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Coming To Terms With Childhood Trauma While Wedding Planning


**A word of warning: This post deals with the topic of incest. If this is a trigger for you, please read with care. This may also not be safe for reading at work.**

Over the years, we’ve discussed at length on APW (and in the book, at further length) how planning a wedding can make you come to terms with how you wish things were, versus how things are. This can come in huge variations, and while sometimes it’s the pain of having a bridesmaid that’s not really there for you, sometimes it’s the life-changing pain of coping with how profoundly damaged your family is, or your childhood was. For Jenni (who wrote about her legal ceremony, the first legal same-sex wedding in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and who is now planning her big-party wedding) history hit home for her in a massive and painful way.

Coming To Terms With Childhood Trauma While Wedding Planning | A Practical Wedding

The process of planning our big queer vintage Hindu wedding is heart wrenching and painful with moments of sheer bliss thrown in. There are two forces running parallel to one another throughout this yearlong planning process. My partner, our community, and I are elated and supportive of this momentous occasion, while the family that raised me is furious and unsupportive. This tumultuous environment has created a very emotional and often unsettling year of wedding planning.

Like many APW readers, my partner and I are queer, but we are also from different countries, religions, and ethnicities. This may sound like a wedding planning disaster with so many cultural, religious, and ethnic differences to navigate, but it has actually been quite the opposite. I am having a ridiculous amount of fun planning this wedding, and we are growing as a couple. We talk in depth about her Hindu religion, family dynamics, our future as a family, and my ever-growing love of all things pin-up and vintage. Every decision is made through discussion, consideration, and love. There were no arguments over wedding colors or outfits. Our neighbors are donating items for our DIY photobooth, a co-worker is growing all the plants for our centerpieces, my boss is paying for the wine at the reception, and a friend is donating her parents’ summer home for our honeymoon. We are surrounded by so much love, it is sometimes hard to take in.

The encouragement my partner and I are experiencing during the wedding planning process stands in sharp contrast to my family dynamic over the past year. Let me give you some background information. I grew up in a Southern Baptist, evangelical Christian, Republican household (yeah, I know, that’s a lot to wrap your head around). Except, what my parents claimed to believe was not in line with how they treated me at home. Although I grew up in a wealthy, suburban household, I was abused and neglected from a very young age. I was frequently left alone with no fresh food in the house, which meant most of my dinners growing up consisted of cereal at the dining room table alone. There’s more to this story, which I will expand on later in this post.

Needless to say, my parents were against my relationship with my partner from day one. In many ways, she never stood a chance—she’s brown, foreign, and Hindu. She would stick out like a sore thumb among the lily white, well-manicured laws of suburban Georgia. They were furious when we got engaged a year ago and continue to argue with me every step of the way. About five months ago, I decided that all the nonsense with my family was too overwhelming and stopped talking to them. For four blissful months, I wedding planned without any rantings and ravings from family members. I was more happy and sane than ever before. Like most things we try to shove under the rug, this state of calm wedding-planning bliss did not last for long.

My beautiful, darling grandmother (one of two extended family members who supported me when I came out years ago) has been steadily declining as her dementia progresses, and it was decided on a whim to place her in assisted living. As a social gerontologist and an advocate for older adults everywhere, I decided to call up the assisted living facility only to discover that it was pretty much HELL for older adults. We’re talking a 60 Minutes undercover special kind of hell.

At this point, my world came crashing down. I realized that my four-month impenetrable wedding planning bubble of bliss was about to burst. I picked up the phone to call my mother and advocate for my darling grandmother. I needed to give my parents a chance to do the right thing and find a nice assisted living facility before I flew out there and hired a damn good attorney to save my darling grandmother.

This is where my story gets really juicy and completely fucked up so don’t stop reading just yet. I failed to mention that in addition to being a loving partner and advocate for older adults, I’m also a survivor of incest. I’ve actually never used that term until right-this-moment. This unfortunate truth is still setting in, and I decided that in addition to advocating for my grandmother I was going to tell my mother about the eleven years of sexual abuse I endured at the hand of my father (i.e. the man she is married to and currently living with).

I mustered up all my courage and told my mother about my childhood sexual abuse one month before my wedding. I wish I could say that she reassured me with loving words and told me everything was going to be alright. Unfortunately, she called me a liar, drama queen, and storyteller. She told me that she will defend my father’s innocence until the day she dies.

To say that I am devastated is a complete understatement. My heart and soul are shattered and torn into a million tiny pieces. At my most vulnerable moment, I was not only shut down but stepped on with sharp, spiky steel-toed boots. The weeks that passed felt like a dream. I literally blacked out from the childhood flashbacks at home and in public. Last night at a fundraiser for Callen Lourde Community Health Center, I fainted and vomited during a reading by the infamous author Kate Bornstein after her story triggered a flashback. As I was sitting in the back of the ambulance on a busy street in the Lower East Side, I realized then and there that this was it. This was the moment where I had to decide whether I was going to stay in touch with my toxic family or make a break.

Today I chose to make a break. I chose happiness. I chose love. I chose my friends, neighbors, partner, and son.

So, here I am—a month from my wedding and in the midst of a psychological and emotional crisis, but I take refuge in the fact that this wedding is the beginning of something beautiful and new. This wedding is my welcome party. This wedding is a celebration of everything that I accomplished despite my horrible childhood. This wedding is about what I built together with my amazing partner and rock star son.

I chose to embrace life now, and my wedding is going to be fucking gorgeous on September twenty-second.

Photo by: My flaming gay Uncle James (the other family member who supported me when I came out) took this photo of me as a kid, which I included because I looked so happy and adorable, but also because I was (and still am) really tough and kick ass! So this photo represents me, makin’ it and finding my own little happiness then and now… despite the chaos at home.

** Comment Policy Note: Due to the extremely difficult and personal subject matter of this post, we request that all comments stay within the realm of emotional safety, either expressing support or sharing your personal reactions or your personal story. This is not a post where we are encouraging debate over ideas in the comment section (though there will be plenty more of those to come). Please help keep each other safe. Thanks, The APW Team ** 

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  • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

    Jenni – your story is one of incredible courage. I am so glad that you have found your partner, and I hope (hope, HOPE!) we get a post of the September celebration. May it be a wonderful experience of health and hope and transformation!

    Also, I hope that your grandmother will be in a better situation soon.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Oh yes! My grandmother is now at a lovely Sunrise assisted living facility thanks to my prying!! YAY!

      • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

        Yay!! And rock on to you for getting her there!

      • Barbra

        My grandmother is at a Sunrise facility too!

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          They are really nice and reliable. She’s in good hands. ;-)

      • Jennie

        Yaaay! You ARE awesome!!! I was on tenterhooks wondering what happened to your grandmother.

        Best wishes to you and your love, and know that you have the support of TONS of strangers across the internet! I cut off my emotionally-abusive grandmother and her sociopathic son in 1999, and it made life SO much better for my mom and I. I wish you the best of luck, too, in your road to recovery. It’s hard when someone you trust does something awful, and I hope that it gets easier for you.

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          Thank you, Jennie. I already feel lighter.

          I’m glad to hear you were able to make a break for your happiness.

