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Bride Called Out For Refusing To Ask Sister With Severe Mental Health Issues To Be A Bridesmaid

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Planning for a wedding day, while there’s a lot involved, should be fun at least most of the time.

That is until people start inviting themselves to the wedding or to be part of the wedding party itself, confided the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor TiredSister87524 felt incredible pressure to include someone else as a part of her wedding party, though it would make her unhappy.

But when the criticism continued to pour in, the Original Poster (OP) considered giving in.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for not wanting my mentally ill sister as my bridesmaid?”

The OP put in significant time to care for her sister.

“My (25 [female]) sister (27 [female]) has severe mental health issues that have made it extraordinarily difficult for her to function. I’ve taken care of her since we were kids.”

“Our dad had a stroke when I was 8, and my mom had to look after him until he died 11 years later.”

“Our two brothers (40 and 42) are much older than us and busy with their jobs and their girlfriends (now wives).”

“My family has even given me a nickname, Carer Sarah (Sarah is my name). I don’t particularly like it, but whatever.”

“My mom is now my sister’s primary carer, but because I know her so well, I’m often called to step in.”

The OP was burnt out by this.

“The terrible thing is, I don’t really like my sister. I think I did once, but over the years I have spent so much emotional energy on her that I’ve just burnt out.”

“To give a flavor of what life has been like with her, she called me at 3 AM the night before I was due to have a hugely important interview and told me she was standing on a bridge about to jump off. I drove 4 hours to get to her and missed the interview.”

“She seduced my boyfriend at my 16th birthday party and shouted for everyone to hear that the only reason I was born was because my mom had an abortion that went wrong.”

“She told another boyfriend I’d cheated on him (I hadn’t).”

“She racked up over 10-thousand dollars of debt on my credit card in 3 days.”

“I know that none of this is her fault, but all I feel towards her is apathy. It means her actions no longer hurt me.”

“She can be so, so sweet to me sometimes, but it never lasts, and I’ve learned not to like or dislike her, just to endure her.”

“I’ve never, ever told anyone that, and our whole family is under the impression that I love her dearly because of how much I’ve done for her over the years.”

The OP had mixed feelings about her sister’s involvement in her wedding.

“Two years ago I met the love of my life and we’re getting married next year.”

“The truth is, I don’t even really want my sister there at all. I can’t think of a single event centered on me that hasn’t been in some way disrupted by her.”

“I can’t not invite her, so instead, I want her to be just a regular guest.”

“This also means it will be easier for my mom to keep an eye on her, because if she’s my bridesmaid, I know I’ll end up doing it.”

“And I want my bridesmaids to be people I actually love, who love me too, and will make my day easier.”

The OP’s family didn’t agree with her decision.

“My cousins on both sides all had their sisters as bridesmaids, so I’m going against family tradition here.”

“My mom and brothers are shocked, and say it’s extremely damaging for my sister to be rejected like this.”

“One of my brothers says I’m being ableist.”

“My mom says she always thought that one day when she’s too old to take care of my sister and I’ve worked for a few years that I would look after her full-time (this was news to me), but now she’s not so sure.”

“All this has made me feel bad for my sister, and I’m close to giving in.”

“But if I do, it won’t be because I want to.”

“So, looking for honest opinions here.”

“AITA for not having my sister as my bridesmaid?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some called what was going on what they thought it was: abuse and parentification.

“I just wanted to point out that what your family did to you was abuse. Look up parentification. No child should be forced to raise a sibling, let alone one with health issues.”

“I think it’s absolutely fair that you no longer care about your sister, also look up caregiver’s fatigue, if you haven’t already. I’d say sit your family down, and explain things from your point of view, tell them what parentification is, and that it wasn’t okay, no matter the difficult circumstances.”

“Your older brothers have absolutely NO room to criticize you when they left your sister’s care to THEIR EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SISTER. They were both adults and still noped out and left it all to you? Yeah no, they have no right to judge how you feel or your choices.”

“The fact that you don’t care for your sister is NOT YOUR FAULT.”

“And look, whether she understands it or not, your sister is abusive towards you too.”

“I may sound harsh, but I mean it when I say you owe your sister nothing. You don’t owe anything to your mother or your brothers, either.”

“Your mother said it herself, she wanted to ‘retire’ and you’d become your sister’s caregiver. Guess what, you can’t retire from being a parent, and providing care for a disabled child is what she signed up for when she had a kid.”

“Clearly, none of them have ever asked you what YOU wanted, they just wanted you to take the burden so that they didn’t have to.”

