at you. After all, how could any wedding of mine not include an inappropriate, but funny toast?
I feel very much like my dad lost everything and that in comparison, I’ve done quite all right for myself without him as a dependable father figure for the last nine years.
I hope he will understand that not including him on my wedding day isn’t vindictive or vengeful, but necessary for me to have the best time possible with the new family I’m starting. And that I do love him and will be thinking of him.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.