Adapted from a recent online discussion.
As wedding excitement builds, twin sister has sad feelings, too
Va.: So my beloved twin sister is getting married soon. I'm happy for her, but extremely sad for me. I plan to put on a happy face during these last few weeks of wedding planning, and of course at the big event. But here's my question: Do you think I should discuss my feelings with her? I'm used to being able to tell her anything: If I'm feeling irrationally bad about breaking up with a boyfriend, if I had a bad day at work, or any of the other major and minor things that come up throughout life. What do you say? Just let it be, or talk to her?
Carolyn: Talk to her! Make it clear this isn't about begrudging her happiness — instead it's just about your fear of the unknown. Explain that you're used to being able to tell her everything, and that you're not sure how that's going to work once she's married. It'll really help, I think, if you can say that you know things will change and you're okay with that, you're just jumpy about how much.
One caveat: You don't want to make your problem into her problem just as her wedding preparations start to pile up — but you do want her to know that if your smile isn't on straight, it's not something serious, like hating her fiance or something. It's just about missing her in advance. If you can go into this with the sense that you'll deal with any changes in your relationship together, your happy face will be a lot more real.
Anonymous: Re: Twin sister: That's still making Bride's wedding all about Sis. It's not; it's about the engaged couple.
Carolyn: It's not "all" about them, either. It's about being real people with real and complex feelings, and remaining close through a major transition.
I categorically reject the whole premise of going on a multiweek fake-it spree just to preserve the facade of one overblown day. If the relationships with the people closest to her aren't right, then "her day" (gag) won't be right. Two people who are very close should be encouraged to stand by each other through this big change in both of their lives — and that means they share what they're feeling. They can both avoid the appearance of making things all about themselves by being interested in each other, not by biting their lips and pretending they don't have feelings.
Anonymous 2: Re: Twin sister: I think it will also help if you liken it to high school graduation. Graduation is a good thing, a natural part of growing, something to be celebrated. It's also a time of loss: of childhood, of childhood friends or at least the chance to see them every day. Just because you are sad about the loss doesn't mean you don't want to graduate.
You may be surprised — your sister might have some of the same feelings. It's natural, if you think about it. Any major life change — even an exciting, happy one — involves losing something.
Carolyn: So much . . . fuller, thank you. And saner: I believe a lot of wedding horror stories would be pre-empted if people just dealt with their mixed feelings, instead of professing joy while acting out their distress.