When NMIL saw the garment bag hanging off the back of the door, she reached out her hand to touch it and said, "Oooh, is this your wedding dress?" Her eyes filled with excitement and longing. To her, seeing the dress meant that she could brag to her friends and family that she was a part of our wedding. Knowing something so personal about me would have made her feel powerful.
"Yes," I said, "that is my wedding dress."
"Can I see it?" She asked.
"No," I said.
She said, "Oh. Are you superstitious?"
"No," I replied. "I'm just not showing it to you."
I'm sure she is not used to hearing that word. She never got used to hearing it from me. Of course, she usually heard it indirectly, since she always asked DH the questions, in the hopes she'd get a "yes" if she didn't include me in the conversation. She didn't count on DH communicating with me. She didn't count on our tremendous respect for each other. When she asked him if we would go on vacation with her, the answer was a resounding "no." When she asked him if we wanted to have our wedding at her house, the answer was "no." When she asked us to come to her house for the holidays, the answer was "no." It's no surprise why she doesn't like me, she doesn't like anyone who tells her no. She chose to think that I wasn't showing her my gown for some frivolous reason, so that she could tell herself at the end of the day that SHE wasn't the reason why I refused.
I showed the gown to my mother. I showed it to my best friend. I let them in, I let them be a part of my special world. I even tried it on for them once before the wedding. I said no to NMIL because she didn't deserve to see it. I said no because showing her my wedding dress, in spite of what she has done, would be like saying, "Treat me like shit and I'll still let you in." I said no because I wanted to send the message loud and clear, that she could play her games, but I wasn't going to be a part of them. I said no because I knew what yes meant to her. I'm not superstitious. I don't even follow most of the traditional wedding hype (all that garter-wearing-bouquet-throwing stuff), so neither were accurate reasons for my refusal. I could say no to her without having to explain myself because I was confident in my right to say no. It was simple: the answer was just, "No. You can't see my dress."
Some might argue, what's the big deal? It's only a dress. I say, if NMIL were capable of telling the truth, she would say it was a huge deal. She would say that my wedding dress was a symbol of power, it was a symbol of MY power. It meant I was marrying HER son, which, in turn, meant I was taking him away. If she were an honest person, and could lay herself bare to the world, she would say she was afraid of that dress and the control it meant I had. By keeping it from her, she would say, I was taking all the power for myself and stealing away all of her control.
So sad when you look at what my wedding dress meant to me: It had nothing to do with power or control and everything to do with happiness. That dress meant I was in love, that DH and I were going to start our lives together. It was a symbol of our Truth, our passion, our courage. When my family saw me in that dress, they felt only happiness for me and for DH. They saw beauty, they felt affection, they were proud.
My wedding dress had nothing to do with power and everything to do with love. Anyone who couldn't see that was blind.