  • http://www.myhonestanswer.com/ my honest answer

    What a brave post. I am so sorry your mother reacted that way, and I am so pleased that you have chosen happiness and love instead.

    The story of your grandmother’s living arrangements was left unfinished, but I do hope that she is now in a respected and appropriate facility (and thank goodness you have been there looking out for her).

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much for the love and support.

      My grandmother is going to a really lovely assisted living facility!! I’m so relieved that she’s going to be safe.

      • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

        Oh, good. I was also wondering what happened to her. You are so so brave to tell your story. Sending so much APW love your way. xoxo

  • One More Sara

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Hopefully, not that many of us can literally relate to it, but I think most of us can at the very least take away a “everyone is fighting a hard battle” moral from the story. Everyone we meet has something going on, so this just serves as a very poignant reminder that we always need to be kind. Always.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Yes yes yes. I think that’s a beautiful takeaway. I wanted to share my story in hope that it would resonate with others on some level.

  • Anon for Today

    Having been through my own type of hell with the family I originated from all I can say is keep being brave and surround yourself with the people who do love you and treat you with respect. You deserve that and so much more in your life.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for the kind words. I definitely have lots and lots of people who love me. I’m trying my best to let in the love right now.

  • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com pluis

    I don’t think there is a sensible way to respond, really, as an outsider, to what you have just shared.

    One the one hand I want to send you sympathy and hugs and a basket full of safe, warm, fluffy critters to cushion yourself with against what your family has done to you, both in the past and in their response to your opening up about that past.

    On the other hand, I can really only respectfully stand back and applaud for sounding so eminently wise and sensible, for having the capacity to love, to feel joy and to open up to us about what is happening in your life.

    You are an extraordinary human being.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Ohhhh, yes!!!!! Basket of fluffy critters!!! Eeeeep!!! I am a hugger so I completely accept virtual and in person hugs with no hesitation.

      Thank you for the kind words. It can be very difficult to accept compliments when you were conditioned to not value yourself. I will try to sit with all this love today and let it sink in.

  • Jess

    I’m speechless. All I can say is this: you are *so* brave for making this choice, and for surviving what you did while retaining any kind of humanity. It’s a testament to your strength, resilience, and capacity for love that you are where you are. I’m not so sure I’d be able to forgive humans as a species if I endured anything close to what you had to deal with.

    Sending you and your baby family a whole lot of love and wishes for a happy, healthy, joyful life!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks Jess. Goodness, I really don’t feel brave right now. Mostly terrified. Luckily, I’m surrounded by beautiful, loving, caring human beings who feed me, love me, hug me, and take care of me. It definitely makes life sooooo much easier. ;-)

      • Another Meg

        Thank you for sharing your brave story. And you may not feel brave, but I think it’s when you’re scared and still take that step forward that makes you so. It can be the most difficult thing in the world to understand what you need and take action to get it, especially when it comes to family.
        *Hugs and high fives*

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          Thanks Meg. *high five!!*

      • Jess

        I find that we’re often the bravest when our insides feel like lukewarm Jell-O! It’s a strange dissonance that I struggle with too. Kind of like fake-it-’til-you-make-it, huh? :)

        Surrounding yourself with love, and most importantly, *allowing* yourself to be loved, is one of the best ways to ease the pain of the past.

        *big warm Internet hug*

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          I like that – Jello-O. I feel a lot like Jell-O recently!!! Wobbly and gooey. Maybe that’s what being brave is about – pushing through and keepin’ on despite the Jello-O?!?

  • Laura

    Hi

    I am not sure what to write but I wanted to Thank you for your essay. I wish you, your partner and your new family all the happiness in the world. x

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you, Laura. :)

  • Liz

    So, so sorry, Jenni. I am blown away by your bravery and determination to be happy.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks Liz. *blush*

  • dc-m

    i am also a survivor of incest; i too told my mother that my father had been molesting me for years. she believes me, but continues to live and remain married to my perpetrator. i can tell you this – from the other side – you are more resilient than you know. you have already been through worse than this, and that did not break you. try to remember that. keep surrounding yourself with people who love, believe, and cherish you. they are the most precious thing. and find a good therapist; mine literally saved my life. sending you love and light from my little corner of massachusetts. *hugs*

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much for sharing. Your mother did the right thing by believing you. I’m so sorry you still have to deal with your perpetrator on some level since he still lives with your mother. I really appreciate your words of wisdom right now. I have a wonderful therapist who guided me through this entire process. xoxoxoxo from NY

      • Sophie

        I’m a maybe survivor of incest.

        I’m still in the (many years long) stage where I know something really bad happened, and that I associate it with my father, but I don’t have any concrete memories.

        I’m pre-engaged with wedding likely in the next three years, and the idea of my father being anywhere near all of that makes me cringe.

        Have you found any awesome APW like spaces for survivors of sexual abuse?

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          Thanks so much for sharing, Sophie.

          I was in that maybe stage for a while also. Apparently, it’s quite common with incest survivors. Then, the memories came flooding back all of a sudden when I started therapy. I would highly recommend “The Courage to Heal” if you are interested in hearing stories from other survivors: http://www.amazon.com/The-Courage-Heal-Expanded-Survivors/dp/0060950668

          Your wedding is about creating a space to celebrate the love between you and your partner. I hope that you are able to choose who you want to be there. My partner and I paid for our wedding out-of-pocket so we only invited people who loved and supported us.

          I have not found an online space for survivors of sexual abuse, but I haven’t really looked for one.

          • AM

            There is an online support website for survivors of sexual abuse and incest at the link below. Some of it is quite graphic but the author has added “trigger warnings”. All the best.

            http://faithallen.wordpress.com/

      • SM

        I’m so glad to hear that you have a wonderful therapist that you can talk to! I have worked with survivors for many years, and I hate that so many survivors think that they should be able to ‘get over’ or ‘deal with’ incest/abuse on their own. Personally, I feel very strongly that these sorts of experiences SHOULD NOT be processed alone (for the survivor’s own mental health & safety), and that as much as possible survivors should have someone to sort of hold their hand as they make it through the woods. Just a moment of endorsement here–often agencies that specifically serve survivors use different methods than general therapists, that are more goal-directed and trauma-concious (ex: cognitive processing therapy, trauma-focused CBT). Even if you have a great therapist for other areas of your life, sometimes going to a specialist who uses one of these specific methods can be helpful!

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          Yes, me too!! Therapy therapy therapy! I feel like 1/2 of my life in the past 4 years has been spent in therapy. Hehehehe. I can’t imagine walking through this hell alone. Thank you for the recommendation about a therapist who specializes in this area. An MD friend of mine recommended looking into this also. xo

        • Diane

          As a psychiatrist, gotta give a two thumbs up for the cognitive processing therapy (or CPT) suggestion. It has been studied fairly extensively and has good evidence supporting its efficacy. It’s tough, you have to be brave to do it, but nothing has been shown to work better.

          • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/custom4.html Jenni

            I know my psychologist incorporates CPT into sessions, but she’s doesn’t strictly use it. I’ve read some of the research behind CPT, and it seems to be the best method out there. Hmmm, something to think about. Thanks so much!!!

