My younger sister is getting married this year. While I’m very happy for her—I’m finding it is presenting a challenge to me in my sobriety. I’m six months sober, working with a sponsor in a twelve-step program and I’m doing well. My sister and her other bridesmaids, friends, etc. are social drinkers. They drink at every dinner and gathering. There is already talk of going to Vegas for the Bachelorette Party. I went to a local casino the other night and didn’t enjoy it—I don’t really gamble, there was alcohol everywhere, and it just wasn’t a good time. I know their main objective is getting drunk and wild. I’m not judging them—but that’s not me anymore. Am I wrong to not want to go? Or leave early in the evening at other events? I’m very stressed about all of this. Help please!
Signed,“Matron of Honor”
I think it’s amazing you are getting to celebrate your own new beginning and a fresh start as your sister begins her new life as a married woman. There are many things to be excited about for her and I hear your happiness for her but I also know how tough many of those situations can be. Let me start by saying you are not wrong at all for feeling anything you’re feeling. Your recovery has taken a front seat in your life and you’ve worked very hard the last six months, and that is worthy of celebration.
I can’t imagine a better gift for your sister than that of your clarity, presence, and health on her special day. Putting your recovery first and setting boundaries to protect yourself is not selfish at all, but rather a way for you to be the best sister and maid of honor for her.
My advice to you would be to talk to your sister frankly as soon as you can and determine what she values in your role as Matron of Honor and ways to fulfill those while being true to yourself.
Will she feel just as supported as you sit by her side at bridal showers, oooh-ing and aaah-ing over lovely gifts and helping her keep track of who gave what? Will she feel as loved and cared for if you sit with her and tie bows on wedding favors and go to dress alteration appointments with her? Is it the time together and your role in helping her that she values? If so, then the time spent together helping her get ready for her big day will be worth so much more than your participation in pubcrawls and casino nights.
There are certainly ways you can attend those if you feel comfortable doing so but I really applaud your self-awareness in knowing that’s not what feels best for you. You are very wise to look at boundaries and safeguards like choosing which events to attend, which to leave early. You’re taking the best care of yourself and your recovery. The very best gift you could give yourself, and your sister, is honesty about that.
Will it be uncomfortable to say those things? Maybe; I hope not, but maybe. But I can guarantee you that discomfort will pale in comparison to going along with things that aren’t best for you and then resenting each other later. One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is “Choose discomfort over resentment.” Let your relationship with her matter enough to be truthful and open about how you’re feeling.
Best wishes to you (and your sister) as you prepare for the big day!