I just got off a coaching call with my book writing coach. We celebrated that my publisher is open to talking about a possible updated version of my book! Aahhhhh!!! And then I asked for help preparing for that meeting, because I didn’t want to come off like I felt entitled to a new edition or like I was being a diva.
“I don’t want to be like… a Bridezilla.”
That was the best way I could explain the version of entitled, dramatic, spoiled baby energy that I was worried I’d project to my publisher.
“I don’t want them to think I’m coming in like wah wah I want a golden goose NOW.” This line came with very snarky hand gestures and an overdramatic frowny face.
And even while I said it, I knew it was bullshit.
Because that’s not how I act, and I would never behave that way. I’d be super grateful for the chance to update my book but I also know that publishers have to make business decisions, not just decisions that make their authors happy. At the same time, they do seem to actually care about their authors. (At least my indie press does!)
So where was this fear of being a spoiled brat coming from and why was I so afraid of it?
Oho, I have an answer. Let’s go on a journey.
What’s a Bridezilla?
The definition on Google for this term is:
“A woman whose behavior in planning her wedding is regarded as obsessive or intolerably demanding.”
Sure, you can see a bit of monstrous “-zilla” in that definition. But then the example used in a sentence is this:
“I don’t want to be a Bridezilla, but so far my attempts at getting people to respect my wishes aren’t working.”
That translates to, “I have asked for what I want and need several times and been ignored, and now I have been pushed to my limits and when I express my overwhelm I will be labeled a crazy lady.”
Reality TV shows notwithstanding, I think “Bridezilla” is a term used to silence women and downplay their very real attempts to ask for what they want, be assertive, and stand up for themselves during the very stressful process of planning a wedding. Because the instant she wants something in particular that inconveniences anyone or offends their sense of tradition, people swoop in and tell her she’s being a monster.
The options are to maintain boundaries and continue dealing with Bridezilla accusations, or shut up and choose “peace,” relinquishing control of something that honestly SHOULD be in your control – especially when the stakes are low and it should not be a big deal.
Respectfully, fuck all that.
The Time I Was a Bridezilla
My wedding reception was an outdoor pot-luck. At the time, I was vegan and my husband was (lying about being) vegetarian. So we did not plan to have any meat at the reception. My first wedding reception had meat and I basically had to eat sides and appetizers the whole time. I wanted my own dietary needs to be more prioritized for this wedding. We had lots of appetizers, snacks, chips, veggies and fruit, and plenty of cake and dessert.
A couple of days before the wedding, my dad called me and said he was going to bring a tray of cold-cuts and asked if he could store it in our fridge. I said yes because I didn’t want to tell him that I didn’t want a tray of cold-cuts at my vegetarian reception. But later, my husband offered to call my dad and explain that I really didn’t want the meat there.
I talked to my mom about it too. That I had trouble telling dad no but I really didn’t want meat there because it went against my values as a vegan. And the event was just a couple hours long, so if he really needed meat he could eat before or after.
She said, “Don’t be a Bridezilla. It’s not that big a deal.”
But it was a big deal to me.
And I had spent my whole life being told by my parents that things not going my way wasn’t that big a deal. So the one time I stood up for what I wanted, I was accused of being a Bridezilla. Monstrous. Controlling.
I later found out from a guest that my dad went around the reception asking people if they thought there should be meat. Seriously.
Trauma makes boundaries harder
I have extreme trouble asking for things or maintaining a boundary when I anticipate a conflict, which then builds resentment and ends up blowing up. I know this and I work on it a little at a time.
I understand logically that basic conflicts can be fixed with a conversation. “Hey. Can you change the toilet paper roll when you finish the last one? Thanks!”
Not me, though. I simply assume that if you wanted to change it, you would, and if I bring it up you will somehow make it my fault that you used the toilet paper.
This is what trauma does. Abusive relationships. Codependency. Parents who accuse you of being controlling over a plate of cold cuts. Husbands who say they might hit you if you come too close while they’re angry.
Being in a healthy relationship for the past three years has been eye-opening and an ongoing practice in consciously deciding to be vulnerable. Each time I let a little more of my wall of Being Unobtrusive At All Costs down and share something I need, or something that bothers me, it becomes a little safer in my home and my heart.
And no one has ever been mad at me for sharing a need or problem. Ever.
I don’t want to be scared of no-stakes or low-stakes conversations. And I certainly don’t want to fear a really important conversation with my publisher about a book I’m really proud of. Asking to update it so it’s a more accurate reflection of the topics within is a win-win-win for us.
I win because I feel great about the updated work! The publisher wins because they have an angle to re-promote it! The readers win because it’ll be an even better book!
I don’t have a tidy conclusion for this one. But that Bridezilla thread took me on a journey and I hope reading this post helped you to realize that you can ask for what you need and want, and it doesn’t mean anything bad about you. It means you know how to ask. And that’s a really good skill. Proud of you!
Want cool emails from me with life lessons about meat or whatever’s on my mind? bit.ly/CaitNotes will hook you up.