  • tenya

    I just want to extend a thousand hugs, if wanted. One of the tragedies is that people think that because of movies or whatever media, that whenever someone comes forward about their abuse (and childhood sexual abuse in particular) then their family, friends, etc. will rally around them. It is not true in every case, and it is devastating to get instead of support getting insults, ridicule or disbelief. It really, really is amazingly painful. Even today, hearing about “but I always liked X” or “But I liked when X did this” is painful to me, because I want to respond with “except when they sexually abused me, that was not likeable” but no, let’s not rock the boat and create “drama.” Argh.
    I do want to add a congratulations, and that your wedding day will be fucking gorgeous. Go for it!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Yes yes, I love virtual hugs!!

      Ohhhh, I can’t imagine someone saying positive things about my abuser to me. I hate that our society continues to promote silence around these matters. We’re not creating drama be telling our stories. We’re healing ourselves, seeking refuge, and making paths for others.

      xoxo

    • H

      I’m not going to pretend I understand what you went through (either Tenya or Jenni), but I think that part of the reasons movies only show that about reactions to (childhood sexual) abuse is because rallying around the child is the reaction that most people would want the others around them to take if it happened to them. And by showing it, maybe people will act more like the movies. You know, kinda like setting a virtual world example. So maybe fewer of you will have to go through the same thing of hearing positive things about your abuser or not having your family be supportive because the movies only show positive examples. Not to say you can’t or shouldn’t talk about the real life reactions you got instead.

      Best of luck to both of you! Congrats Jenni! Great job!

      • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

        I guess maybe it’s what we want to believe happens to people who speak the truth – we hope that they receive the love and support they need. There needs to be guidebooks: “what not to say to survivors of sexual abuse” and “how to react when a family members discloses sexual abuse.” The list could go on and on!!

  • Laura

    Your story is incredible and I have a great deal of admiration for standing up for yourself. I wish you all the best with your wedding and hope that your grandmother can be in a better living situation soon!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks, Laura. I hadn’t really thought about it as standing up for myself, but you’re right – I did! I have a really hard time doing that in general so I’m glad you pointed it out. :)

      Yes, my grandmother is going to a really nice assisted living facility now. *pats back*

  • Lauren

    I am blown away by your bravery and how much courage it must have taken to write this post. Thank you for sharing. Love and hugs to your beautiful baby family, and here’s to new beginnings!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much, Lauren. I really don’t feel very brave today, but I will try to take that in. xoxo

      • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

        YOU ARE BRAVE, YOU ARE BRAVE, YOU ARE BRAVE!

  • Sara

    Jenni, your courage is astounding both in the journey you have taken since your abuse and in writing this story and sharing such a vulnerable part of yourself with strangers. I am overwhelmed by your sense of resilience and in the beauty and support that is APW. I am getting married a week before you and will light a candle for you and your partner on your day. It doesn’t sound like you need our love and encouragement, you’re already bathing in it from those you choose to surround yourself with but thank you for sharing this piece of you. You are truly remarkable and beatiful!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks, Sara. I really hope my story resonates with others. I am grateful that APW is a safe space to share painful stories and receive love and support. It’s extraordinary to have such a tight, caring virtual community.

      Sending you love for your wedding! Eeeep! :)

  • http://www.aweddedwife.com Alysia

    Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for being kick ass! Making the decision to break away from ones family of origin can be hard, but this decision will move you towards a happier you. Be proud and stand tall.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Ahhhhh, LOVE LOVE LOVE you, Alysia. I wish we could have a femme coffee date together and wear big, frilly dresses. *sigh( xoxoxoxo

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    Wow. Thank you for your bravery and for sharing. I am so sorry that happened to you.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks for the love, Christina

  • Class of 1980

    As I was reading, I had my fingers crossed that you weren’t going to spend too long beating your head against the wall with your family.

    The physical neglect of your early childhood is the key to who you were dealing with all along. The incest is just over-the-top abuse. For whatever reason, neither of your parents did their jobs as parents and they took no responsibility for your well-being. You certainly are not obligated to put up with their continued emotional abuse just because they are related to you.

    It sounds like you have an extraordinary amount of love and support around you now. I know you won’t let the past keep you from living in the present and reaping the benefits of everything you’ve gained.

    CONGRATULATIONS on that.

    (So what happened with your dear grandmother? The suspense is killing me.)

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      “You certainly are not obligated to put up with their continued emotional abuse just because they are related to you.”

      EXACTLY. No one is entitled to be in your life just because they’re related to you.

      And up thread, the author posted that her grandmother is living in a lovely facility and is doing well.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Oh my, I’m trying really hard not to dwell, but sometimes the past punches me in the face! I try to stay present and focus on all the beautiful, magical things in my life, but sometimes things pop up unexpectedly. In those moments, I try to breathe deeply and remember the shining faces of my partner and son.

      My grandmother is not going to the HELL home for older adults! Yay! She’s going to a lovely assisted living facility, and I am really really happy about it.

      • Class of 1980

        Glad about your grandmother!

        My father was physically and emotionally abusive towards my mom. He was neglectful and derisive to us, his kids. He has Borderline Personality Disorder and never sought help for it.

        People with BPD do not have good relationships with ANYBODY by definition.

        I no longer talk to him because he is that insufferable. The past can’t be changed and of course it pops into my mind often. But, it doesn’t negate my present state of equilibrium and I find his absence enhances my happiness.

        I’ve been where you are to some extent, although your situation was worse.

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          It sounds like you are taking good care of yourself and staying present despite all the childhood abuse. Thank you for sharing. It is very encouraging to hear stories from other survivors who made is through. xoxo

        • Elle

          I understand what it’s like to try and maintain a relationship with a parent who simply won’t change their behaviors, my father is an immature man who still cannot comprehend the damage his addiction and abuse caused, but please don’t rule out those of us with bpd altogether. By definition we may not, but through hard work I have some very stable relationships in my life now :) but I do recall the way we can be at times.

          Love and light to you and Jenni also x

          • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

            Elle – It sounds like you went through hell with your father. And yes yes, it’s so important not to generalize about mental health issues. Every person responds differently. xoxoxo

  • http://cubicalmouse.blogspot.com Stephanie

    I’m sending hugs your way, and I am so happy you are moving past this! I come from an extremely similar background as you, and I spent years in counseling to get past my “daddy issues.” It’s hard. Especially when your parents think they did nothing wrong.

    What happened to your grandmother?? I am hoping you got her into a good senior center!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much for sharing, Stephanie. I’m 4 years into therapy, and I’m sure there will be many years to come. It. Is. Hard. Yes yes yes.

      Grandma is safe!! She’s going to a lovely Sunrise assisted living facility. YAY!

      • http://cubicalmouse.blogspot.com Stephanie

        Yay! I’m glad your grandmother is in a good place!!

  • http://nerdycare.blogspot.com/ SelkieKel

    Your resilience and stalwart determination to embrace the positive and leave such stunningly toxic circumstances in the dust are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Your wedding is going to be incredible and I wish you and your partner years of glorious marital bliss!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much for the love and kind kind words.

