When my husband and I were really struggling there came a point at which I had to admit that there was a strong possibility that it might not work out. It took a good amount of time to work through the shame (possible failed marriage after only how much time???), and to even start to scratch the surface in thinking about the ramifications for me and the little girls, but there was a day when I woke up with a clear understanding that regardless of what happened with my marriage that I…this girl here…I would be okay. I had been fine “by myself” for 30 years and I could certainly do it again.
Saying I’d been by myself for 30 years isn’t really true, though, is it? Sure, when I was 30 I was living by myself in a condo that I owned, driving a great car, doing well in my career, but I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination alone.
March Wine Night was a difficult one to get on the books. All the girls involved had crazy schedules with which to contend, Ess was hosting and lives on the other side of town from the rest of us so there was carpooling to plan, some husbands were out of town, one husband had just endured a vasectomy, so the “no kids” rule had to be broken, and after finally nailing down a date, Aych reminded me that we had a 5k bright and early the next morning. Since I’m no longer in the business of bailing on my girlfriends (see Get. Out.), however, it had to happen.
After getting through the first hour which was full of screaming, chasing, crying, squealing, and my girlfriends reacting to each if it was their child, we settled in to catch-up and have some wine and far too much food (I whole heartedly blame Ess for this…providing cinnamon/sugar pita chips with fruit salsa was going too far!). We talked about my girlfriend’s son who is being bullied, my girlfriend who is in the midst of an exciting job change, our husbands, our families, our current health concerns, our parents, Ess’ house and how she plans redo it, and we remembered some of the many ridicuous times we’ve shared over the years.
Upon dropping off the last of my girlfriends (WAY later than someone who is running a 5k in the morning should be), on my way home, I started thinking back and realized something significant. I have been surrounded by kind, brilliant, unwavering, generous, strong, and honest girlfriends since I was five years old. There has never been one moment in my life since then that I didn’t have the support of women who are…plainly put…truly remarkable.
My first best friend also had divorced parents and we navigated childhood dancing to loud music, running from her older brother, and seeing movies like “Footloose” at the Boulevard movie theatre.
I met the next additions to my “girlfriend arsenal” when I started seventh grade. Girlfriends who were different from me, would challenge me, would swoon over the New Kids on the Block with me, and with whom I cruised the malls. In high school we supported each other through first boyfriends, first loves, and in dealing with the mean kids who are always present in high school. I can’t even tell you how pleased I am to still call some of these women good friends. Even those who live far away and with whom I speak so very rarely…I swear if any of us truly needed each other…we would be there in a heartbeat.
In college I had my first experience with friends who weren’t actually so great. People I thought I could trust who ended up being complete a-holes. And it made me realize two very important life lessons. First, holy sh-t had I been blessed with extraordinary friends in the early party of my life. And second, I was not going to waste energy/time/love on women who were not the kind of friends I expected them to be. Oh…and in addition…if you sleep with my boyfriend after telling me I should break up with him because he’s an a-shole? We will no longer be friends.
I went into adulthood with a group of girlfriends that I adored. I wasn’t looking for more friends, didn’t think I needed them, but I’ve been so lucky to find a few more who have absolutely changed my life. Through work, and through my husband, I’ve found additional women without whom I’m not sure I would have survived the past several years.
I am the luckiest girl in the world to have girlfriends who all serve different purposes in my life…some with whom I can discuss my worry about my little girls and get honest feedback, others with whom I share health goals and struggles, others with whom I compare career notes and career dreams, others with whom I can just laugh and laugh, others who share my crippling addiction to Diet Coke, others who feel more like sisters than they do girlfriends (or cousins for that matter), others who when I look at them I literally feel like I’m looking in a mirror (but thankfully we usually go crazy at different times so we can talk each other down), others who know me better than I know myself, and these woman allow me to be everything I dream of being and they offer nothing but unwavering support, love (tough love when necessary), and strength.
I’ve met women who say they have guy friends and that women are too much work. I beg to differ. In fact, I contend that girlfriends are the ones who are our soul mates, and those with whom we choose to settle down (husbands, partners, etc.) are just icing on the cake.
All day today I’ve been thinking of the women who have changed my life, helped me live my life, and that I am ever so grateful for…and I just had to tell them thank you. Having a great husband and great children and a great family is one thing…I have all three. But having a group of girlfriends with whom to walk through this life is truly amazing.
TODAY: What if our soul mates are those with whom we surround ourselves outside of our family and life partners? And what if I do everything in my power to make sure that a) they know how thankful I am for their presence in my life, and b) to be as good a friend to them as they have been to me.