In answer to this letter in the forums:
Well, I can tell you are a better person than I am because had I called the venue to see whether my brother was lying about its (un)availability and I discovered that he and his fiancée hadn’t even booked it yet for the weekend we were fighting over, I would have reserved it myself for my 40th birthday and sent out the invitations the next day. (Ok, I probably would not have done this for real, but I would have been really, really tempted to!)
All your feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal are understandable, and I think the root of all of this is that you feel abandoned by your brother when you need his support the most. I’m sorry for that. How crappy to go through something like cancer — all the treatments and unpleasant side effects, the fear, the fight, the changes in your body — and not have someone whom you’ve been closest to your whole life there beside you helping you through it. He has disappointed you, and you are right to feel hurt.
But what I wouldn’t do, no matter how obviously tempted you are, is project all this pain you’re feeling on a date on the calendar — one that is somewhat arbitrary anyway. We’re talking about a date here that isn’t your actual birthday. (Which, come on, let’s be honest, even if it WERE your birthday, who cares? You’re 40, not 6. A birthday is NOT as important as a wedding, no matter how many health issues you might be fighting.) So if you’re going to celebrate what you say is not just your 40th birthday but also your successful response to cancer treatment and how far you’ve come since your diagnosis — would it not still be as special in, say, February? You’d have distance from the holidays, from your brother’s wedding, from school summer break. It wouldn’t be any less fun or meaningful.
I celebrated my 40th birthday two weeks early on a weekend getaway with my husband because my actual 40th birthday fell on my son’s first day of kindergarten and I thought the weekends before and after should be spent helping him adjust to such a big transition. I still had a great birthday celebration despite it being two weeks before my actual birthday. When I turned 30 ten years earlier, my now-husband (then long-distance boyfriend) didn’t fly out to see me because his first nephew was born the day before and he wanted to visit him in the hospital. (And, yes, the nephew and I will share birthday weekends forever – his 10th fell the day before my 40th and so on, and I seriously don’t care because I am not a 3-year-old). Anyway, I think you could also have a wonderful celebration of your life and your fight against cancer a few weeks after your 40th birthday.
But… your letter isn’t so much about when to celebrate your birthday as it is about how to mend your relationship with your brother. The answer here is a simple one. It’s so simple that it almost feels like a cop-out as an advice columnist to share it with you. It’s simple — though maybe not easy — and I think it’s your best shot at not only salvaging a relationship with your brother but also finding some peace in your heart and not letting the anger and pain you feel eat away at you like another cancer: Forgive him.
Forgive your brother for seemingly being more loyal to his fiancée than to you. Forgive him for being selfish, for lying to you, for putting his needs before yours, for stealing your special day, for loving you imperfectly, for not being there for you the way you think you’d be there for him if the tables were reversed. Forgive your brother for not being better, for disappointing you, for making you sad and angry and hurt. Just… forgive him. You don’t even have to tell him you’re forgiving him, but if you feel like that’s appropriate, you can. Basically, you really need to tell yourself you forgive him. You need to feel it in your heart and let this go. Because this incident does not define your relationship with your brother any more than having cancer defines you. It is something that has happened to you that you would have preferred hadn’t happened, but I bet it’s made you stronger and more confident in your ability to face immense challenge. You are a survivor, a warrior.
Look at everything you’ve been through and you are stronger than ever. You’re going to let a dispute over a date and some lying from your brother ruin your relationship with him? Come on, you’re stronger than that.
Forgive him, go to his wedding, support him even though he hasn’t supported you the way you would have liked, and then throw yourself one kick-ass party in February. Celebrate being 40 and being in charge of your life, your health, and your relationships. Celebrate being alive and everything that means, including, but not limited to, overcoming set-backs with grace and dignity.
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.
Skyblossom January 25, 2018, 10:37 am
Your brother sounds somewhat spineless. He agrees to do what you want and then he agrees to do what his fiance wants as if he has no thoughts about it on his own or maybe he agrees with his fiance and just isn’t brave enough to tell you.