  • KB

    Thank you for writing this post. We talk a lot about dealing with frustrating family and friends, but this is an instance where it’s not just a detrimental relationship – you have downright toxic people in your life. It’s so brave that you recognized that and are building a healthy and safe life away from them, and your wedding is such a celebration of that life.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I love APW and all the beautiful stories about how to deal with emotionally absent parents or how to deal with a wedding after a parent dies. I really wanted to share my story with this community and offer another perspective on family and wedding planning. Thank you for the encouragement. I’m really excited about our wedding. :)

  • Holly

    Based on this post, I have to agree with your assessment that you are really tough and kick ass! I’m also getting married on September 22nd, and I’m happy to share this date with someone like you. Best wishes for a day that is full of love and healing for you and your beloved.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      YAY!!!!!!! September 22 is going to be a magical day!!!!!

  • Courtney

    You are a rock star for not only surviving your childhood but building an amazing life, and your wedding WILL kick ass.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Yay – rock star!!! *strums air guitar* :) Thanks for the love, Courtney. I’m so excited for our wedding I want to do a cartwheel right now.

  • Brefiks

    Keeping you and your health and happiness in my heart.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you

  • Lee

    “Today I chose to make a break. I chose happiness. I chose love. I chose my friends, neighbors, partner, and son.”

    Well done. Well-freakin-done!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      *blush* thanks

  • Lauren

    Thank you, so much, for sharing your story. Wishing you and your partner a wonderful, joyous wedding and a marriage that will span many years and will be full of laughter, love, and happiness.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I’m grateful to be part of an online community like APW that is supportive and nurturing. Thank you for the well wishes.

  • Brook

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us and for giving voice to the horrible things that families all too often do to us. You are wonderful now as you were then. I celebrate your choices and hope that you find as much happiness as you once knew pain. <3<3<3

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank YOU, Brook, for sharing your story with me and being an inspiration. *hugs*

  • http://ladlelady.wordpress.com Ania

    What an incredible story of courage. Regardless of our own individual histories, your final note is the most important thing that we all need to keep in mind — to choose love and to embrace life.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Yes, it’s so hard to remember to live in the present. There are so many distractions and pulls in ever direction.

      BTW – love your blog! I just linked to it. Yay to yummy vegan cooking. :)

  • Ambi

    Thank you for sharing your story. It really is very encouraging and inspiring to hear from someone who is taking control of their own happiness. I don’t have family issues that are anything like yours, but just in life in general it is a nice reminder that we all have the power to control our own futures.

    My heart goes out to you. I know very little about it, but I do know that my mother and aunts had a pretty miserable childhood that, I believe, included much of the neglect you described. They are in their sixties now, with grandchildren of their own, and their parents have long since past, but I know that it is still something that sticks with them. I hope that you are getting much love and support and help in making your way through this. I am a huge advocate for counseling and therapy, so please keep that in mind as an option. I cannot imagine going through something like you are going through without it.

    Please keep us posted on your life and your marriage. I am so looking forward to future Wedding Grad posts from you!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I’m so glad that my story resonated with you for life in general. I didn’t really think of it as being inspirational in that way, but I’m happy that is. :)

      Thank you for sharing about your mother and aunts. I imagine that my history will always be with me and a part of me. Although, I hope it plays a much less meaningful role in my life as time passes.

      I have been in therapy for 4 years, and it is transformative.

  • Kerry

    Jenni – you are one strong and amazing woman! Happy thoughts and love will be sent your way now and especially on September 22nd!!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much for the love! I can feel all the virtual hugs today. :)

  • http://babystepsvintage.blogspot.com Paige

    So many people have said it much more eloquently than I, but I believe the general feeling is LOVE!! LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE to you and your lady and your grandmother and your friends.

    Blessed be!
    ~Paige

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much, Paige! BTW – I just clicked to your blog and love it! Vintage hotness!

  • K

    Jenni, it is so inspiring to hear you struggle and move forward. Thank you for sharing!

    I think you are incredibly lucky to have people in your life, your chosen family if you will, who can love an support you when your blood relations may not. My sister-in-law also had a toxic relationship with her mother, who did not attend my brother’s wedding, and it was heartbreaking for those of us who do love and support her. The details you share about your community coming together for your wedding really touched me, becasue I can see how much it means to you. Keep leaning on those people – they are so lucky to have you, too!

    Hugs.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Chosen family saved me. I can’t imagine a world without them. Every kind action from our neighbors, friends, and colleagues touches my heart and makes our wedding possible.

      It sounds like your sister-in-law is lucky to have new family members who love her. :)

  • http://strawberriesinparis.com Elizabeth

    You got this girl. You can do it. You can do it. Congrats on your beautiful new life and bravo for making it through your awful past.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks for the love, Elizabeth.

  • S

    Jenni – Thank you so much for posting thing. You are amazingly brave and I wish I could squeeze your hand as you go through this. My father has spent the last 15 years sticking up for his father, who molested me as a child, and berating me for the way I treated my grandfather until his death. I still sometimes wish I’d been brave enough, and self protective enough, to cut my father out of my wedding. My heart goes out to any child whose parent, like your mother, won’t protect them or stand by them. That betrayal is the hardest part of this for adult me, at this point.

    Thank you for choosing to stand up for yourself and for choosing love. You deserve it and you’re setting the best possible example for your son. I’m thankful that you have so much support right now. (And for your grandmother being in a good place!)

    I can’t seem to break how stilted this sounds without crying at my desk, but know that I’m thinking of you and your baby family. Please update us after the wedding and write a grad post. I really, really want to be able to revel in your joy and love.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I wish I had a full-time hand squeezer with me! My partner’s hand is getting a little red these days. Hehe.

      It pains me to hear your story. Parents should always believe their children and stand by them. It’s not acceptable to silence the people we claim to love the most. *big hugs*

      Wow, I couldn’t agree more that I’m setting the right example for my son. Thank you for re-affirming me in that. This whole process has been difficult for our family, including my son, but he is stronger now than ever before. Of course, he doesn’t know the details at his young age, but he knows my parents don’t accept our little family. He has very firm boundaries and recognizes that it’s not acceptable for family to be mean to one another. I’m so proud!

      I am thrilled my grandmother is safe, and I know I did the right thing by picking up the phone and advocating for her. xoxo

  • Amy

    More love coming your way Jenni! <3 <3 <3

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so happy to hear your dear grandmother is safe and I am so proud that you have severed ties with the awful people in your family.

    Yours and Karen's first wedding post is one I have actually gone back to more than once because the pictures make me so happy. I wish you only the best in your future and encourage you to keep staying strong. You have a vast internet army from all over the world here ready to pounce on any mofo's that mess with you!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks, Amy!!!!!!!!!
      Yes yes, grandmother is safe! YAY!
      Thanks for “having my back!” xoxoxo

  • ANON for this one

    Jenni I am sorry that you are going through all of this torment when you should be able to truly enjoy your wedding planning, but I can relate to your story. I was also a sexual abuse victim from my own biological father and I have not told my mother (they are divorced and it has been implied but never discussed in detail to avoid causing her pain because there was nothing she could do) or my grandmother (who would be devastated or may not believe me similar to your mother). I am tolerant of my father but we really do not have a father-daughter relationship and I am cold to him. But since its a wedding and a secret he is still included, I am still dancing with him (and my step-father separately). He is not walking me down the aisle because we came up with an alternative way to “give me away ” that will also include my mother. This is not the time that you want to deal with painful memories especially when you have survived the trauma and become successful and happy. Many people in similar situations never get beyond the trauma and never get to experience the kind of happiness that each of us has found. Considering all of the other issues that lie between you and your family it sounds like your wedding and your marriage will be better off without them.
    Thank you for talking about this.

