Ten … 10 times. That is the number of times I’ve been asked to be in a wedding. It only averages out to about once a year over the past decade, but it still feels like a lot. I’ve probably been invited to three times that many weddings (maybe more, I lost count about 5 years ago).
For most of the weddings, there has been a shower or event associated with it. Then as time went by, the bridal showers turned into baby showers and eventually more bridal showers. I think I naively thought that once my first round or two of friends (high school friends and then college friends) got married, the weddings were mostly over. I may have actually believed that, by age 30, everyone was either married or not going to get married. Like I said, naive. Similarly, I expected the baby showers to last a few rounds, a few years’ worth.
I finally accepted that the weddings and showers might continue on indefinitely. However, in this acceptance comes the possibility of getting burned out from too many weddings without a “plus-one,” too many wedding events and bridal showers where I’ve been consoled with, “You could be next,” and the fact that I’ve also caught three or four bouquets without even trying!
Then there are the baby showers at which I am less and less able to relate to my fellow guests — several times myself being the only “single” attendee. I began to resent the never-ending flood of invitations that showed up in my mailbox. Even for friends whom I care deeply about, it becomes more and more challenging whether to accept the invites or to decline and fight the feeling of guilt. I’m always glad I already have plans that weekend so I don’t have to suddenly come up with a scheduling conflict.
There comes a time when a line has to be drawn — to protect myself, my heart, from bitterness and hurt, and also to protect my friendships from feeling the impact of the bitterness and hurt. It’s not just about the cost of buying gifts while thinking, When will it be my turn? It is the fact of having to ask myself that dozens of times over the years — especially when the question begins to morph from, When will it by my turn, to, Will this ever be me?
I think as the years have gone by, it’s become more difficult. With each passing failed relationship, wedding seasons began to carry a heavier weight. As much as I’ve tried to go with the flow year after year, every season has taken a toll on my heart … on my capacity to hope, and on my ability to show my happiness for my friends without being clouded by my own pain.
So, when the inevitable next round of showers arises, along with the “Your turn will come” remarks, the bitterness inside could grow. The wounds only grow deeper as I wonder if my turn has come and gone. These are thoughts that come and go regardless of weddings and babies. They tend to get louder and more prevalent when everywhere I turn I see a reminder — a reminder of what I once thought I could have; of what I may never experience.
So, for those friends I love and care deeply for who aren’t walking the path of singleness with me, please don’t be hurt or offended if I decline a chance to celebrate with you. I am happy for you. I wish you the best. I may turn down invites, but not for lack of caring.
When I, as a single person, am bombarded by images of a life I’ve always dreamed of but seems to be moving farther away as each day passes … I can best find consolation with those who are walking similar paths.
I know marriage is not some end goal to achieve, nor does it solve life’s problems (I’m sure it adds as many as it seems to solve). It’s not that I want to live the lives my married friends live. I know, and have said time and again, that the grass is not “always greener on the other side.” That doesn’t mean I don’t want the chance to find out for myself.
Yeah, being single is great sometimes … I have loved it at times because I’m a pretty independent person (ok, maybe a bit selfish too). However, just because I’ve enjoyed it doesn’t mean I want to be here forever.
So, what do I do in the meantime?
Do I continue to put myself through the feelings of being less-than, of wondering when — or if — it will be ever happen for me?
I think it’s OK to say no to an invitation. I don’t have to go to every wedding or shower I’m invited to attend. One or two weddings a year, one or two showers a year … as life changes, the number of events I attend may change as well. It’s all about setting boundaries, and keeping my sanity intact. That is just what I will have to do until … if … when, my turn arrives.
What do you do when you get invited to another wedding or shower? How do you guard against bitterness? How do you celebrate with your friends who are getting married or having a baby?