Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m in a bit of a mess, which is not my fault but stands to destroy my whole wedding.
There is a lot of background and I’ll give the short version. It all revolves around a girl I know called “Gwen.” I recently discovered Gwen has been telling people she doesn’t really think I’m autistic. I get that a lot from strangers, but it hurt to hear it coming from someone who I thought was my friend. I don’t know if Gwen thinks I’m faking my disability or if she thinks I am just too stupid to realize I’m not autistic. I first heard about the possibility I had autism in a mental health professional’s office, and I had three professional opinions leading to my diagnosis. Gwen has decided I’m not autistic because once we were at a restaurant and I asked if she was upset. At the time, she told me she wasn’t upset. But now she thinks this is proof I’m neurotypical. I have a great amount of difficulty reading facial expression, and I have about a 20% accuracy at it which indicates some pretty serious deficits. Before I found out she used this as an excuse to “undiagnose” me I had thought of this incident as another example of my poor expression-reading.
And it’s ironic, given that many of our friends don’t believe Gwen actually has a disability. She has OCD that she says prevents her from working, and I have no reason to disbelieve her. I defended her whenever people suggested she was making excuses, which makes it especially hurtful that she is saying the same thing about me. She does a lot of things that I feel are irresponsible, like spending all of her money on frivolous things and then whining to our poorer friends about being broke, or refusing to take any college classes except for choir. She thinks she’s going to be a singer although she’s not willing to put any effort into it outside of class, and she’s on academic probation because she drops all of her classes that aren’t fun. My fiancé, “Patrick,” says that Gwen is majoring in “hanging out with friends.” She’s on disability but she makes her father pay $200 every month for her hair. She lives with her fiancé in her grandmother’s basement and has no motivation to finish school, get a job, move out, or do anything to advance herself. Despite all her problems she can be very nice sometimes and I always tried to be friends with her.
She’s also a source of a lot of strife in our group, where everyone gets along with each other and the only person who really has a problem with anyone else is Gwen. She’s very religious and has announced that one of the Christian men in our group of friends is not really a Christian. Gwen was once banned from coming to our usual hangout place for complaining about interracial couples in the group. Her racism and religious discrimination is so bad that she is angry at my friend “Nina”, who is a black pagan in a relationship with a white man, and refuses to let her come into her house because Nina uses the phrase “Oh, my gods!” instead of “Oh, my God!” Gwen insists that this is offensive. I was told that she decided to stop hanging around Nina’s boyfriend when he started dating Nina.
Most of our friends play role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu, but we have to censor ourselves with Gwen is around. She has severe demonophobia so bad that hearing the word will make her have a panic attack. We occasionally accidentally trigger her, just by mentioning a show that features demons without discussing the content, or by using the word “possessed” in a context that doesn’t refer to demonic possession. Gwen once refused to come over to my house unless I turned all the books on my bookshelf around so she couldn’t see the word “demon” on any of the spines. I understand it’s a genuine problem but we’re going crazy trying not to piss her off, because she made her fiancé, “Tim,” stop hanging out with “Steve” when he accidentally mentioned ghosts around her. To her, this is never an accident. It is always done on purpose. She won’t seek help for it because “good Christians don’t read about those things.” She doesn’t decide to stay away when we’re playing D&D or watching movies she may have issues with, which creates bigger problems.
The problems have reached a head. NO ONE in our group wants to hang out with her anymore, even the people who were fighting the hardest for people to accept her (“Lola” and her boyfriend, “Milton”), because she’s causing problems and being a brat. To make things more complicated, Gwen’s fiancé and my fiancé are brothers. At first I was happy, but lately she’s been very annoying about the weddings. Patrick earns a lot of money and we’re spending what we could save up by the wedding date, about $12,000. Gwen annoyed her parents until they took out a $25,000 loan for her wedding, which she feels she’s entitled to because her parents ruined her life by divorcing. She kicked Lola out of her wedding because Lola doesn’t like to dance. Lola was relieved because the requests Gwen makes of her bridesmaids are ridiculous. Lately Gwen has taken to telling me my wedding will be awful because I don’t boss my bridesmaids around, I’m spending under the average cost of a wedding, and I don’t have a wedding planner. I told her I couldn’t afford the latter, and she smiled and said in a snotty voice, “Well, I don’t have to pay for mine.” Gwen is, by the way, one of my bridesmaids. So are Lola and Nina.