    • meg

      Lady,
      Please, please tell me that if you’re not in therapy, you’ll make an appointment with a therapist *today* to talk about this (though it sounds like you are?). I just want to make sure you keep yourself as safe as humanly possible during the wedding process. These issues can continue to echo and have ripple effects for years and years and generations, and I wish for you that your wedding is a source of joy, not of further pain. Your family wasn’t able to keep you safe, but DAMN IT, you deserve to be kept safe.

      xo
      Meg

      • SM

        If you need to get connected to a therapist, please contact your nearest rape crisis center. They can connect you to a specialist who will address your history using evidence based methods specifically developed to process trauma–and they are not just for people who were assaulted as adults or those who have been assaulted recently. At my center, I would say the largest client base is adult survivors of childhood abuse. Also, they often are able to offer 6 months of counseling for free due to funding from the Victims of Crime Act. This link will show you the crisis centers in your area. http://centers.rainn.org/
        Sending you supportive thoughts!!!

        • RS

          I experienced sexual abuse (not incest) as a child, and I tried something similar to this a few years ago (though maybe not through RAINN). Sadly, I had a not-great experience. I was a student in a big, expensive city and paying anything for therapy was out of the question. I found help for free. I was set up with an inexperienced therapist who giggled constantly and put me through what felt like a one-size-fits-all, paint-by-numbers assembly line therapy program of about ten weeks. She was nice enough and I’m sure meant well, but it did nothing for me. It felt like being let down all over again.

          This was a little traumatic for someone whose counselor (if you can call her that), at 12, told her mother not to take her to the doctor after being raped because the doctor would be mandated to report it and the courts probably wouldn’t rule it as rape. That was 13 years ago. I never got help. I’m in a better financial situation than I was a few years ago, but still uninsured (though employed full-time) and paying is out of the question. I’m starting to think that girls like me just don’t get help.

          • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

            It breaks my heart that you had such a horrible experience in therapy! It takes a lot of work to find the *right* therapist, and unfortunately you didn’t have the luxury of “shopping around.”

            OMG! WTF?!?! I am furious at that “counselor” for not protecting you at such a young age. I wish I could swoop down and protect your little girl self. I hope that you will be able to find a good and affordable therapist soon. There are some therapists who work on a sliding scale. Sending BIG love from NY! xoxo

          • SM

            I’m so sorry that you had a bad experience with your counselor. If you do ever try to get help again, what I would say is that you should feel empowered to fight for your rights as a client. Not every client-therapist match is a good fit, and while ideally the therapist should recognize this and transfer you to another professional that works better for you, some don’t either through inexperience (which sounds like this might be the case here) or because they’re too proud to admit it. However, you have the right to say–after the first, third, or even 15th session–“I really appreciate the effort you have put into working with me, but I’m not sure that this is meeting my needs. Is there someone else I can talk to?” The therapist has a professional obligation to transfer you to an equally or more qualified professional without malice. You also have the right to ask what theory or model their therapy is based on–and if they can’t tell you, they probably aren’t using evidence based methods. From how you described the program you went through, it sounds like it was a structured program–and often those are really effective for sexual assault survivors, but not everyone responds to it, and they a) know this, and b) should have systems in place to catch it! Also, frankly, 10 weeks sounds like a VERY abbreviated program. I wish your therapist had realized you didn’t feel you were making progress, but if, in the future, you do seek help again, it might help your next provider if you describe in detail why you didn’t feel like their method didn’t help (so that the new provider can know what to avoid/alter). You may not be able to get further free counseling from that particular agency, but you should be eligible for free services from other agencies or means-tested (ie low cost) services from the original agency, especially if you are uninsured.

            Tl;dr: It’s not that girls like you just don’t get help. It’s that not all girls (or guys) respond the same way to ‘help,’ and it’s the bad of the therapist (and their supervisor) that they weren’t monitoring your response and adapting their services to fit your needs. Girls like you DESERVE help, and I hope that you are able to find it.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Oh my, I am sending so much love, magic, and fairy dust through the universe to wherever you are. You are a strong, beautiful woman, and I’m happy you found the love of your life. The fact that we survived our childhoods and were able to find love in this cruel world is amazing. I am glad you were able to find a way to not walk down the aisle with your father. Can you cut out all the first dances as a way to avoid this? I hate the idea of you being put in a compromising and soul-sucking position on your wedding day.

      Also, I recommended this above, but have you read “The Courage to Heal?” Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Courage-Heal-Expanded-Survivors/dp/0060950668

  • Christal

    You should write a book. It would be a great way to expell all of your trauma and go through the process of forgiving. Moving forward with your new beautiful family :) I can’t wait to read ypur memior ;) have a wonderful wedding!!! Sending white light to you and your REAL “family”. Xo

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I definitely want to start writing down stories from my childhood as a way to heal. Maybe someday I’ll put it all together. Thank you for the encouragement and love. xoxo

  • Someone else today

    I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this, when I saw the warning.

    I was sexually abused by my brother for at least ten years, and maybe earlier. I made the choice years ago that I would not tell my parents, because it would tear my mother apart, but I also made a firm choice to remove him from my life and make a break. I moved thousands of miles away, I haven’t gone to visit my hometown in years (and won’t, maybe ever), and I do not reply to his texts, emails or phone calls. Part of me wonders if he even remembers.

    I worked through my issues a long while ago with the help of a lovely therapist, but as you said in a comment, sometimes the past just punches you in the face. I opted to plan a very small wedding in a different country in order to avoid any potential awkwardness after my mom mentioned my brother would drive up with my parents to come. My partner (who knows that I was abused, but who I never told out loud who was responsible) knew I was horrified at the thought of my brother showing up and without question agreed to move the wedding far away to protect me. I’m glad you have a partner and a community to protect you, too.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really touches my heart to hear from other survivors about how we each live our own truths in different ways. I’m so glad you were able to have a safe wedding with the people you love. It sounds like you have a very loving partner. Yay!