His fiance is drawing a boundary that says you aren’t going to control important events in their life together. You do not get veto power over their wedding date. They don’t have to consult you over their choices. That is a healthy boundary for any marriage.
Northern Star January 25, 2018, 10:44 am
I’m sorry you went through cancer. That is terrible, and I hope you heal completely.
Your brother has every right to pick his wedding day based on what works for him and his fiancee, regardless of your plans to potentially celebrate on a day that isn’t even your birthday.
You just go ahead and dismiss the importance of the date they picked because “he’s 36…” Well, a 39-YEAR-OLD tantruming like a child because someone else dares to get married during their birthday month is pathetic.
Also: You will never have the same close relationship with your brother as long as you feel such contempt for his life partner.
Skyblossom January 25, 2018, 11:02 am
And she is dismissive of their reason for wanting that date. The anniversary of when they became boyfriend and girlfriend is as significant to them as the anniversary of her birth is to her. If she has made it to 40 with no major conflict on her birthday she should count herself lucky.
They are also picking a date when she will be healthy enough to go to their wedding and enjoy it.
JD January 25, 2018, 10:50 am
I am not reading all of that second grade drama. I stopped once I realized you actually asked your brother to pick another weekend because that is the weekend you’d celebrate your birthday, not even your actual birthday, which also wouldn’t matter. I mean, you have GOT to be kidding me. You are 40, not 5. Heck, 5 year olds celebrate on different days. You might be the most immature almost 40 year old ever.
And yes, it sucks to have cancer and great you are now well, but again, it is one random date. Grow up! If I was your brother I’d have laughed in your face as I walked away.
carolann January 25, 2018, 4:04 pm
You would think surviving cancer would make LW not sweat the small stuff. Shame on her for being such a GIANT BABY!
Gimme a break!
hazel January 26, 2018, 8:08 am
well, she has survived for now but implied that she probably won’t see her 50th birthday. It’s not like she is all cured. That sort of knowledge messes your head up in a big way and makes you vulnerable when it seems others care less about you than you do about them.
Skyblossom January 26, 2018, 11:00 am
Cancer doesn’t change who you are. It does highlight and emphasize who you are. A thoughtful person wouldn’t make this demand even if they had cancer. A self-centered person will use the cancer to make demands because it becomes a useful tool to beat up people to get what they want. It is similar to a bridezilla. Planning a wedding doesn’t turn a woman into a monster but the excuse of the wedding can be used as an excuse to act in a way that is inexcusable. The LW is acting the same way. The true personality that may or may not have been hidden is on full display.
Dear Wendy January 26, 2018, 12:16 pm
I will say that the LW emailed me practically demanding that I delete her letter (she did say “please” though), saying she thought it would be private and had no idea people would read it. (She originally posted the letter in the forums). That really rubbed me the wrong way. I have a feeling her perspective and her version of the truth may be particularly skewed.
MissD January 26, 2018, 12:33 pm
@Wendy I’ll never understand why people write in or post in the forums thinking their letter will be private…. it’s a public website. That’s the point of it.
Dear Wendy January 26, 2018, 12:46 pm
I know. I was like, “Did you think you were emailing someone privately? Did you not realize you were posting on a public forum?” She said she did, but I guess she thought it was a forum not many people read? And she didn’t realize it would be highlighted on the main page and then linked to on social media. So that’s why I deleted the letter from the main page (but kept my reply and an answer to her letter in the forums). She said she wrote in to get advice and she didn’t get the advice she wanted. I guess this was another case of the LW wanting everyone to tell her how wronged she was, how right she was in her reaction to such terrible treatment. And here I thought I was exceedingly empathetic and compassionate in my response to her! I will now go back to being bitchy.
LisforLeslie January 26, 2018, 1:13 pm
So she found an internet website with forum – to which she could see general usage (when someone posted last) and decided that because she didn’t use it that no one would see it? Maybe she just should have started a wordpress blog or something.
