After weeks of feeling conflicted and increasing pressure from my family of origin about attending, I made the difficult decision not to go to the party because I do not feel safe. I expected disappointment from my family, but I was instead met with anger; they are not speaking to me now. Apparently, I am the only guest who feels unsafe and thinks that having the party is a bad idea right now (for a multitude of reasons).
How am I supposed to mend the relationships with my family? I tried to talk to my sister about my concerns weeks ago, but she declined to postpone the party, decrease the guest list, change the plans to stay in, or consider any other alternatives. I feel bad that Veronica, and millions of other people, are not able to celebrate life events the way that we have in the past. It’s not fair, and I can’t imagine the disappointment they feel. I have apologized multiple times and offered to have a special get-together with her at some point, but she, my mom, and the rest of my sisters are still angry at me. Any suggestions for how to move forward? — The Sane One
STOP APOLOGIZING!! You’ve done nothing wrong here. It’s your sister and everyone responsible for the terrible, irresponsible idea of throwing a large destination bachelorette party during a raging pandemic who are in the wrong. THEY should be apologizing, not you. I cannot comprehend the level of selfishness, of willful ignorance, and of entitlement that exists to plan such an idiotic, unnecessary event! I sympathize with people whose major life milestones are being affected by Covid, and I can certainly understand the desire to celebrate special events despite the limitations from social distancing precautions. But there are responsible ways to do so, and throwing a 20-person destination bachelorette party FOURTEEN MONTHS before the wedding is even scheduled to take place is not among them.
I know you know this; I know you know how reckless your sister and, frankly, all of the guests are being to take part in this shit-show, but based on the number of times you’ve apologized, you may not understand just how much you, personally, have been wronged in this scenario. It’s one thing to plan a party that endangers the lives of all your guests and all the people they may come into contact with over the next couple weeks, including hospital patients, seatmates on planes, TSA agents, restaurant and bar staff, and on and on. It is another level of insanity to express outrage when an invited guest politely turns down such an invitation, valuing her life over a weekend in a house with 19 other women and two bathrooms (omg). The increasing pressure from your family and the resulting anger directed towards you after your decision is a projection of their own messed-up values, and while you can’t choose your family, you can certainly choose the kinds of boundaries you create to protect yourself in the future from their ignorance and selfishness. This won’t be the last time their broken moral compasses lead them in a direction you’d be wise not to follow.
You asked me for suggestions on how to move forward, but the truth is that I don’t think you need help with that part. You’re already moving in the right direction. You’re already moving forward. It’s your family who is stuck, fumbling their way around hazard signs and dead ends and “do not trespass” markers. And as long as they rely on their broken moral compasses to direct them, they will continue sailing straight into rocky seas, seemingly oblivious – or at least indifferent – to the peril they put themselves and others in. They may survive this particular reckless trip without event, but at some point they – and the people who surround them – may not be so lucky. By moving forward in your own direction, even if it damages your relationship with these people I’m sure you love, you’re protecting yourself (and others). I would never advise changing that.
I know you want advice on how to mend your relationship with your sister and family, but it isn’t your job to do that. YOU are the aggrieved party here. You were asked to risk your life for a weekend getaway and then were treated horribly when you politely declined for exceptionally good reason. It should be Veronica’s job to make amends. And if she can’t even summon the grace to accept the multiple apologies you were under no obligation to make, perhaps she isn’t someone – sister or not – whom you should be fostering a close relationship with anyway. How else will she try to harm you going forward? How many other ways will she reject common sense, right from wrong, and personal sacrifice for the greater good in a way that jeopardizes your well-being?
The better question to ask rather than how to mend a relationship with morally questionable people is how to manage the mixed emotions – the sadness, disappointment, anger, grief, and maybe even relief – that will undoubtedly arise from holding fast to your personal convictions and maintaining strong boundaries with such people. And that’s a harder question to answer because there isn’t a way around these emotions except through them. You’re simply going to have to feel them. And it will be alienating because apparently no one else in your family shares your morals and convictions. And that’s a terrible feeling – to be alone in your own family and to feel ashamed and appalled by their behavior.
Fortunately, family ties aren’t our only ties and, often, the relationships we form with other people in our lives are stronger and more satisfying. This is as appropriate a time as any to really lean into those relationships in your life. People with whom you share a similar worldview and personal values can provide the kind of emotional support you may need right now, as well as affirm your decision-making. I imagine you likely have a strong circle of such people already. Congratulations – these are your chosen family. They don’t replace your family of origin. Those people and those relationship still exist, but your need for them is diminished when a different group can give you far better emotional support, and without a soul-sucking guilt trip every time you fail to follow misdirected leads into rocky waters.
