So. J's family. I'm sure it's not unusual for a Jewish family, or perhaps even for a North American family, but this shit is lightyears from what i am used to.
In the past 6 weeks or so since i arrived, i've attended a huge number of events, completely unrelated to the wedding. Two Passover dinners of 10+ people. Two birthday dinners of 10+ people. One random dinner of 10+ people. Three or four Friday night dinners of 5+ people. Let me count the number of events i've had with my family since i moved out of home in 1998. Excuse me while i tally this up. Hey, it's fucking zero - that's how many. I think i went home for Christmas with my mom and sister a few times. With T over a full year we had Thanksgiving, Christmas and i think a handful of birthdays at her mom's place. With M i had a BBQ at her parents' house once or twice. That's about it for me and family events. My family don't do this stuff. We meet 1-on-1 for lunch or coffee and chat for a few hours and then that's it. Grand Cecil B. DeMille productions just don't happen.
And i'm expected to dress up for this shit. You know, for me family are the people i least need to dress up for - they're the ones i can wear no bra and pyjama pants and slippers with and still feel comfortable. But here it's hair, make-up, no jeans, no tanktops, no sneakers, pretty much none of my actual wardrobe that i wear every day. The thing is i do enjoy dressing up from time to time, but i resent it when i'm forced to do it. Last night i was feeling bloated and disgusting and i've been sick and i still had to wear my job interview pants and a "nice" top that made me look like a cow just so i could go to a birthday dinner. I managed to get out of part 1 of the birthday dinner that was the night before (most of the family inexplicably went to both), but still. I felt extremely anxious all night and had to leave early because i was sick and self-conscious and gross and i was going to have a breakdown.
On May 31, J's mother's best friend is planning some... bridal shower slash engagement party all-chick thing. She wanted to do it for us because we arrived in Canada and got married pretty much straight away so she didn't have the chance to return the favor J's mom did for her daughter. The difference is her daughter has grown up with and loves this stuff! A lot of the people in my friends group don't get married in the first place, sometimes for legal reasons (gay), but mostly because they just don't feel it's necessary to prove their love on paper. But when my friends do get married, the engagement party is casual drinks at a bar, and if there is a bridal shower, it's coffee and cake with a few mates in their lounge room and a pile of magazines. But you know, she wants to do it, and who am i to take that away from her? Our wedding is done so if this is J's mom's opportunity to invite all her girlfriends from work and elsewhere then whatever. So almost twice the number of people are going to this thing as what went to the wedding. I know about 5 of the people there. I don't fucking care, i figured i would just show up, eat and leave.
But now i'm getting scared because i'm realizing it's not just showing up, eating and leaving. I was all geared up for the biggest challenge being swallowing the fucking food because they booked an Italian restaurant for the event (apparently blissfully unaware it's my least-favorite cuisine). We got printed invitations. Like, nice ones. And i'm realizing that as much as i try to fly under the radar like i do at the other family events, i'm not going to get out of being the center of attention here. And that fucking terrifies me. I don't want any speeches or games or embarrassing stories or any of that stuff. It's not their fucking business. It's bad enough when that happens in small groups, but when i don't know anyone there? I don't know these people and i don't want them to know me, not all at once. Let me meet people one at a time, for fuck's sake! I am shaking i am so scared and i know they just want to be nice, but i'm not used to this shit. I never had a bat mitzvah, or a sweet sixteen, or an organized 21st. I never even went to a friend's because my friends didn't do it either. The only big family occasion i've ever had in my life is my wedding and i'm happy to keep it that way. I don't need all these people in my shit.
Of all the things here, it's the family things that i'm struggling with the most. The guilt trips that i need to go to this event or meet that person or get dressed up nicer or be more sociable. Living with J's parents has presented a lot of expected challenges, especially in the kitchen (meat/dairy separation), but the biggest unexpected one is adapting to this huge invasive family and friend group where everyone wants to know everyone else's business all the fucking time. I feel like it's hard to be me, like i am getting suffocated and i don't know what to do.