Barbara: As this is a blog featuring two friends, I feel compelled to examine female friendship for a moment—and might as well start with the divine Ms. M, my blogger buddy.
Can I just say she is everything a girlfriend should be and I love her for it. Thanks to Deb and my other best friend, Charlotte, I have discovered the joys of what it’s like to have a truly great girlfriend, which as it turns out is someone who listens to you, supports you, celebrates you, and believes in you one hundred percent WHEN THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO (ie: like your parents or husband).
And they actually and truly MEAN IT (you can always tell when someone is faking their support, right? It’s that artificially high pitch in their voice. Or maybe they never inquire about your life at all…). The thing is, though, the presence of these super gal-pals in my life has also made me realize just how ignorant I used to be when it came to friendship with women.
I grew up very independent and self-sufficient (just ask my mom), and while I had female friends, I always kind of (and for this, of course, I blame myself) held them at arms’ length while I focused on my personal pursuits and romantic love. I never shared deep secrets with my girlfriends, never sought them out in times of trouble, and always tried to be the “strong one” when things were difficult.
As I got older and had kids and struggled with my own aspirations, I felt myself become fundamentally lonelier and lonelier despite having a loving husband and daughters. With no real girlfriends around with whom to commiserate, I had painted myself into an emotional corner. And I had let it happen for all the usual reasons: the women in my life had become on the one hand more like “progeny” I felt compelled to mother (who, in my mind, couldn’t possibly bear the weight of my own disappointments), or on the other hand, turned out to be the kind of women who “shocked me with their selfish behaviour”, or were “bitches” or “whiners”, or worse, threatened my world.
It took me to hit rock-bottom before I realized I had left myself without that precious life-preserver: a true girlfriend. That’s when I made the conscious decision to pull up my boot-straps––at the ripe old age of 37––and begin to unabashedly troll for a best friend, coyly “interviewing” potential (and unwitting) candidates. Yes, I even joined a coffee klatch! I knew I’d know her when I saw her, and I certainly wasn’t going to settle—and this time, I was going to invest: time, energy, unconditional love, reciprocal support, and no-holds-barred honesty. Well, my efforts paid off with not one but two of the best friends a woman could ask for.
Thank you, Deb and Charlotte. Thanks for raising the bar and revealing the magic.
I still encounter many women of the “other” ilk, but no matter, you have both opened my eyes to the many rewards of non-judgmental companionship and girly fun. And, as if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also brought with you an even wider circle of satisfying friendships as well as helping me become a better friend to the fascinating women already in my life. Through you, I have also learned to bring my “best friend” skills (listening and sharing) to my dear and wonderful sisters.
Now that I know what I was missing, I ask myself: how could I have gone so long without this???!