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Mystery anxiety over brother's wedding

| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 8:57 p.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My older brother and only sibling is getting married in 15 days, and I'm getting more and more anxious the closer it gets. I can't seem to find a concrete reason for my nerves. I've known my soon-to-be sister-in-law since I was 14 (I'm 24 now). I'm not a bridesmaid, but am doing a reading for the ceremony. Our respective families get along. I have my dress, shoes, flights and everything set for it. It's the first major wedding on our parents' sides in more than 20 years, so I think I would be excited. Do you have any suggestions?

­— Nerves

Dress, shoes, flights, even liking the bride — you need to think deeper than that.

Milestones, whether they're ours or somebody else's, can jog loose some feelings we didn't know were there or just haven't wanted to face. Day-to-day life can be ... I won't say numbing, but it can lull you into a state where you use your consciousness mostly for minor, “What's next?” decisions, like what to wear or have for lunch or watch on TV. Especially if you're not entirely mindful of or happy with the routine you're in, a milestone can be the loud knock on the door you weren't expecting.

Can't say that's the case with you, but it's worth considering as the source of your mystery anxiety, if only to rule it out.

I assume you would have said something if public speaking unnerved you, but it is a common source of existential dread.

Re: Sibling's Wedding:

My oldest brother is a decade older than I am. I cried at his wedding, I cried when he announced his impending first child. It was a combination of realizing everything in our family dynamic was about to change irrevocably. Even though he'd been with his now-wife for a while, they were becoming a separate family that would take priority. It took some time to process.

I have my own family and kid now, and wouldn't change that for anything, but I still look back fondly on the time when we were all adults, but still the primary family group, since until I was in my 20s that was the only family I had known.

— Sib

Re: Wedding:

I, too, was anxious about my brother's wedding. I liked my future sister-in-law, the wedding logistics were easy, I was glad he found a partner, they were good together. It took me a while to figure that I just didn't like that he was getting married because it was changing the family dynamics. My family is close and there was going to be a NEW PERSON. We weren't kids anymore.

That was 30 years ago and now I'm thrilled she is part of the family. My advice is, since you know intellectually that it's good, fake it till you make it.

— Anxious

Re: Mystery wedding nerves:

If she's a regular Hax reader, she knows that weddings often bring misery, pain and chaos. I don't blame her for being nervous.

— Anonymous

We have a winner. Thanks, everybody.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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