Friendships, for women so it seems, is more complicated and confusing than for men. It is potentially the most emotionally rewarding or deeply painful of any other relationship a girl could have.
Maybe it’s just me, but no other relationship has made me question everything about myself…how I look, how I respond, did I do the right thing, say the right thing, wear the right thing? I totally question my own inner knowing. I know this chick is upset with me but when I ask her if she is OK, she tells me she’s “fine.” Seriously man, do you think you’re the only one that gets that response?!
What do you do when your husband makes a pass at her? What do you do when she makes a pass at your husband? What do you do when you do all the work in the relationship with the other female friend and she doesn’t reciprocate? What do you do when you are more invested in your friendship then she is? How do you maintain female friendships when you move to a different town and you’re no longer invited to stuff? What do you do when you invite them and they don’t show up?
The whole “good old girls network” is real. “Mean girls” is a real thing.
Now let’s add to that equation that you’re different somehow. You’re really short, or really tall, you’re exceptionally large, you’re exceptionally thin, you’re really rich or really poor. You’re completely bald. You stutter. You get really sweaty in social situations. You’re famous. You’re a genius. Someone in your family has gone to prison. You lived in Ohio and were held hostage in a crazy guy’s house for 10 years and everybody knows it.
Friendships are difficult for me, but then you add something that makes you stand out from the “norm” or you just have difficulty with interpersonal relationships, you are so screwed in the world of relationships – especially same-sex relationships.
Maybe this is just my reality, because I certainly can’t blame coming out about my past as the culprit since friendships have been difficult for me right out of the womb.
I remember last fall, when I was trying to be a good girl and go to church regularly. The minister ask that we all join a “small weekly group.” I was surprised and curious by the emotion that his request created in my body. So I sat and thought about it. I questioned myself…Why am I having such a strong reaction about joining a group? What I realized, was that I feared the group wouldn’t want “someone like me,” that I would be an outcast, different, the weirdo. It’s just like elementary and middle school all over again. God help me!
So I asked to speak to this minister for a couple of minutes, and I told him about my feelings and revelation. He told me he would think about it and get back to me. He never got back to me, and I never returned to his church.
That’s what you call avoidance. It’s not exactly a high minded response to an opportunity to heal an emotional boo-boo. Just sayin…
When I first moved to south Portland, I immediately went into competition mode for bodybuilding, which conveniently took up almost all of any social time opportunity. Yay!
After that I was completely absorbed with saving all of the children in the state of Maine and was conveniently very very busy. It was easy to keep people at arms length while occasionally barking up the wrong possible female friend tree, longing for connection, which only fed my fuel to remain distant.
Now this summer I’ve taken quite a bit of time off to work on moving, remodeling, and creating our home. It’s been interesting watching on Facebook old friends getting together and having fun like we used to. I am giving myself permission to be sad that I’m not with them and also happy that they have each other.
I’m compassionately guiding myself to be open to making new friendships here and dancing with all the inner critic thoughts and fears and emotional boo-boos of the past.
This has been the topic of conversation with some women that I really respect. The dance of friendship is difficult. Sometimes there is that choice that says, “Even though I’m more invested in the relationship than you are, I would rather it be this way then not having you in my life at all.”
Then there’s the kick in the ass when somebody else says, “I’m tired of asking you out all the time. If you want to be friends with me, you’re going to have to step up to the plate girlfriend and call me!”
Then there is the time that we really have to face reality and ask ourselves…Is this person toxic in my life, or does their way of life bring too much drama into my life? Maybe it’s not them, but the baggage that they bring.
Sometimes we just have to clean the house and let go of what no longer serves our greatest and highest good.
For me, I have a little wounded girl that lives inside of me that wants the other kids to like me and invite me to play and act like they’re really glad that I’m their friend. She gets really hurt and pouts, and sometimes she wants to take her ball and go home and not play with anybody for a really long time to show them what they’re missing.
Sometimes I have to take that little girl inside of me and say, “You’re welcome to be in the car with me sweetheart, but you can’t drive.”
It always serves me to not react too quickly, but to step back and see where my reaction is coming from. Try to see the big picture and talk to a wise friend who will tell me the truth.
I met a great group of women last night, and we exchanged contact data. Of course I immediately assume that once they get on my Facebook or my website, they’re never going to want to have anything to do with me!
That’s when I say to myself… “Get in the backseat.”
When I worked with Hospice for three short years, I worked with the elderly. I enjoyed it so much! I learned so much! You know, when people have months, weeks, hours to live, they never talk about their vacations, their vacation homes, what kind of cars they drove, what kind of job they did. Every one of my clients would tell me stories about their friends, their loved ones, the people they made lasting memories and wild adventures with, the ones that made them laugh, and the ones that were there for them in their times of need.
Sometimes we invest our thoughtfulness and generosity to clients, employees, or strangers, and we can treat the people who really have our backs, who are loyal faithful friends, less than those other people.
What a mistake.
I have often felt like the rest of the world got the memo on where and when to pick up the “how to” manual on friendships. I’m just hanging on trying to figure it all out.
The nice thing about being post-menopausal is that I find I am not nearly as invested in contorting myself to make people like me. Now, I just do me, and deal with the now-tolerable pain of when who I am isn’t liked.
Life seems complicated, but I think that’s only true in my head.
If I just come back to minding my own business and treating others with love and kindness, it gets a whole lot easier…
Until a little someone I know wants to drive…