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  • Writer's pictureRaveena Kay

What REALLY happens after a South Asian Wedding that people don't tell you

My wedding week was mostly amazing and incredibly special. I loved my home events that were filled with warmth and people who matter to me. I laughed, I cried, I danced, and I took every moment in. I didn’t let the fact that it was going to rain and tornado phase me, I was marrying the love of my life and that’s all that mattered. That being said, after the wedding week was over I had a lot to process and you probably will too. My therapist told me, after weddings and funerals a lot of stress and emotions arise that were originally masked, which is what I’m here to warn my fellow South Asian brides.

During your wedding week, don’t let family or friend drama affect you. Surround yourself with positive people even if that means you cannot hang out with your parents at that moment. See, my mom was incredibly stressed and anxious, she wasn’t sleeping, so she wasn’t her best self. There was a lot going on for her. I needed to let her have her space even though I longed for a positive moment with her. There were many positive memories, but I knew she was faking her smiles and deep down was also thinking “it wasn’t supposed to be this way”.

My dad had his other battles that he had to face. He came 30 minutes before my mehndi event and started yelling at people to move the cars. He took my boy cousins in the middle of my reception to show off a condo he owns. He didn’t really help with wedding planning and would tell people who put countless hours and effort to “relax”. Tip for men/people, NEVER tell a woman to relax. Instead, ask “how can I help, what can I do, do you want to vent to me, and I’m here for you’. THAT’S what people want to hear, they want to be validated in their stress. Men don’t understand that these events and tiny things MATTER to women. Even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal for men (and most likely they’re not stressed because they haven’t done much towards wedding planning), validating your significant other’s emotions is the most important lesson you can learn throughout this whole article.

The other thing I didn’t realize after my wedding was over, was that we overlooked the struggles my little sister was going through because we were so focused on planning my wedding. I sincerely apologize to my little sister for not inquiring more about her struggles. The whole family honestly masked their problems with each other because we distracted ourselves with wedding planning, and fooled ourselves to think that we are now a “functional” family.

Since I thought that we were now a “functional” family, I didn’t think there would be drama when wedding week came and boy was I wrong. I had a few small expectations of my parents and they were not met, so I was incredibly disappointed. I wanted my parents to say something positive towards me at least once in the five days I saw them that week and nothing was said. Just “You look beautiful” and “I love you”. The sad and honest truth was that I didn’t feel loved. I knew and still know they love me because after all they paid for everything, yet to me it felt like they were buying my love. They fought with each other right before I was meant to walk down the aisle; my dad spoke nicely about my mom during his speech but failed to talk about his daughter; my mom looked exhausted and unhappy any time I turned to glance at her. It hit me the next day, my family hasn’t changed and they probably will never change. The day after the wedding a lot of tension was brought up with my parents, me and my siblings. I won’t go into it, but basically there was a big fight between my parents and I that showed that my parents have a lot of growing up to do. I left to take a walk and process everything, and as I walked back to my home, I bawled in a way I have never bawled before. I was sobbing, I couldn’t stop, I didn’t know what was wrong with me because usually I can turn my emotions on and off. (Being able to turn your emotions on/off was a defense mechanism I learned at an early age that for some reason I couldn’t do at that moment). I felt so much hurt and pain which was something I have tried for 25 years not to feel. This feeling felt familiar, I was triggered, this is how I felt as a child, unlovable and problematic. However, rather than being a child who had to suffer on her own in her bedroom, this time I had my rock- my husband. I called him bawling and told him I couldn’t go in the house. He consoled me for an hour and half, letting me vent, letting me feel my pain and hurt towards my parents. He allowed me to process that “it wasn’t supposed to be this way”.

See, I could handle being rained on, a tornado potentially coming, a covid pandemic ruining my wedding, being sick during my wedding week, vendors coming late. What I couldn’t handle was the fact that I felt like my parents weren’t emotionally supportive during my wedding week. My husband’s family was able to give the emotional support I needed, but my own parents could not.

I cried for days and honestly didn’t know what was wrong with me. I called my therapist and made an appointment 4 days after the chaotic fight my parents had. She validated my experiences and said, “you’ve finally released your inner child”.

See, I didn’t want to believe it for years, but my parents were and continue to be emotionally abusive towards me. I want to reiterate that this doesn’t mean they aren’t good parents. They’ve provided financially and they did the best they could; we’ve had some great moments together; however, their trauma was projected onto me. I was the scapegoat of the family, I was blamed for the dysfunction in the family. I felt guilt and shame for thinking that my parents weren’t what I needed and never could express it because I feared that they wouldn’t love me or disown me. I felt their love was conditional and that money was a way of controlling me. I wanted and continue to want them to seek a therapist so that our family can heal, so I gave an ultimatum-- if you don’t see a therapist, I can no longer enable this toxic cycle.

They may or may not see a therapist, and I may or may not continue a relationship with them. It’s definitely up in the air at the moment. I have laid out all of my feelings and that I want growth and change from them. I know that I am the one breaking generational trauma, and it’s tough but so freeing. I have control of my own life now, and they can either grow and be a part of it, or continue to be toxic towards each other and their children which is going to push us all further away.

The best part of all of this though is that I feel free. I can now focus on growing the family I want/feel my kids deserve with Michael. I can choose when to talk and build a relationship with my parents. I can tell my story to other Indian American young adults and adults so that they don’t feel like their experience is isolating. The best advice I can give you is to seek a therapist and break the generational trauma that has occurred in Indian culture. It’s hard work, however, once you release your inner child and get to the conclusion that your family shows love in a different way-- even if it’s not the way you feel loved-- that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They just love you a little bit differently.

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