I thought you were very compassionate. I was not. I have sympathy for dealing with cancer. I have no sympathy for expecting everyone else to stop their lives because she turns 40.
JD January 26, 2018, 2:35 pm
Wendy you had such a kind reply. One I could not muster. We do see a good amount of anger over not receiving the answer they want. Reality sucks. I have posted and not loved the responses but that is why I asked. If I knew I was right I wouldn’t have asked. And believe me, I am always right heheheheh.
I am so sympathetic to someone dealing with illness. I have been very ill in the past, still dealing with a good amount of it, and compassion is so needed. Being a brat and thinking someone should change their life for that is not how it works. One of these cases where she just wants to be right.
I also am sure that they planned it the days that worked for them and didn’t think she would lose it over a Saturday near her bday. I think I lost it when she was concerned over their anniversary falling on her bday. Good grief. My bills are all due on my bday…..and actually, that kinda does suck.
azgirl January 25, 2018, 10:58 am
Personally – I think the 26 yo fiance is the issue in this situation. She told the LW’s brother he couldn’t shave his head because he didn’t like it? (He was supporting his sister, who has cancer!) He didn’t shave his head because he felt like it. Not to mention, if I ever told my husband how he is required to where his hair? Seriously? or if he told me how to wear my hair? The fiance picked a wedding date based on the fact that it’s close to an imaginary anniversary, but really, probably knew the sister’s desire to have her 40th birthday party that weekend, and wants to exert herself as the more important person’s in the brother’s life. I get the feeling that once the marriage happens, the sister will be lucky to even see her brother.
I think the brother should dump the selfish fiance and book the venue for his sister’s birthday party.
However, I agree that the LW should forgive the brother to try and re-establish the relationship. She should move the date to another month as I agree a birthday party doesn’t trump a wedding and she’s trying to keep the peace within the family, but I don’t think the LW is the issue in this scenario.
MMR January 25, 2018, 11:34 am
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????????? One off comment about how she prefers her fiance with hair and she’s immediately selfish and malicious? It was insensitive, yes, but it was one comment, one time.
The LW freely admits that she doesn’t know the fiance well. Perhaps she should give her SIL the benefit of the doubt and try to get to know her before passing judgement? Perhaps not railing against her brother’s wedding date and wife because she wants her birthday week to herself will help maintain her relationship with her brother? Perhaps its completely reasonable for a grown man to prioritize his wife’s wishes over his sister’s when the stakes are so low?
JD January 25, 2018, 11:47 am
Totally what I thought. I would NOT be happy if my SO shaved his head bald. I would find it such a turn off. And the concept of not being able to have any say about what your SO does with their hair? Why not? I would not be attracted to a shaved head (really you should see the odd shape of my SO’s head, its odd lol) nor long hair. He should be happy but I do believe it would be odd to do something you know would turn your SO off. Cancer is a lot different reason and men don’t need long hair anyway but still, to have an opinion about it is hardly horrible.
bagge72 January 25, 2018, 12:15 pm
How much do you want to be that the fiance meant that he can’t do it as a regular hair cut, and this women took it the wrong way.
azgirl January 25, 2018, 2:20 pm
That could be. I mean – I don’t want my husband to have a shaved head either, but if he shaved his head in support of his sister, who is battling cancer, as a show of solidarity, I am not making a big deal about it.
MMR January 25, 2018, 2:59 pm
Who made a big deal about it?
Did she say:
“Don’t shave your head again, I don’t like it.”
Or did she say:
“I can’t believe you’re supporting your sister by shaving your head. Under no circumstances should you have done this without my explicit approval. My dislike of your appearance clearly outweighs any benefit your sister derives from this act of solidarity.”
One of those is pretty innocuous, if insensitive. The other is outrageous and pits the LW’s needs agains the SIL’s (i.e. makes a big deal about it). I think we would have gotten more detail about the situation if the SIL said that latter.
ktfran January 25, 2018, 3:19 pm
The LW said that the soon to be SIL wasn’t allowing him to shave his head again because she didn’t like it. Not allowing someone to do something is super controlling IMO.