Lola was completely fed up with Gwen, and when Gwen complained about being broke Lola told her to stop spending $200 to dye her hair every month. Gwen was angry at Lola for calling her out. Nina’s boyfriend got into a fight with Gwen when she said she didn’t understand why every person didn’t believe in Jesus. Then Gwen posted a status on Facebook complaining about how liberals call Republicans racist for not liking Obama. Lola commented on the status, pointing out that the Tea Party has had a lot of racism-related scandals, and then she pointed out that Gwen complains about Obama because “he only got elected because he’s black” and says that his wife “looks like a gorilla.” Gwen deleted the comments and had Tim complain about it to Milton while she unfriended Lola. Then Gwen contacted me and asked if she and I could go for bridesmaids dresses without the others, because Lola was “bullying” her and she doesn’t want to see her. (Lola has, by the way, apologized to me, but I think something like this would have happened eventually anyway. She is willing to be civil to Gwen for my sake and didn’t intend for Gwen to get this upset. I have never known Lola to start fights or create drama, and I’ve known her for almost ten years. She’s normally passive but she just can’t take any more of the bullshit.)
I’m okay with making two trips for dresses, but I’m worried about the fact that Gwen can’t get along with my other bridesmaids long enough to do something like this. It has bad implications for how well the wedding will go. She’s also told other people that she doesn’t want to be in my wedding at all and that she’s angry Patrick asked Steve to be his best man instead of Tim. That’s not really any of her business, but Patrick has three brothers and Steve is his best friends. Tim has also not asked Patrick to be his best man. At this point I don’t want Gwen in the wedding either, but I’m worried that she’ll wind up being in it anyway because we are both being polite. To my face she always says she’s excited about my wedding. Our friends are perfectly fine with me throwing her out of the wedding at this point since she’s causing drama and I’m trying to prevent drama, but for one thing that makes me feel like a bridezilla, and I also don’t know how my Patrick and Tim’s family would take it. I want to make sure they know I’m not trying to cause drama, and I know Gwen will badmouth me to them. I want advice on how to resolve this issue, because even though Gwen is clearly causing a lot of problems I feel like things might only get worse if I tell her I’m cutting down on the number of bridesmaids.
Not into Drama
Dear Not Into Drama:
I have no magic fairy dust to make Gwen stop being such a jerk. By choosing to keep interacting with Gwen, you are choosing to subject yourself to her jerkiness. Kick her out of your wedding and out of your life. Stop inviting her to play your demonic role-playing games. Just imagine a future where you never talk to her again, and then make that future happen.
Oh, you’re marrying brothers? (That’s weird. Why is your fiance’s brother marrying that total asshole? Seriously. Why would he do that?) So you’ll run into her at family stuff. So at family stuff you say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Thanksgiving!” and then you spend most of your time in a different room. I’m sure she’ll follow you and make a stink and try to start some shit, so you look at her while she’s saying the stuff and when she pauses for breath you say “Are you done now? Ok then.” and you go back to what you were doing.
If other people ask “But why did you kick Gwen out of your wedding? Why aren’t you talking to Gwen?” say “Because she was acting like a huge jerk and I got tired of it.”
Give her an African Violet with a note that says “I find our friendship to be soulsucking and exhausting, so let’s call the whole thing off. Good luck in your future endeavors.” You’re going to tell me that it’s not that simple, but seriously, it can be that simple if you want it to be. She has no power except the power you give her.
That pretty much covers it. It is absolutely your choice to not be friends with her anymore. If you choose to keep interacting with her, you are choosing to live in her bizarre world and act in her little drama society.