Dear Abby: Bride’s choice of groomsman brings painful memories

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I am a 37-year-old man who is getting married for the first time. My fiancee, “Holly,” and I went to middle school and high school together, but never really got to know each other until a few years ago. I love her more than words can describe, and I’m happy to be getting ready to spend my life with her.

Growing up, I was socially awkward, partly due to having Asperger’s, which made me a target for bullies. Holly and I are now choosing our wedding party. My sister will be one of her bridesmaids. Holly is an only child, so she doesn’t have a brother who could be one of my groomsmen. She has expressed that she would like her cousin “Gerald” to be one of my groomsmen, so someone from her family is in our wedding party.

The problem is, Gerald was my main tormentor from eighth grade all through high school. At one point in 10th grade, his cruelty led to my attempting suicide. I carry the scar from the attempt on my right wrist.

I understand that people change and mature as they grow older, and I’m OK with Gerald attending the wedding. But the idea of him standing next to me on the biggest day of my life, along with my best friend and two closest cousins, triggers too many awful memories. How can I plead this to Holly without hurting her feelings or looking shallow and petty?

— Nervous Groom-to-Be

Dear Groom-to-Be: Shallow and petty? The scar on your wrist is visible, but clearly there are others, equally painful, that are not. I don’t think it would come across as either shallow or petty if you explain to your fiancee, exactly as you have explained it to me, why you prefer Gerald not be at the altar with you on the most important day of your life. This is something Holly should have been made aware of before the two of you set a wedding date. Do it now.

Dear Abby: I’ve been an alcoholic since I was 21. I was married for 19 years, and my drinking was at its worst toward the end. I was selfish toward my wife and my daughter. Since then, I have learned many hard lessons that could have been avoided if only I had never drunk.

I have apologized to my ex-wife for my actions. I was never violent, but I embarrassed her and my daughter with behavior that I’m ashamed of. After our divorce, I made a few more mistakes and finally sought help. I’m in a Christian-based rehab program and have chosen to follow this path for the rest of my life.

Over the last six months I have sent texts and a few letters to my daughter, hoping for an acknowledgment or some dialogue, to no avail. Since being at rehab, I’ve written her about my feelings and some small talk, always ending my letter telling her she’s the love of my heart, and I miss her. Is there anything else I can do?

— Hoping and Praying in Nashville

Dear Hoping: Yes, there is one more thing you can do. Because she may consider your words nothing but lip service, make an attempt to visit her so she can SEE the change in you. Accept that damage has been done, and you cannot alter the past. Continue living your life on the path you have chosen and pray that, with time, your daughter will recognize that you have turned your life around and let you back in to hers.

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