***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
Miss MJ July 23, 2020, 9:11 am
Yeah, this is wildly selfish and Wendy is right that you need to stop apologizing, LW. I wouldn’t hold my breath that you’ll get an apology because in my experience, the people who are blithely ignoring the pandemic rules really don’t get it and won’t unless they or someone they love gets sick. I very much hope that won’t happen from this party, but, well, that’s a lot of risk factors. You’re absolutely right not to attend.
As for moving forward, I’m guessing you don’t want to cut your entire family off over this, but you also don’t need to grovel or take any crap from them over your decision. You’ve declined a social invitation, stated your reasons and that is that. Do. Not. Engage. On the topic at all again. Ever. They will get over their anger and disappointment and this will pass. And until they do, shift your focus to yourself and others.
And, if it’s any consolation, you’re not the only person who is going to have to deal with family fall out over not attending family events. I’m staring down the barrel of a similar situation later in the fall when we have to tell our largely lax to non-pandemic compliant family members that, no, we won’t be making our usual trip traveling across multiple states to stay with them this holiday season. It’s…not going to go over well, but they and we will survive the unpleasantness.
Bittergaymark July 23, 2020, 10:06 am
Don’t apologize, But do send flowers to the funerals.
Cyndi July 23, 2020, 1:20 pm
I scroll through just to see your replies. On point as usual!
Bittergaymark July 23, 2020, 2:11 pm
ktfran July 23, 2020, 10:08 am
What the fuck? Even pre-covid, I wouldn’t agree to stay in a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom vacation home with 20 people. Depending on who, I’m not even sure I’d do that with five people.
What Wendy and Miss MJ said.
This is the first year I won’t be going home for my niece’s birthday in a few weeks. I’m sure my family is annoyed, but they can deal. Their town is exploding with cases right now. You’re doing the right thing LW. It sucks and it doesn’t feel great, but it’s the right thing.
ArtsyGirl July 23, 2020, 10:19 am
Even without an international pandemic that tops 15 million cases and about 700,000 deaths, you have the absolute right to decline an invitation. The fact that they are attacking you is because they know they are in the wrong and are self-conscious about it. You are verbalizing why this is not a good idea while they want to just pretend there is nothing disrupting normal life. You sister is also likely nervous that other people will drop out and that is why she is over reacting. Stick to your guns, stop apologizing, and adjust your expectations about getting an apology from them even if people get sick. Honestly just distance yourself for a while – don’t engage and don’t try to get them to see your POV. If this is outside your family’s normal behavior, chalk it up to the craziness that is caused by the pandemic, and if it is par for the course consider distancing yourself from them permanently.
FYI July 23, 2020, 10:19 am
Apologies, but is this fake? Who throws a bachelorette party 14 months before the wedding? A lot of things don’t add up here.
ron July 23, 2020, 10:46 am
Someone who fears the engagement will be broken off, but still wants a group celebration of herself.
veritek33 July 23, 2020, 10:53 am
People that like to drag out the festivities for years on end to keep themselves the center of attention.
Miss MJ July 23, 2020, 10:56 am
People who think that they and their wedding is the center of the universe and get mad when invitees decline to attend.
LisforLeslie July 23, 2020, 11:01 am
@FYI – if they planned the wedding this year – they likely could have rescheduled the venue to a year from now and just wanted to do all the other things they had planned. People are selfish and stupid. This is totally and completely believable to me.
LW – every time someone gives you grief, send them the front page article from their home state. Today the refrigerated trucks arrived in Texas. They’re just like the trucks they use to haul frozen foods from a plant to the grocery store – but now they hold DEAD BODIES BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL MORGUES CAN’T FIT ALL THE DEAD BODIES.
We don’t know what long term impacts COVID will have. There is a lot about viruses that we simply don’t know. Flu viruses cause little to no lasting damage to most people. HPV – another virus can cause cancer. HIV – destroys your immune system. Measles can also reset your immune system to that of a newborn baby. Mumps can make you sterile.
And we don’t know why one person has issues and another doesn’t. We don’t even know what we don’t know. We don’t know if antibodies prevents getting sick again. If so, we don’t know what level of antibodies is needed to ensure immunity. We don’t know how long it lasts.