“And to finish off my rant, you absolutely do not have to have your sister at your wedding if you don’t want to. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down, and if your mother and brothers can’t understand that, they can be uninvited too.” – Piebandit

“OP, as someone who has worked as a peer support specialist on a multidisciplinary team with people a lot like your sister, it’s okay to let them take on her care. That is what they are trained for and that is their job.”

“If your sister needs a higher level of care, they will help with that too. You don’t have to be her caregiver anymore. Just be her sister, in whatever capacity feels right for you.”

“This means you don’t have to ask her to be a bridesmaid and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. Those people who are trying to make you feel guilty? They can kick rocks.”

“Your sister can have her feelings but she needs to leave them at home or not attend your wedding.”

“I have 2 sisters and I wasn’t a bridesmaid in either of their weddings and it was okay. We have great relationships and all get along.”

“You also don’t have to take care of your sister when your mom isn’t able to anymore. You can be involved in her care but you can lay that burden down. You already did the time you should never have had to do.”

“My heart hurts for little Sarah and everything you went through as a child. You should never have been treated that way.”

“You should not have had to be your sister’s carer. You should not have been repeatedly pushed aside to accommodate your sister’s needs and symptoms.”

“You are worthy of having a day that is just about you and the person you love.”

“I hope your wedding is wonderful. Best of luck to you.” – Western_Composte_4461

Others said the OP could include or not include who would be involved in her wedding.

“OP, I think you need to learn to draw boundaries with your family. They’ve been straight up abusing you since childhood by expecting you, the youngest, to take care of an older sister who should either be in a halfway house, or some sort of program where she can learn to care for herself.”

“They–and she–have so abused your position that you no longer have any feeling for her.”

“Yes, of course, if you tell your family this they will melt down and scream imprecations at you and you will feel guilty and wrong; that’s how they keep you subjugated so that they don’t have to care for her.”

“It’s time to walk away from this toxic mess and live your own life.”

“Disinvite your sister from your wedding, and allow anyone from your family to dramatically flounce as well. Don’t try to convince them otherwise.”

“Stop stepping in for your mother when she wants a break. This will force her to stop enabling your sister and look for real resources and solutions.”

“There are programs for adults in your sister’s position; but as long as you’ll pick up the slack, why should your mother bother to look into them? And go NC with your sister for a while.”

“OP, as someone with mentally ill close family, while their mental illness is not their fault, how they choose to manage it–whether they struggle against it, or go with the flow of it and use it as an excuse–IS their fault.”

“Your sister does not seem to be struggling against it, or trying to manage it and live a good life. That’s on her, and the rest of your family. Walk away.” – JadieJang

“I would suggest that she not be invited to your wedding. She or your other enabling family members will likely do something to disturb the day, I fear.” – Dog1Dog2AndMe

“‘Fine, you look after her.'”

“‘I can’t! I don’t have time!'”

“‘What are you, some kind of ableist?'”

“You know what would be funny? Tell them, ‘Fine, she can be in the bridal party on one condition: if she makes a scene and ruins the whole day, everyone who forced me to invite her is financially liable for the entire cost of the wedding.'”

“Add, ‘Let’s see, that’s eight of you, and the wedding is costing us $12,000, so that’s $1,500 each. Just sign this contract and I will invite her to be a bridesmaid.'”

“Then call them out, ‘What? You’re not willing to sign it? But I thought you were SURE she wouldn’t cause a scene and ruin my wedding! If you’re so sure, sign the contract. If not, don’t sign and she doesn’t come at all, not even as a guest.'”

“People get a lot more circumspect when it’s their money on the line rather than someone else’s.” – MCDexX

Some also pointed out that the OP was not responsible for her sister’s future care.

“Not only does your mom need to make other arrangements for your sister, but she also needs to do the same for herself. Please encourage her and your brothers to look into estate planning and living trust.”

“You don’t want to be responsible for your mom financially if she needs full-time care or passes in debt.” – EastAccountant4036

“You need to think about the stress that always ‘helping out’ will put on your relationship. I know it sounds selfless and good but it can have a very harmful effect on your marriage.”

“Are you okay with putting your husband in debt? Roping him into caring for your sister who is mean and capricious?”

“Really think hard about how you want to manage your relationships because you’re not just impacting yourself anymore, you have another person tethered to you now who might not take so kindly to you reflexively ignoring your (and his) needs.” – rtxj89

“Honestly, you should consider moving somewhere that is too far to travel back quickly. I don’t know where you live but somewhere where it’s a pretty hefty plane ride to go back.”

“Also, my cousin didn’t have either of her brothers in the wedding party at all and they are perfectly normal; some people just have other options.” – thefabulousbri

While the OP felt conflicted about involving her sister in her wedding, the subReddit insisted she did not need to worry. In fact, she had already done way more than enough by their standards. It was time for her family to do their part, wedding and beyond.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.