If my husband didn’t allow me to do something with my appearance, I would tell him to fuck off. Actually, I wouldn’t be married to someone who wouldn’t allow me do something.
It’s perfectly reasonable to state preferences.
Maybe the LW is exaggerating, but maybe there is some truth to it. It is possible soon to be SIL is staking her claim and doesn’t like that he has a close relationship with his sister, so is exerting control wherever she can.
MissD January 25, 2018, 3:24 pm
@ktfran considering how dramatic this LW sounds over her birthday, I’m not sure I trust her perspective on things. Like others have said, we don’t know what exactly the fiance said or how she said it. It’s very possible that the LW took some small comment and twisted it out of proportion. We just don’t know.
ktfran January 25, 2018, 5:41 pm
She could be overly dramatic, or she could be going through a really tough time and is having trouble adjusting. Ron mentioned something about chemo brain below.
IDK, I think people are being overly harsh to her reaction. I can’t imagine it feels good to find out you have cancer, come home to get treated and all that entails and on top of that, not feel supported by someone you thought would support you. All that piles up, you know? And I can see how someone may not behave his or her best.
I’m picking up resourcing duties for someone who is out on leave because of cancer. She was supposed to come back early January, now it looks like March. Her boss and I had a conversation literally an hour ago. She’s not doing well. At all.
She’s probably already feeling like shit, why pile on top of that?
dinoceros January 25, 2018, 3:42 pm
Even if the fiancee were selfish (and that assumes that the LW is accurately portraying how the situation played out), the brother chose to be with her and chooses to listen to her. He’s a grown man.
LisforLeslie January 25, 2018, 11:01 am
Repeating my comment from the forums: My 40th birthday, and days leading up to the birthday, were spent waiting for my nephew, first and only grandchild on both sides to make his first appearance outside the womb. We now share a birthday. Every subsequent birthday has been child focused and I am delighted by it.
Adding in: You weren’t even planning on having your celebration on the actual day. Weddings are a hell of a lot more work and cost than birthdays. Your brother has rightly stood by his partner. Back down, re frame this somehow because he did nothing wrong other than making you half-assed promises that he couldn’t and didn’t want to keep in the first place.
ktfran January 25, 2018, 11:04 am
Wendy – I think you wrote a great, compassionate response to this LW despite some of the harsh words written. Thank you. LW, I hope you read and listen to Wendy’s advice.
Also, LW, FWIW, my sisters and I wanted to do something big for our mom’s 60th last year. As in, take her on a trip. But there were a billion things going on around that time that required a lot of travel/expenses, including my wedding and my nephew’s first birthday, so we’re planning to take her on a trip this year. She’s totally ok with it. It doesn’t matter when you celebrate, what matters is that you do!
MissD January 25, 2018, 11:07 am
Wendy’s advice was far more compassionate than mine. WWS.
Skyblossom January 25, 2018, 11:12 am
Way more compassionate than mine. I held back because she has cancer but it is no excuse to be a drama queen. My husband had cancer and he didn’t use it as an excuse to be demanding of people or to take control of their important events.
Skyblossom January 25, 2018, 11:32 am
“They refuse to change or even compromise on the day, venue, year, etc, ”
Why would their changing the venue help you? If they changed the year you would again have another birthday or you could be having a major surgery or be sick from drugs. Your request seems so unreasonable. Your brother can’t put his life on hold because of your request or your birthday or your cancer.
You seem angry at not being able to control your brother. You seem angry that his fiance is his priority and has become his most important family member.
I have to wonder if you complained to your parents and got nowhere with that so came to Dear Wendy or maybe your parents don’t cater to tantrums so you skipped them.