  • L

    Jenni,
    Thank you so much for writing this. I am also a survivor of incest and I have been writing a post off and on for APW about how getting engaged has really shifted things for me. I have had a warm relationship with my Mom since I moved out of the house but I am afraid that is because I have never had the courage to tell her about the abuse. I worry that she will do what your Mom did (except probably more passive aggressively) and then I will lose her. My Dad and I never speak, except about taxes (he’s a financial planner). Anyway, announcing our engagement really put things into a tailspin with my Mom and me. She still doesn’t know about the abuse but she and I had a conversation where I outlined all the other ways my Dad was a terrible father and it hurts that she just sat by and watched. Since then she and I have just spoken once every few weeks and I feel very differently about having her in my life. I was not expecting it at all. I thought maybe getting engaged would bring us closer and instead I am feeling completely removed from my family in an understated sort of way.
    Anyway, although I have not experienced that final, heartbreaking rejection from my Mom, I know what it is like when it all comes up again. The waves of triggers seem never-ending and it feels like you may never make it to the other side and it is shocking because it seemed like the last bout of this was the last time… how could there be more? I know that place and it sounds like everything is magnified exponentially because of the stress of the wedding and the horrific loss you have just experienced. Don’t forget, even though your family has been awful to you as many ways you can count and they have made you feel awful for as long as you can remember, you still just lost them. Even if all it was, was just the last hopeful threads of a childhood fantasy, it all just came crashing down. And to the tiny little girl who looked for any sort of validation and comfort and love, that is incredibly painful. You are right, that picture is perfect. You were and are so strong and so resilient, even if you feel your insides breaking sometimes.
    You two are going to create a strong, welcoming, loving family that has enough space and respect for all it’s family members. And what a gift that will be for the whole world! We need more families like that. In the post that I had written to post on APW, these were the closing lines:

    Even though I haven’t lived at home for almost a decade and during that time I have focused on healing myself and creating a healthy, resilient relationship with my partner, it is only now that I feel I am finally breaking up with them. I thought I could at least take my Mom and brother with me to our new, awesome, safe family. But I can’t. This is just my partner and I, moving forward into something that only we can create and grow.

    • meg

      Send in that post, lady.

      • L

        Now that I know APW really is open to this kind of story, I might just some thoughtful editing and send it in. Thanks for the encouragement!

        • meg

          Of course we’re open to this kind of story, silly!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      *big big big virtual hugs and tears* Pretty please submit a post and share your story. I would love to read the whole thing.

      Telling your mom or not telling your mom is not based on courage. You are courageous!! You are here. You are choosing life and love. You are doing what you need to do for yourself. All of our paths are different, and it may be best for you to never tell her. Or, you may wake up one day and do it on a whim. The important thing is to take care of your heart and soul right now.

      I hate that your mom didn’t defend you as a little girl and continues not to support you. You deserved more.

      The way you describe the triggers is exactly how it feels for me too. I also am a MASTER of disassociation. I can forget an entire conversation right after it happens, completely space out in the middle of Times Square, etc. etc. etc.

      Isn’t it really all about the childhood fantasy of a family that will do the RIGHT thing?!?! It has taken so long to realize that they will NEVER do the right thing, but I don’t have to stick around out to see what happens next. I have my chosen family who love and support me.

      Love the closing lines of the post that you’re submitting. :) xoxoxoxo

      • L

        Sometimes I think it can be hard for people to see from the outside that even though your childhood may have been objectively horrific, there is still a piece of your heart that longs for the fantasy and keeps looking for some little dew drops of validation and remorse from your family. There are times in the past when I would have grasped on to any tiny pinch of compassion and try to spread it like a blanket over the rest of the pain.

        And ahhhh yes, forgetting conversations instantly. That’s how I can tell I was really not ready to talk to someone. I hang up the phone and realize I just have no idea what was said.

        So much love to you. As I am sure a part of you knows, this too shall pass. There will be a time when you can wake up and be able to think about other things and actually swallow every bit of a whole meal without gagging.

        I am sending you so many hugs and warm vibes and smiles. I hope you can feel them…

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          Yessssssssssss, I hear that!!! Saying to myself, “well, she’s really nice to me when we’re out shopping so that’s something.” Taking the smallest incident and hoping this means things are looking up! *sigh*

          I’m looking forward to the days of waking up and not thinking about the abuse. Feeling the love and sending it right back. xoxo

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          The longing for the fantasy what should have been never really goes away. And it’s sad, because the fantasy is how things should have been. Let yourself feel that way if you need to.

          If you don’t have someone yet to talk to about this I can only echo the advice to find someone. Even if you’re not ready for or comfortable with therapy, having a safe outlet to discuss these things is so key to helping yourself heal.

          • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/custom4.html Jenni

            I have been seeing a psychologist for 4 years now, and I am very grateful to have a safe space to process everything. :)

  • http://butnothanks.blogspot.com NB

    Oh honey. Thank you for this piece. Giant, weepy, unrelenting hugs from this corner of the internet, who doesn’t know you, but who thinks you are brave and kickass and wonderful and so, so, deserving of joy all the same.

    I hope you know that the APW community is sending you down the aisle with all the joyful, tearful, exuberant, love and well-wishes that our formidible posse can muster: The kind of love and YAY that is so bust-out-of-its-skin exuberant that there’s a real risk it might break a table dancing or hug you until your clothes are wrinkled and your bouquet is smooshed.

    (And we’re sending all the same to your darling grandmother, because you know what we love here? Community. And love. And because your wonderful grandmother loves you, and you love her: we’re lifting her up into the giant YAY, too).

    You are brave. And inspiring. And we’re so glad you’re here.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for all the support! I can really *feel* the love through my computer. :) I am so thrilled that so many people from all over will be sending me well-wishes on my wedding day. YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!! If only my grandmother knew how many people love her too. *sigh* I suppose I will send her a card telling her how much she is loved! xoxoxo

  • RachelM

    I don’t want to sound like an echo, but I also want to thank you for writing this and tell you that you really are kick ass! Family crap is hard to deal with in general and I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. To be able to work on healing yourself and choose a life that embraces love and positivity is really amazing, because it can be so much easier to hide from things and wallow. My fiance grew up with a narcissistic, verbally, physically abusive father. He has recently cut ties with him, but still struggles with the effects of growing up as he did. Telling your story is brave and it gives me hope. So again, thank you.

    I hope your wedding, and everything to follow, is full of love and beauty :)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much for the love!! Family issues are hard and messy. Period. Regardless of the severity, it cuts us at our core.

      I’m sorry that you and your partner have to deal with the aftermath of his abusive childhood. It can be VERY difficult to be the partner of a survivor. There’s actually a whole book (here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Allies-Healing-Person-Sexually-Abused/dp/0060968834) for partners of survivors of incest that my partner has read and uses, because I can be a HOT MESS!

  • http://heidiaphrodite.com HeidiAphrodite

    I just want you to know that this Christian registered Republican is in tears after reading your post. It makes me so sad when people profess to follow Christ and are so cruel to others, ESPECIALLY to their family. You have had a horrible time of it, and I am glad you have cut out the cancer of your family and have found happiness and peace. May you continue to do so, and may the family you build make this world a better place. I think it will. You are so brave.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for your comment. I have a few dear dear friends who are Christian Republicans, and their love for me is so deep and beautiful. I know that the way my parents treated me is not in line with the teachings in the bible, but unfortunately many still use the bible to defend unjust attitudes and behaviors. *sigh*

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Can we hear more about social gerontology? Does that mean you’re a MD?

    In law school, I did the kind of elder advocacy legal interns can do. I don’t get to practice “elder law” right now, but I’m hoping to help some non-profits with things like conservatorships and powers of attorney for healthcare in the next year or so.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/custom4.html Jenni

      Social gerontology is a multi-disciplinary sub-field that specializes in studying or working with older adults. I have a master’s in gerontology, focusing more on sociological aspects of aging, and I’m currently getting my PhD is social welfare policy and gerontology. A geriatrician is a physician that specializes in aging.

