Thursday, July 15, 2010

Family Affairs

Last Saturday I told my father I was getting married.  This is not your usual father/daughter relationship.  My dad hasn't talked to me in four years.  On and off for 14 years.  It's a really long story, and a story that I don't really know how to begin to explain.  I don't imagine it's typical to be anxious, really anxious, to tell your family that you're going to get married.  But my family isn't exactly typical.  My parents were born and raised in Sicily, and came to the US with their ideas of how thier family should be, how the world should be.  Not much has changed in my father's mind since then.

When I first began dating my fiance, I decided that I wouldn't tell my family about him, mostly because they can be pretty judgemental and intense.  I've had past relationships end partly because of the family dynamic we have.  So, I wanted my relationship to be strong enough to withstand the inevitable barrage of criticism and off-hand comments that was sure to come.  My mother was the only one who knew about him.  She has been my only unconditional supporter.

So, when I became engaged I told my mother first, and she was so happy for me.  Probably because she didn't ever think I would do it...getting married was not high on my list of things to do in my life.  She had said many rosaries praying for this moment to come!  Then, I told my sisters.  They were less than enthusiastic.  They were hurt that they barely knew him, that they didn't realize how serious we were dating.  After the initial shock they're now as supportive as they can be.

The one thing I've been putting off and putting off was telling my dad.  I realized that I hadn't been moving forward on planning because my dad didn't know.  I didn't think I could tell my cousins, uncles, grandmother until my father was told first.  I hated the feeling that I was hiding something from them; as though I was doing something wrong!  So, after lots of contemplation, I picked a day and decided "that's when I'll tell him." 

Saturday didn't go well.  But it went exactly as I expected it would.  Everyone told me to be patient, to be gentle with him, that it'll take time for him to accept it.  Maybe.  The wedding is in 8 months, and I hope he'll come around.  But for now I'll move forward to plan this new part of my life with or without his support.

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct... Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."      - Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson