Kelly* and Pat had a rocky start. Kelly had been the other woman and actually broke up Pat’s first marriage. I knew Kelly from high school, we had grown close when she transferred into my high school during freshman year. Back then we shared our love for Shania Twain, shopping for CDs at Strawberries, and walking to the candy store. Kelly and I kept in touch after I transferred to a different school during sophomore year. Even after graduation we managed to keep the friendship going.
I remember how Kelly’s overbearing mother had been cause of many nights of tears as she grew up. She suffered from a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. I recall being at the house one evening and her mother vacuuming the clean floor and almost losing her mind when a crumb from a cookie hit the counter. Despite her family challenges, Kelly grew into a generous and thoughtful woman. She never missed a birthday or holiday without at least a card or small gift. Kelly was also fun and loved an adventure.
In my twenties, Kelly and I lived together in her condo, this is when she met Pat. They worked together and Pat was married at the time. Kelly informed me one day Pat would be coming to the condo. I voice my displeasure with the situation and felt very uncomfortable at the time, knowing he was running around on his wife. Soon he was at the condo almost every weekend. Not long after strange things started happening. Kelly mentioned some of her pain medication was missing. I thought this was very odd and knew right away it must be Pat.
I told Katie I would be away for the weekend and to count the mediation then leave it on her nightstand. Pat came over and I left. On Sunday when I returned, we counted the tablets and four were missing. He had been stealing them from her while she slept. That very day I told her I was moving out and I couldn’t be around someone who cheats and steals. Who knew what of mine he might take?
Despite the lying and the stealing, Kelly chose to keep the relationship going. Eventually Pat left his wife and moved into the condo. Kelly and I managed to stay in touch and I still cared very deeply for her. I hoped that she was happy and I wanted a beautiful life for her.
Many years later Kelly sprang the news her and Pat were getting married – she mentioned she had put the pressure on and he eventually caved. How nice. Trying to be supportive, I agreed to be her bridesmaid. I received an invitation in the mail and the date was set. Shortly after, I got a text from Kelly saying the wedding was off. I called her and she told me his family was staunchly opposed to the nuptials.
A week or two later, I got another text saying the wedding was back on. I was so confused! The wedding was cancelled once again a few weeks later. Texting Kelly, I found that she was getting too overwhelmed with the wedding and all who opposed of her marrying Pat. She mentioned four of her five bridesmaids and one maid of honor had decided not to participate in the ceremony. Sadly, I understood why. Still, I pressed on trying to be there for Kelly when times got tough.
With the wedding now back on, Kelly told me and her one other bridesmaid about the shower we needed to throw her. She formally requested not just any shower, but a fundraiser to pay for their wedding. My jaw dropped. They couldn’t afford their 250 person wedding and wanted to charge people to attend the bridal shower and request cash gifts. My stomach turned. I tried my best to hang in there, but every fiber of my soul cried out for me to get the heck out.
As a woman of integrity I know how awful it would be to back out of the wedding. I told myself to be a good friend even though I did not agree with the marriage or the fundraiser. I told Kelly I would plan what I could, but I would not be able to attend the shower. It went against everything I believe in. I did not agree with blatantly asking people for money to fund a wedding you can’t afford. It was too awkward and classless. I tried nicely to let her know my feelings but she did not seem to care.
After the shower came and went, I met up with Kelly for a dress fitting. I watched her scream at the seamstress and I wanted to crawl under the nearest table. What happened to my sweet friend? Kelly had turned into a full-fledged bride-zilla. I actually had begun to dreaded going to the wedding.
Riddled with anxiety, I spoke to friends and family about my desire to bow out of attending. When your heart tells you not to go, you don’t go. My gut had always been right and this was no different. Finally I ended up calling Kelly and I told her I couldn’t go. My heart instantly felt lighter and my anxiety was gone. She was upset and our friendship has dissolved since.
I know not everyone would make the same choice I made, but this is what makes me human and flawed. So why did I tell this story? I wanted to share something real. Something that isn’t perfectly curated and hyperbole, but raw and real. Life happens and it gets messy.
*Not her real name