Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Really Bad Stuff

Well, now that it's over I can FINALLY tell you about what happened 3 weeks before the wedding.

Daniel's mom has been having trouble for a long time.  She got laid off about a year-and-a-half ago and has barely worked since.  As her financial situation deteriorated, so did her mental state.  This wasn't exactly the start of it.  She's been a hoarder, the kind you see on Oprah and reality shows, for years, and it is my understanding that ever since she and Daniel's dad split up, she's had difficulty coping with, well, life.

But of course without any money, things became much worse.  Frankly, we have no idea how she's survived for so long without income, but suffice it to say that she's borrowed from everyone she knows, and everyone has given up on her except for Daniel.

When she told him that she was not coming to the wedding in early July, things began to change between them.  For the most part, Daniel has tried to placate her whenever they talk, trying to make her feel better about her situation, carefully choosing his words so as not to upset her.  It's exhausting and painful for me to watch; he's always upset after they talk.  But after hearing that his own mother did not want to attend his wedding, Daniel stopped trying to be nice to her and started actively trying to help her situation even though she fought him every step of the way.  He desperately wanted to get her in a mental position where she could come to the wedding, and failing that, wanted to at least get her on the road to recovery.

I was in Catalina, ready to be all relaxed and not thinking about the wedding or the other crap that was going on, when I got a phone call from Daniel.  His aunt had just received a call herself from the police department, saying that they had received an email from Daniel's mom saying that they would find a dead body in her house.  When they investigated (complete with SWAT team and helicopter), they found no one home.

Fortunately, her suicide attempt failed, and she had gone to stay with a friend.  When the police found her, they put her in the hospital.

Daniel immediately flew down to San Diego to help, and he and his aunt were able to keep his mom in the hospital for the weeks leading up to the wedding.  There was a lot more to it than that, but you don't really need to know about that.

Daniel didn't go back to work again until after we got back from our honeymoon.  Between trying to keep his mother alive, safe, and housed until we got back, trying to get things done for the wedding, and studying for the ethics exam he had to take a week before the wedding to get his BAR license, he didn't have time for his job.

It's hard to describe what this was like for me.  It was a million times worse for Daniel of course, and that was my main concern.  Above all, way above the wedding, I wanted to do what I could to be there for him.  But at the same time, I had already moved beyond stress and into the early stages of insanity about the wedding at this point.  It was really good that I was on vacation and didn't have so much as a computer with me when this happened, or I think my head would literally have exploded.  I'm also glad he did not take me up on coming down to help because I would not have gotten through the next 2 weeks without that break.

Daniel handled the situation extremely well.  His dad and I were both worried at first--Daniel often doesn't handle stress well--but we were both very impressive by how calm and focused he remained through it all.  At the end of the day, he was relieved that his mom was finally receiving help, and the relief overshadowed all of the other emotions he should have been feeling.  I'm amazed at how much he was able to do in such a short amount of time and that he did not let his mother's absence ruin the wedding.

For the most part, I think I handled it pretty well too.  There is no doubt that I had to shoulder an even greater part of the wedding planning burden because of it, and I made several comments I shouldn't have while trying to get through that, but on the whole, I think I was pretty supportive.  Though I must admit I'm very glad he didn't take me up on the offers I made to postpone the wedding.

But I will never forgive her for what she did to him.  Or me.  But mostly him.  I am far angrier with her than Daniel is.

I understand how much her situation sucks and why she would want to take her life as a result.  To be perfectly honest, the attempt did not surprise me though the timing did.  And if it had been after the wedding, I think I could have forgiven her eventually.  I would be sad that she did it and much sadder for how awful her death would be for Daniel, and I'm sure I would still be angry at her for doing that to him.  But in the end, I would understand why.

But the selfishness of doing it 3 weeks before her son's wedding I can never forgive.  I don't know if she thought about what her death would do to him, and I don't care.  If she was too stupid not to see how much that would affect him, then I cannot forgive the stupidity, and if she did think about it and did it anyway...I cannot describe the anger that boils inside me just thinking about it.  Daniel was already devastated that she wasn't coming to the wedding, and she knew that (or should have given the number of times he told her).  To think that she would upset her son that much more so close to his wedding is beyond my comprehension.

It's sad.  We could have had a good relationship once.  The thing about her is that she really is fun to be around when she's not freaking out.  I liked her for a long time.  Seeing what their conversations did to Daniel and trying to help the fallout pass when he got off the phone had already caused my opinion of her to plummet.  Still, there was hope for a good mother/daughter-in-law relationship before this.  Now, I can't see that happening, not unless she makes some really big changes in her life and sincerely repents everything that she put him through.  But even then, I'm not sure I could forgive her.  You don't mess with my Daniel and get away with it.

If nothing else, I think my insane stress level the last few weeks before the wedding was warranted.

I know we're not the only ones out there with these kinds of problems, so if you know someone whose mental state has deteriorated without substance abuse or a diagnosed mental illness, talk to us, and we'll try to help you.  We know how hard it is to find help or even a place to start in these situations, and we'd like to do whatever we can for you.


  1. I can't even begin to understand Daniel's feelings in this. I'm angry for him too, and completely understand how protective you would feel. And it's the wedding, all the planning that's been put into it, how many people are relying on the date and event ... but the emotional intensity of the day for Daniel, coupled with the emotional intensity of losing one's mother; what was going through her own mind?

    Have you spoken to her one on one about this? Or are you pretty removed?

    I miss you two, and I admire how much strength you two had during this.

  2. I can't even think about talking to her right now. I'm still so angry that there is no way it would end well.

  3. Oh man, I guessed that the issues you were referring to had to do with Daniel's mom based on our previous conversations and the fact that she wasn't at the wedding, but I had no idea of the intensity of the issue. I feel for Daniel - I'm sure it's difficult to see anyone you care about disappoint you on this level... but for that person to be a parent must heighten it exponentially.
    I understand to an extent why she wouldn't come to the wedding and even why this all came to fruition right before the wedding. I could imagine that the wedding and the prospect of facing Daniel's dad and all of the emotions of the upcoming day added to the depression and instability that she was facing. But you're right - it's incredibly selfish.

    I'm so sorry you and Daniel had to go through this (and I'm sure will still be dealing with it for quite some time.) I am, however, so glad that you were able to enjoy the wedding and start your lives together "for better or for worse" even stronger because of it, yeah?


Classy Wedding by the Sea