You choose how you see this. You could be happy to be healthy enough to attend and enjoy yourself or you can choose to be angry and sulk. You can celebrate with them or you can continue to demand the right to veto their life events. How you look at this says everything about you. It says who you are and how you choose to perceive yourself in relation to other people. The way you react will determine whether you have people in your life or whether you end up alone. You can be a warm, kind, loving woman or a selfish, center of the world woman. The choice is yours and the consequences are yours.
LisforLeslie January 25, 2018, 11:48 am
I don’t think it’s control so much as no longer being the highest priority in his life. I’ve seen this dynamic with brother/sister duos who are close in age and close emotionally. The dynamic has to change because people grow up and even familial relationships change over time.
MMR January 25, 2018, 11:36 am
Also repeating my comment from the forum:
I think @brise picked up on a good point, which is that you’re a little bit jealous of your future sister-in-law. You went away for cancer treatment (I can’t even imagine how devastating this is – I am truly sorry you went through this.) and when you came back, there was a new woman in your brother’s life that was super important to him, and that you didn’t have a chance to get to know. Now his life priorities have changed, and he’s moving onto a new phase of his life, while you’re (understandably) still reeling from this past year and really want him to be the same person he was when you left. This is completely understandable, but also, unfair to him.
It seems like you’re lumping this entire terrible year into one ordeal, and – for lack of anyone or anything else to blame for this entire, awful experience – the wedding-date-is-to-close-to-my-birthday issue and your SIL have become an easy and convenient target for your anger that your life has become and will continue to be different.
I think you need to take a step back and try to imagine your SIL as a new asset and potential source of support, rather than as a challenge to the status quo. Ask to meet her one-on-one, apologize for blowing up this issue, and ask to turn over a new leaf. If your brother is as great as you say, it’s likely that she’s pretty great too. Also cut her some slack. She’s planning a wedding and her SIL has just thrown a tantrum about the date being too close to her birthday. She has a lot on her plate.
Lianne January 25, 2018, 11:39 am
Wendy, you astound me sometimes at your grace. This was an exceptionally compassionate response.
I agree that I think this is more about your brother disappointing you and not having your back than it is about you being upset about not being able to celebrate the day you want to. Be the bigger person here. Brothers aren’t always the people you want them to be no matter how close you are. My brother and I are very close, but I have to remind him of simple things, like calling our stepmother on mother’s day, or wishing my husband a happy birthday. He missed our dad’s 50th birthday party to go to “the last ever Phish concert” (spoiler alert: they got back together). My dad didn’t hold it against him. As Wendy said, just forgive him. You will feel better for it in the long run.
Hannanas January 25, 2018, 11:40 am
“You seem angry at not being able to control your brother. You seem angry that his fiance is his priority and has become his most important family member.”
I got this feeling too. I mean I think Skyblossom is being harsh, but I also think it’s the truth.
Bittergaymark January 25, 2018, 11:43 am
Gee… And here I always thought brushes with death would cause one to grow and mature — to not sweat the small stuff or get caught up in absurdly petty and selfish squabbles…
So much for THAT theory.
I guess some people always gotta be the pretty pretty princess…
Cleopatra Jones January 25, 2018, 11:43 am
I’m sorry, I can’t even with this LW.
All this drama over a birthday? Like she’s ready to burn her familial bridge because her brother is getting married the Saturday after her birthday?
Dude, I haven’t been able celebrate my birthday in the last 10 years because my mother died on my birthday. I was in the ER at 12:01 AM holding her hand as she passed away from lung cancer. Then I had to start the funeral arrangement process from the hospital. So I don’t even understand why this LW is all up in arms over her brother having his wedding on her birthday weekend.