      Elder law is WONDERFUL! I work closely with a few elder law attorneys in NY, and they do incredible things. There is a HUGE need for attorneys specializing in this field, and the need will only grow. This is some serious job security.

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    I don’t know what you’re going through or have gone through in any way, but I appreciate you sharing your story with all of us!!! I think what you have done is immensely awesome.

    “This wedding is a celebration of everything that I accomplished despite my horrible childhood. This wedding is about what I built together with my amazing partner and rock star son.”

    If you ever doubt yourself because of what you’ve experienced, which I hope you don’t, but if you do – you can always know that you have made amazing, wonderful choices despite your horrible past, and that makes you an amazing person. The choice to love. The choice to take care of yourself, and therefore take care of your (chosen) baby family. The choice to hold people accountable for their actions. All wonderful choices.

    Brava!!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I’m so glad that my story resonates with others in the APW community. I was really terrified to share my story, but I’m very glad I did.

      Thank you for the pep talk! :) I will try to remember all the kind words expressed on this post in moments of doubt.

      xoxo

  • Lauren

    Oh Jenni, thank you so much for sharing. I am lifting you up in the light for your wedding, and I am in awe of your courage.

    Plus, I just looked through your ceremony photos, and you are so gosh darn beautiful. You just radiate light. Your partner is stunning too, and the two of you together just knock my socks off!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      *blush* Thanks for the love, Lauren. My partner is so so gorgeous. She really takes my breath away with how she radiates love and light.

  • Abbi

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and experience. You are incredibly brave and strong, and it’s obvious from all of these comments that it means a lot to so many. In some ways, I can relate – coming from a Hindu background myself, and having a partner who grew up in a white, neglectful, evangelical conservative home. Your story resonates and it means more than you know to see it reflected on my screen. Thank you.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Hi Abbi, Thank you so much for commenting. Wow! We’ve never met a couple with the same backgrounds as us. There is so much I could say about the dynamics between my partner and I coming from such drastically different religions, countries, and cultures. She sees the world in a completely different way, and it is healing and affirming to me and my son. We have been meeting with the pundit at the Hindu temple where we are getting married, and he has showed us more kindness then I thought possible (coming from a religious leader). Although I’m not religious, hearing him say how he accepts us, supports us, and all that matters is that we do what is right for *our* souls was transformative. My partner came from such a beautiful, supportive, large family, and they have been so kind to me despite not understanding our relationship. I could go on and on. Sending so much love to you and your partner. I am really grateful that you shared your story, and it’s so nice to know that you and your partner exist! xoxoxoxo

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    Sometimes when I hear about tragedy, I am tempted to feel hatred toward people. Then I read 104 supportive comments from strangers and a million exactlies and my love for humans is completely revived.

    Thanks for your courage. And thanks, APW, for never failing to showcase humanity on the interwebs.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Spot on. Community is healing, virtual or in person.

  • ANON FOR THIS POST TODAY

    Jenni, thank you for writing about this. Having gone through the same thing, my heart goes out to you. It is amazing how planning on getting married can really bring the good, the bad and the ugly out into the open, and sort of forces us to choose what’s really right for us. For me, it was a lot about what I did NOT want my own family to be like.

    I think it’s really important for friends of survivors to know how common it is for families to reject the victim. It happened to me, too, and it was like getting punched in the gut every day for a while. I had to make choices about who to cut out of my life. In my case, it came out years later (after they all told me how crazy/angry/dramatic I was) that they had all been abused too, and were just unable to face it when I started talking about it. It’s horribly common. Denial is so powerful.

    They have apologized to me, but of course that rift is difficult to repair. Life is long and complex, and forgiveness is important. I’m somewhere on that path.

    The plus side? When I broke away from my family, I actually became a great person! I formed my own morals and values, and learned about awesome things like boundaries and respect for myself and others. I also chased and accomplished my dreams! The entire time, right up until they admitted being abused themselves, my family never understood or supported my “new behavior”, and I was made to feel like a black sheep for basically acting like a sane, responsible adult for the first time in my life.

    I’m saying all this, Jenni, in the hopes that you might get a little strength and support from hearing about my own experience. Not that it’s the same, but you know what I mean. There will be many more ugly moments, but now you’re standing on your own ground! Stick to your guns, listen to your gut, and lean on that wonderful partner of yours! Best of luck to you in your new life!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for sharing your powerful story. For some of us, abuse is the rotten gift we receive through many generations. Both of my parents were physically abused growing up although they never really talked about it in detail.

      DENIAL. Yes yes yes. I know that sneaky bastard is playing a huge role in my mother’s disbelief. While I have moments where I want to believe that she will break through, I know better. My family’s whole life is a facade covered with denial. It’s all a show, and I don’t have a role anymore. My life isn’t pretty or clean enough, and it never will be.

      I love that you became a great person after breaking away! Hehehe. I look forward to learning how to set boundaries (something I’m truly horrible at). I love that you accomplished your dreams!! So beautiful. <3 <3 <3

  • Zen

    Thank you for this post. Your legal ceremony is one of my favourite weddings out of all the ones I’ve seen EVER — I knew which one it was when I read the first sentence of this post. :) It’s hard to imagine how your big-party wedding could be better, but I hope it is!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      *blush* Thanks so much! I’m soooo excited about our big queer wedding! Eeeep!! It’s going to be completely different than our legal ceremony but equally magical!

  • Lydia

    I am going to echo the many, many voices here in praise of your amazing bravery. I just want to send you an abundance of love and my sincere thanks for your story. I have my own hurts from my childhood that I find coming to the surface more and more now that I am starting my own baby family… Although my issue is of a different nature, I found that hearing your story made me feel braver about dealing with my own. So thank you for that. Thank goodness for safe spaces like APW, right?

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Hi Lydia, I’m glad to hear that my story resonated with you. Yes yes yes, thank goodness for APW community. Sending love. xoxo

  • Heather

    Jenni, I wish you all the best for your wedding and the new beginning it creates for you are your partner. You are such a strong and beautiful person.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you, Heather. :)

  • Kathryn

    Good for you. GOOD for you. I can’t say that enough.

    (P.S. I used to be a patient at Callen Lourde — LOVE that place.)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      YAY Callen Lourde!!!!! Such an awesome place with so many good people connected to it. I am so grateful that my public black out happened at a Callen Lourde event where I was surrounded by caring physicians.

  • Theodora

    Oh, my, Jenni! Many hugs and good thoughts for you! I’m also very happy to hear your grandmother is now in a much better facility.

    I’m sending good healing thoughts your way. While breaking with one’s parents is very difficult (and my situation was nothing like yours, just substance abuse by one of my parents), healing *does* come with some distance.

    Wishing you, your partner, and son a lovely life!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for sharing, Theodora. It’s always reassuring to hear from those who are on the other side. I’m looking forward to being a few years removed from these moments.

      In the meantime, I’m soaking up every moment with my little family. xoxo

  • KW

    Your post, and then your comments here show your strength in the face of your personal history. My heart wishes deeply that your relationship with your mother can heal and that she will someday believe you, but I am happy you have a partner and community who support you and love you right now.

