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How I Owned Up to My Last Mental Facepalm

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Benjamin Loo via Getty Images
Benjamin Loo via Getty Images

My sister got married this week, and I think I may owe her an apology of sorts.

For the last month (or two or three) leading up to it, my attitude kinda sucked. I felt she was being unreasonable in some of her expectations, and I'm gonna be honest, I resented having to spend money that I really didn't have on something I would never use or wear again. It was all a bit too "over the top" for me. Things hit a boiling point, and words were said followed by frantic apologies. We got it out of our system the way we always do, and then we were fine.

About two days before the wedding I had her on the phone hysterically crying about pretty much anything you can think of.

She hadn't had a good human dose of sleep in weeks and she had worn herself ragged.

She was stressed about the last-minute stuff and money and weight loss and dress fittings and the bags under her eyes and the man she had seen on the side of the road sobbing with a dead cat in his arms. Apparently she believed that on top of everything else she was trying to do, she was also obligated to bring animals back to life.

I told her she needed to calm down, that she needed to put some cucumbers on her face and call out from work. Which was then followed by a million and one reasons why she absolutely COULD NOT do that.

Not knowing what else to do and feeling the need to give her a reality check, I decided to ask her a question on the condition that she wouldn't be offended by it.

I asked her if there was even the slightest possibility that she was maybe-kinda -sorta looking at this wedding as some sort of extension of herself. That she was banking her self-worth on the success of this party. She replied with a very matter-of-fact: "Yes, to an extent I think that's fair to say."

At the time, her answer made me feel sorry for her. Here she was putting herself through all this physical and mental turmoil because she believed everything about who she was was on the line. At least that's how I took it. However, it was my brother-in-law's impromptu speech during the reception that caused me to rethink things. I realized I had it all wrong.

At one point he started talking about the importance of family, and he said "this party is for all of you." And then the light bulb went off, and I gave myself a mental facepalm.

My sister may have said she was worried about what the rest of the family would think about her based on how the wedding turned out, but I don't think she said it the way she meant it.

I realized they wanted this wedding to be as much about their families as it was about them.

It was their tribute and thank you to all of us. To parents who did the best they could with what they had. To aunts and uncles, and grandparents whose unbroken marriages served as reminders of what true love looked like, whose open doors taught us all what it meant to be good and hospitable.

To cousins and siblings who were the first friends we'd ever known.

The more recent years had been hard on all of us and I think above all else they wanted to give us a break in the clouds. They wanted to give us something to celebrate.

And they nailed it.

As I've been going through the photos I can see it now too. Just looking at all the genuinely happy faces, I know it was a day we all needed. It wasn't just my sister and her husband at their wedding: It was my sister and now brother bringing us all in to remind us to smile, to let loose and enjoy each other the way we do best, with lots of laughing, dancing and cartwheels from Aunt Ginny.

So to my sister and to my new brother, thank you for bringing us home.

I'm sorry I was an ass.

Tell me about your last mental facepalm. When was the last time you realized that you had everything all wrong?

Naomi Mac Millan is a contributing writer for SoulPancake.com, the online community for speaking your mind, exploring life's big questions and otherwise figuring out what it means to be human in a big brain batter of art, science, faith, philosophy, comedy and talk shows in the back of Rainn Wilson's van.