LW, I get that you’ve survived cancer, and want to celebrate. That doesn’t mean that everyone in your life has to stop living so you can celebrate.
bagge72 January 25, 2018, 11:43 am
I really couldn’t bring myself to finish reading this. So if something crazy happen that I’m missing please tell me! But um are you really trying to make your brother change his wedding date, because you want to celebrate your birthday on that date? That’s so fucked up! It’s not your birthday, your birthday is on Wednesday. Have you birthday party the weekend after, you won’t die having to wait a week to celebrate. This really the stupidest thing I’ve seen somebody be upset about, and you are 40! I would expect this from some 20 year old turning 21! Add to that the fact that you would be mad that he would be celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary on the day you might celebrate your 50th birthday. This just can’t be real. This can’t really be something a grown up is mad at. Especially one who is so close to her brother, and should realize that a wedding trumps a birthday.
SpaceySteph January 25, 2018, 12:00 pm
We are talking about NEXT January, right? Like… a year from now?
Its a bit insane to me that you’re already planning your next birthday when you are barely past the last one. To think you have claim on an entire weekend a year from now because it happens to be near your 40th birthday is quite self-centered. And the way you are dismissive of their reasons while simultaneously acting like a spoiled child yourself is rich.
It’ll be hard for your parents to do Christmas and New Years and your birthday and their wedding…? Well, if that’s true then they are adults and can choose to have a low key Christmas and/or NYE in order to rest up. You can do the weekend before their wedding, the weekend after their wedding, heck, you can throw a big NYE blowout of your own to celebrate your 40th. You, like them, have 51 other weeks a year to choose from.
Skyblossom January 25, 2018, 12:11 pm
And she is annoyed that they won’t change the venue or the year. The I’m turning 40 next year so pick another year or I’m turning 40 next year so pick another venue is so over the top that no one would pay attention to her whining. I think she wants her brother to show that she is valued by making some change in his wedding plans. He must change the date or the year or the venue to show that she is as important as the future wife. She wants him to prove to her that if she makes demands he will cater to those demands. He is saying no. That is a necessary and healthy boundary he needs if he is going to have a successful marriage. His wife will be his primary partner.
SpaceySteph January 25, 2018, 12:27 pm
Yeah I think you’re right. Her original title “my relationship with my brother will never be the same” is true. Your relationship with your single brother is not going to the the relationship with your married brother. He’s growing up, his priorities are changing. And that’ll be true no matter when or to who he gets married.
LW needs to come to terms with that.
Juliet January 25, 2018, 12:38 pm
LW, congrats on your success in treating your cancer. I haven’t had to go through that kind of treatment myself, but have been a primary caretaker and I know it’s a long process that has too many unpredictable parts.
When I read your letter I was stuck with the no-win nature of it. And that is life. You are stuck between honoring yourself and honoring your brother. He’s stuck between you and his future wife. She’s stuck between her hopes and reality. That means it’s time to go slowly and be thoughtful.
A thought I have for you is that your brother is getting married and starting his own family. That’s good, and right, and natural. When that happens his main loyalties need to shift away from his birth family (including you) and toward the family he is building. Also good, right, and natural. That doesn’t mean he forgets about you, but it is a change for him to get used to in his own life. It sounds to me like this is the second time he’s had to figure this out…and the first time he sided with you (shaving his head in solidarity) and that didn’t go so well for him. Now he’s trying to see what happens when he sides with his future wife. (Not giving him absolution for lying to you, but trying to understand maybe why his behavior changed.) Give the guy a break, please, and let him have some time to learn how to balance his increasing family responsibilities gracefully.
Thankfully you have months to work this out, lots of opportunity to go slowly and be thoughtful.
dinoceros January 25, 2018, 3:47 pm
I posted in the forums, but LW, I’m going to assume you are angry at the world over the crappy things that have been happening to you and it’s causing you to act out. In the same way that if I have a bad day, I might snap at someone over something I wouldn’t normally care about. I hope that you don’t normally force people to change life milestones so you can have a birthday party on the exact day you want.
I also am going to hope that you don’t normally treat your birthday like a national holiday and are instead trying to have a special celebration to mark what you’ve been through healthwise. You have a year to come up with a better plan, that’s plenty of time.
dinoceros January 25, 2018, 3:48 pm
Also, unless your brother normally lies a lot, he probably lied because he thought you’d freak out if he just said no.
