I had the greatest weekend this past week. I went out with three separate and completely different groups of women on three different (and consecutive) nights! For the record, I am pretty sure that has NOT happened in at least 4.5 years, and so yeah, I am kind of bragging too! After my rare weekend of female bonding I got to thinking about women and our friendships with each other and what makes and what breaks these relationships. How is it that we can be BFFs with someone one minute and the next, cut them out of our lives like they never existed? How can we all be in the same boat and yet, so often be willing to toss someone overboard at the slightest misunderstanding? Why do I feel like I really do want to have more close girlfriends, but at the same time I am guarded and cautious with new relationships?
One of my nights out this weekend was for a girlfriend's stagette. I was out with her and a group of women that I have not seen for at least two years. These were the friends that I made when I was a first time mommy and they very quickly became my 'tribe' back then. We all had similar parenting philosophies, our kids where all roughly the same age and we all 'needed' each other. We needed to know that what we were doing was the right thing. Geez, what new mom doesn't need that. We valued and validated each other! And if you did a rewind of my life to three years ago, not a day would go by that I did not talk to one if not all of these women and never a week would go by without at least one big play date for both mommies and babies.
And then something happened....
And to be honest, I can't even remember what it was. Someone said something to someone and it hurt someone else's feelings and then someone gossiped about it to another person and then well, it just got worse and worse. And then there where different camps and if you were on one side it became harder and harder to continue being friends with the other side. And it became next to impossible to hang out with both Person A AND Person B and remain Switzerland.
So my Tribe dissipated, and with it all the support and friendship that I had relied on for over two years. I have managed to hold on to only one of those relationships and the rest I still see occasionally and talk to, but it really is not the same anymore. And even though we all came together and had a fabulous time celebrating our lovely bride-to-be friend last week, there was still an ever-present undercurrent of tension.
Any of this sound familiar to anyone? I feel like I could be talking about any number of female friendship 'break ups'.
Why are women so judge-y? Come on, don't deny it, we ALL judge. We judge each other, ourselves, our 'friends', our friends kids and just about everything else around us. It's the truth. And yes, it is ugly.
I think the outward comparisons, judgments, status and one-upmanship games are manifestations of our insecurities -- about whether we fit in and are good enough, or, in fact, better. Many women (and men, too, let's face it) get that little buzz when they know they compare more favorably -- whether it's intellect, beauty, wealth, Martha Stewart-like accomplishment on the home front, whatever.
It's human nature, but can be uniquely intense and painful with other females. If we felt more secure in ourselves and accepted the body and mind we were dealt with at birth rather than looking outside ourselves for valuation all the time, we wouldn't get so caught up in those frantic games.
My other two nights out last weekend were with two groups of women that I have just recently met and started to spend more time with. It is always terrifying for me to go and do new things and meet new people, but I am always amazed by these experiences. I met and got to know some fabulous, strong and beautiful women on both occasions, and I can't help but want to hang out with them again. I really hoped they liked me too (there go those darn insecurities of mine needing validation)!
I really have no answers here, and to be honest, I have had a hard time actually gathering my thoughts on all of this and what it all means. I did however read something else today that kind of stuck with me. It was about how DEEP our friendships are and the different levels that exist and how our friends are categorized. It may sound a bit callous, but I can see how I have lots of Level Four friends, a bunch of Level Three friends, a handful of Level Two friends, and one or two Level One friends.
And maybe this is not a bad thing....
....as long as I remember not to judge any of them, or myself, too harshly.