There is so much we don’t know but we do know this:
The mortality rate is low compared to some illnesses but still significantly higher than getting a cold. It can kill you.
Younger people have died.
Other younger people have had their lungs almost destroyed by this.
Some people are getting inflammatory diseases that could present longer term health issues like nerve or joint damage.
Sure maybe your changes are 10 percent that you die. If the party has 20 people – and everyone is exposed two could die. Who’s it going to be? Who’s so disposable in your sister’s life that if they died she’d be like “Whelp, that’s how things fall, but I got my speshul weekend!”
CanadaGoose July 23, 2020, 11:37 am
All these people may well end up with COVID. Not how you want to be right, obviously but this plan is Trump-level lunacy. This party of hers may kill people. Where I live six people in their 20s-30s wanted to meet up and party, so they did in a resort town that had 2 cases. One of them was sick. Now, they all have it, have spread it to dozens of others so far and 1,000 people are in isolation due to exposure to them at the hotel, restaurants, the plane etc. 1,000 people can’t work, leave their houses, are or may get sick (and worse) because someone wanted to party and took no precautions at all. Feel no guilt. Your sister’s actions are shameful. I can’t believe health care workers are going along with it. Insanity.
BessMarvin July 23, 2020, 1:12 pm
Plus — if this is how this group reacts to a person politely declining to attend, it seems all these attendees are going to feel pressure to attend even if they’re not feeling well. After LW was treated this poorly, nobody will want to cancel even if they’re sick. Recipe for disaster.
Fyodor July 23, 2020, 12:32 pm
If this is not a hoax letter, then your family is f*cking crazy and you need to stay away from those people until there’s a vaccine.
katmich15 July 23, 2020, 1:24 pm
Healthcare workers are going along with this??? Good lord, I hope none of them work around here. The idiocy of human beings never fails to astound me.
EscapeHatches August 6, 2020, 11:58 pm
My sister is a healthcare worker and was (until recently) rationalizing it that she deals with horrifying, infectious diseases all the time, what’s the difference?
Then her friend/coworker died. She sees it differently now.
Mommyshlee July 23, 2020, 2:25 pm
This is absolutely insane. Lw please do not feel bad for choosing to stay home and stay healthy. Both my father and his girlfriend work at a hospital and they barely go out other than to get groceries and go too work. Its terrifying for me because my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer last year.
You are making the right decision. Right now people are acting crazy. Stand your ground. If your family and friends don’t understand thats on them and im sure they won’t be convinced otherwise.
Another Jen July 23, 2020, 3:16 pm
Hey– Thanks for doing the right thing. I’m sorry your family is giving you a hard time, but it’s the right call. Anyone willing to take this kind of stupid, unnecessary risk is likely not being all that careful in their day-to-day life. Hope this doesn’t end up being one of those super-spreader parties. But, you skipping it means there’s one less person to amplify the crazy.
MP July 23, 2020, 4:02 pm
A bachelorette party OVER A YEAR BEFORE THE WEDDING in a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom vacation home with 20 people during COVID…. wow. So selfish and ridiculous!!
Nicole Pasalagua July 24, 2020, 3:52 am
These people are just dumb. Why are they having this party? And why are they having it so early?
csp July 24, 2020, 9:49 am
LW, you are 100% right. But I am sure this still stings. But I promise you that time will heal this. Give it time and everyone will move on. If it was me, I would maybe have a bottle of wine delivered saying “A toast to the Bride. I love you”. or venmo $50 and say the first round is on me. Then refuse to engage further.
Rangerchic July 24, 2020, 1:51 pm
I’m sorry your family is being so selfish and also so hard on you. That sucks. My extended family is throwing a surprise 40th bday party for one of my sisters. Now it is just family only and they’ve all been just hanging around each other all year and also taking all the precautions. My other sister called me up and asked if I could come. I haven’t given her an answer yet but I just don’t think I’m comfortable going-even with all of them doing all the right things. I’m immunocompromised so it’s way scary for me! But you know what my sister said when she invited me? She said it is totally up to me and they will understand if I can’t make it! So no pressure. That’s what your family should have said: no pressure. Not be angry with you for not going!
Sea Witch July 24, 2020, 5:54 pm
I can’t believe there are *still* people who don’t believe the pandemic is real. More than 641,000 deaths worldwide at this hour. Within the next 2 days, we’ll surpass the WHO estimate for flu deaths for the entire past flu season.