Copa January 25, 2018, 3:51 pm
Wow. This was a shockingly compassionate response! I feel bad for the LW that she’s had such serious health issues, but this letter was super childish.
LW, you don’t get to lay claim to a random Saturday that falls close to your birthday. What’s the harm in waiting another week? Or even a few weeks, if you’re concerned about the excitement from your brother’s wedding dying down first. They don’t owe you the courtesy of making sure that you’re okay with their wedding date just because your birthday happens to fall on a close date.
For someone who wants them (and, I’m assuming, us) to understand how important that date is to you, you’re incredibly dismissive of why the date is important to them.
I think it’s ridiculous and tacky that you called the venue to see if your brother was lying, too. (It sucks and is silly that he lied, but really!?)
As a last thought, Birthday Week shouldn’t be a thing. (I personally hate when people need to make a giant fuss about their birthdays.)
Stillrunning January 25, 2018, 4:16 pm
Terrific answer, Wendy.
Juliecatharine January 25, 2018, 4:30 pm
Wendy is very compassionate. I don’t see this letter so kindly. Cancer isn’t a free pass to be an asshole. Forcing your brother to lie about his wedding date because you want it for a fucking birthday party *that won’t even be on your goddamn birthday* is insane. I double down on my previous answer: grow up.
Ron January 25, 2018, 4:37 pm
Chemo brain really is a thing. It degrades your thinking ability for months. This may well explain your over-reaction. I think both you and your brother’s future wife are jealous of each other and fighting for position.
Celebrating your birthday 10 days late isn’t a huge deal at age 40. I know many who have shifted milestone celebrations this much to accommodate the schedules of themselves, their guests, and their preferred venue. I think you are over-reacting because you don’t expect to live to 50. This is a bad attitude to take and therapy may help. Breast cancer treatment is getting better and better, so unless your doctor gave you the prognosis that 50 is unlikely, I think you will be better off to take the optimistic view. I don’t believe attitude significantly impacts survival outcomes, but it will sure give you a happier and more meaningful life. Please don’t succumb to pessimism. Best of luck to you and may you live to be 100.
Sketchee January 25, 2018, 5:21 pm
Generally I’ve found making plans with other adults is very very hard. Most people aren’t very good at it. Even important plans.
It’s easiest for me to just be flexible. I celebrated my 35th birthday on several different weekends with many many people It was a lot of fun. Lots of friends joked about how it was always my birthday.
In my family, we move and celebrate belated and early events all the time. My mom is one of 11 kids, I have a 50+ cousins on that side, and I have a whole other side of my family. We all also have friends and jobs! So yeah, move your party because it’s the practical thing to do.
Then make it a great party. AND do something else the week of your birthday/brothers wedding with some close friends (while making his wedding about family)
All of this time worrying about a date. Reframe and think how lucky you are to have a brother who is making a happy choice to get married. It’s super awesome that you get a chance to welcome a new sister-in-law into your family.
And on top of that, it’s awesome that you have a whole 40th year to celebrate. Why celebrate the day when you have a whole year? Do something special and different every month of it if you want.
I understand that you don’t feel that way yet. If you take actions to think about all that’s good about this situation and show all of the good things you want to celebrate, you’ll quickly move forward.
SpaceySteph January 25, 2018, 5:28 pm
A friend turned 50 recently and threw himself a year of parties/outings/vacations, every other month there was an event. We called it the year of the Don. It was actually pretty awesome and I mostly hate birthdays.
LisforLeslie January 26, 2018, 6:59 am
That actually sounds delightful in a “we’re doing stuff, come join us if you can” versus “It’s my DAY/WEEK/MONTH/YEAR – you come to everything I plan or you’re not my friend!” that we’ve heard from various people on this site about birthdays, weddings, births and whatnot.
SpaceySteph January 26, 2018, 4:39 pm
Oh yeah, definitely wasn’t a command performance. I think I went to 2 parties and maybe the beach day.