    BTW, I missed your wordless wedding post. You and she look so happy! I hope we get to see a post about the Hindu wedding here as well.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      It’s a dangerous path for me to go down by holding onto hope for my mother. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of disbelief.

      When I’m with my partner and son, I am blissfully happy. I am such a lucky lady to have them!

  • Emily

    Such a beautiful post. It is truly amazing and beautiful to see how awesome and strong of a person can emerge out of such a horrifying situation. I can’t imagine not having the support of my family, and I am so sorry yours could not muster up the courage to love you like you deserve to be loved. Luckily, it sounds like you have a rocking new family that you are starting which will be full of all that much love and more. Have an absolutely amazing wedding day! I can’t wait for the graduate post!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks for the love, Emily. I’m so happy you have a supportive family. I hope my partner and I can be *that* kind of family for our son. :)

  • http://www.acastoftwo.com Leah McGregor

    Wow, this is an incredible story, and had me quite choked up with admiration for you and the strength you have. You are brave and honest, and I love the fact that you are seeing your wedding as the start of something new and super special. I am sure there will be tough moments on your wedding day, but you grab onto that love you are surrounded with, as that is what is real, and what will help you to heal.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks, Leah. :) I’m sure there will be hard moments on my wedding day, but I will be surrounded by so much love. Also, the APW community will be sending me love from all over!!!! YAY!

  • Anon

    You are awesome. Thank you for sharing. Stay with your integrity and honor your love and happiness. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Honoring myself is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’m trying.

  • QCaz

    Jenni. Thank you.

    My brother abused me for about 8 or 10 years when I was a kid. I have kept it a secret until now. I have even protected him, stood up for him and been seen by the whole family as best mates with him. I only just recently realised, that my entire lifes relationship with him has been a lie. It has been a carefully manipulated thing, all from his side and has been an extremely unhealthy influence on me.

    I am also planning my wedding (for april) and while the issue of having him there has come up with my partner (who knows everything except the actual details of what my brother did to me) I have been the one saying “no, dont make waves. He’s still family. He should be there” etc etc

    Until I got pregnant. Now, to protect my child I have finally decided to come forward. I also think it is the best decision I have ever made for myself. I have recently told my Dad, whom I have wonderful support from. I am currently working up the guts to tell my Mum.. but my brother is her ‘golden child’ so I dont think that will go so well. I need to let her know though, as I plan to report him to the police before the baby is born (4 weeks away). I would rather she hears it from me, than gets a shock when they come and start asking her questions.

    Even though this is the hardest decision I have ever made. And it is a very hard thing to talk about & bring into the open – I know deep down it is the RIGHT thing. Finally. For me, my baby, my partner and even my family who will for once know the truth..

    So I just wanted to say, that even though it is heartbreaking that your Mum doesnt support you. And that you have had to cut yourself off from your family.. I think you are extremly brave, and your rock star son will grow up to know that no matter how much it hurts – you should always stand up for yourself, and what you beleive in. And that your an amazing person for being able to write & then post such a personal journey.

    I just know that you will never look back on this time and feel like you have made a mistake. You will probably always remember this for the time you FINALLY got what you deserved – a bit of self respect and a whole lot of confidence. Even if it feels like bad timing with your wedding, its just possible that it is PERFECT timing, so your very best self without painful baggage is heading into the next chapter of your life. To create the best chapter of it?

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Incest is so complicated because we simultaneously love and hate our abusers at times.

      Congratulations on getting engaged and pregnant!!! YAY!!

      I’m so glad your father gave you the support and validation you deserve. Good for you for going to the police. Wow, you are really beautiful and strong.

      I am trying to teach my son to stand up for himself – something I never learned growing up. I’m slowly building up my own self-confidence and strength. Learning boundaries is so difficult when you never were shown how to set them.

      Thank you for the words of encouragement. Yes yes, you are so right. Maybe this is the perfect timing for me. I’m stepping into this phase of my life open and free in a way I never thought possible.

      xo

  • Joanna

    Jenni, I wish you and your partner all the best – I hope you write another post after your wedding ceremony to share how lovely it was! I also wish the best to your grandmother and hope that she has found a safe place to live. Although everything that’s happened to you has been incredibly difficult, you’ve found the love and support you need and you know that life is still beautiful, so to echo another poster: “Good for you.”

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much. My grandmother is safe and doing well! She’s going to a lovely assisted living facility, and I am thrilled.

  • Incest Survivor

    You are a strong beautiful woman. While we may not see eye-to-eye on everything, I support you 100% in your fight for happiness. They say that blood is thicker than water. Sometimes “they” know nothing at all. I feel your pain as I had a similar childhood. I battle every day to overcome what it has done to me. I learned to talk more freely about what happened and I found it comforting. Rock on sister!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Talking and sharing about my childhood is giving me the healing I need right now. I thought telling my mother would be healing, but it ripped me apart. Finding love and validation from friends, chosen family, and internet supporters is exactly what I needed.

  • Miss Brewster

    Good for you! 6 months ago I severed all contact with my entire family because they still welcome my brother (who held me captive, tortured and sexually assaulted me) into their home. They wouldn’t invite some strange man off the street that raped me into their home, because that would be “cruel and insane” but they’ll invite him.

    I’ve discussed this with my parents at length, and I explained I’m more upset by their response to embrace him still. The response is “I love you both”. Yeah, well that love isn’t enough for me. I deserve more, and better. My step father also sexually abused me, and when I told my mother (as so very often happens) she denied it, and chose him over me.

    Cutting them out of my life has proven to be painful. It’s lonely but I think it’s worth it. However I still can’t get over the fact that it seems like I’m being the one punished when I’ve done nothing wrong. So, if you’re having these feelings, I just wanted to let you know that I get it.

    Stay surrounded in love~ PS- I also as of today changed my last name and my middle (named after my a-hole father) because I want no connection with my awful family.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for sharing your story and GOOD FOR YOU TOO! I wish we could sit, drink tea, cry, and swap stories together.

      You deserve so so much more than this, and I am so proud of you.

      Yes yes, I feel sometimes like I did something wrong when I know that’s not true. How is it that people can twist the truth so much?!?!?

      I love that you changed your name. *fist pump*

  • redfrizzz

    you are brave. you are awesome. you are the embodiment of strength, love, and all that is good and right. We will all be celebrating your day with you, and holding you in our hearts.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you so much for the love. I can’t wait for September 22, and I love knowing that so many people from all over will be supporting me.

  • hilary

    i’m a little late on this post but just wanted to put it out there that it breaks my heart you have been hurt in so many ways! i hope that in your new life you get love pouring from those around you! it sounds like your partner is amazing and i am so happy you found your match. i wish you peace and comfort in your new future!

  • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

    Hi Hilary, Thanks for the support. I have so so so many people who love and support me. I know that great things are ahead.

  • Cynthia

    Jenni –

    THANK YOU, a million times, THANK YOU for writing this and sending it out into the Universe for all of those who need to heal.

    This – This wedding is my welcome party – made my day. Hope it was a transformational as you deserved it to be.

    Hugs!