As Sketchee said, it’s hard to organize adults to do anything with all their different schedules, but if you have a bunch of events you’ll probably get everyone you care about to go to one of them (though not all the same one). LW really wants to celebrate her life, she could have a “Year of the LW” starting maybe with a low-key brunch the weekend before her bday in january, and ending with a giant blow out party in December.
TheOtherOtherMe January 25, 2018, 5:48 pm
I just can’t with this letter. Maybe it’s because I don’t think people should make such a big deal about their birthday after the age of 10 or so…but really the subtext of this letter is jealousy of the brother, and self-pity because of the cancer. So deal with that, LW, before you blow up your relationship with your brother and future sister-in-law. And maybe re-frame your attitude towards birthdays? You’ll be 40 for a WHOLE YEAR. Find ANY OTHER weekend to celebrate. Trust me, the party will be just as much fun.
Petunia January 25, 2018, 6:21 pm
This is about loss..loss of security about health which is so very scary, now loss of being #1 woman in your brother’s life. Because..you’re no longer his # 1 priority which can feel like abandonment. His loyalty needs to be with his fiancé. In this letter you sound distainful and jealous of his new relationship which is actually understandable but sad. I’m sure the fiancé and your brother have picked up on the negative energy. They are setting a necessary boundary around their new primary relationship. This change in your relationship with your brother is a necessary loss. Your only choice is to move forward, forgive and make amends, and perhaps get support in grieving these changes. I found turning 40 to be a big shift in and of itself. I would suggest as Wendy says forgiving..and apologizing to both. I wish you peace..
Kym January 26, 2018, 11:30 am
Wow your 40 I hope your brother tells you in no uncertain terms NO changes and grow up
CurlyQue January 26, 2018, 12:14 pm
It’s probable the LW has been making her excitement over getting past the worst of the treatments and feeling more like herself (hair, breasts, etc.) known. That she was looking forward to celebrating a birthday she wasn’t sure she was going to get too, as well as hopefully her improving health; and that when she found out her brother and his fiance were planning their wedding for the weekend they already knew she wanted to celebrate her big birthday on she probably felt a little deflated. That they weren’t as excited for her as she wanted them to be probably hurt.
I’m not saying her reaction was reasonable, but i am saying compassion is helpful and Wendy gave the best advice. Forgive. Forgive the fiance for caring more about her upcoming wedding than celebrating your milestone LW. We all care about our personal lives more, which is why you want everyone to be as excited about your birthday as you are.
brise January 27, 2018, 5:12 am
The LW went too far when she called the venue to check her brother’s lie. That is like stalking a young couple. I would be frightened by such a resentful and controlling behavior, and I would have taken some distance as well if I were the SIL. That action was a recipe for disaster, as it could only lead to disappointment, when the LW had no right to decide when the couple will marry.
brise January 27, 2018, 5:42 am
And the saddest point in the LW’s post is: even though she genuinely loves her brother and wants the best for him, she seriously spoiled one of the happiest event in his life. She should rejoice in it, jump of joy for him, not make of it an awful dilemma about herself. The only way for her to do the right thing is to mend fence, give an apology for the fuss and organise her birthday at an other date.
anonymousse January 28, 2018, 3:14 pm
The saddest part here is that, no matter how immature this woman has behaved, she’s having a totally normal emotional reaction. Totally normal, given her experiences of late.
The amount of compassion here, well. There’s not much to speak of, is there?
Some people are weaker, emotionally then others. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve criticism at times, for bad behavior, but JFC. She wrote in for advice, not to be hammered for her immature, yes, but perfectly understandable emotional behavior to extreme life circumstances. Not everyone has the wherewithal to be perfectly behaved at all times.
anonymousse January 28, 2018, 3:17 pm
I say perfectly understandable because it’s clear she has a great emotional attachment to her brother, and it seems he let her down when she needed support the most. I’m not saying her behavior is logical, or admirable. But it is a very human reaction to behave this way.