Posted on | January 25, 2013 | 8 Comments
In college, finding girlfriends was an easy task. I was surrounded by strong, beautiful, funny women who were searching, just like me, for their place in life. We were all so different, and yet, the commonality of being a young girl in a big world and feeling all alone drew us in close and helped us embrace each other fiercely. I spent almost every minute of every day with at least one girlfriend; be it my hilariously sarcastic and brilliant roommate, Lucy, or my kind-hearted, tender, joy of a friend, Bubba. Be it in the middle of Yonce gym during a sorority meeting. Be in on the dance floor in a fraternity house making bad decisions together. Where ever I was, they were there too. Sure, we had our ups and downs, but I never felt judged. I never felt alone. And I always had someone who was willing to share a secret and a cocktail with me.
I graduated a year early and moved hundreds of miles away with my new husband, and suddenly, I was experiencing a very different kind of woman. The women I met were mainly girlfriends or wives of Soldiers. Like me, they all had good friends “back home”, but many were not interested in making new friends. Most had serious jobs and co-workers. The phrase, “I just don’t really get along with other women,” was tossed around like a hot potato, and for the first time, I realized that women could be cruel. I found Facebook pages that mocked women who were military spouses. I heard women say they wanted nothing to do with any FRG because all of the women who were involved sucked. I heard women bash other women for having more than one child, for not working, for blogging, for doing anything that they wouldn’t do. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why women would hate each other so much. I withdrew from trying to make friends. I spent time at children’s play places with Sully, but I never made the effort to meet another mama. I joined “Meet Up” groups only to never go. I enrolled Sully in Kindermusiq, but I never learned the other moms’ names. I became an introvert for the first time in my life, and I hated that about myself.
I worked retail for awhile, but then I stayed at home when Sully was born. I found myself in a very lonely situation. I had a husband whom I ADORED but no girlfriends to gossip with over coffee. My vision of an Army family who would welcome us with open arms quickly shattered.
I spent the best part of the first three years of our marriage desperately missing my girlfriends. We would chat as often as possible and visit each other when we could, but then I would hang up the phone or watch them drive away, and immediately be back to my quiet, family life. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not, and never have been, in any way, displeased with the life I chose. I love my family to the ends of this world, and if they were all I ever had, I could find absolute satisfaction in them. But I also believe that many women have a primal, instinctual need for the company of other women. We need someone we can relate to, lean on, and share sex secrets with. We need someone who can look us in the eye and say, “I’ve been there, honey. Here, drink some more wine.” We need someone to tell us to put on our big girl panties when we complain too much. We need someone to say, “Yeah, those shoes aren’t going to work with that dress, and yes, those jeans make your butt look big.”
At least, I know I need that.
When we moved to Georgia, I finally met my first real-world, non-college friend. Erin, my neighbor, was newly pregnant, sweet, and smart. We were in similar life stages, and for the first time in a long time, I found comfort in knowing that a good friend was right next door. We would wander between the houses, seeking new recipes, baby sleeping advice, and to share funny breastfeeding stories. I still miss Erin, and we keep in touch as often as we can. In Virginia, I met another Erin, along with a couple sweet mamas that I had known previously from theBump. Erin was a fellow wife of a Soldier. Her wit made her an immediate ally, and we spent many evenings around the kitchen table laughing and teasing our husbands. The mamas from my computer were yet another reminder of how desperately I needed women friendships. They were welcoming and so kind. I was sad to leave them behind and still play Words with Friends and send text messages to them when I get a free minute.
When I arrived to North Carolina, I met the women of our FRG. While not everyone is super involved, everyone truly is so kind. I have met, I am certain, some very dear girlfriends that I will keep forever. This community is one of the most close-knit, lovely communities I’ve had the privilege of being a part of, and I am so grateful for them. I’ve met a dear friend who was first an instructor for me and now a favorite coffee buddy. I’ve met sweet neighbors who bring over cookies and invite us for dinner. I’ve met other moms at Sully’s school. I’ve met local bloggers who embraced me as though they have always known me. For the first time, in a long time, I feel like this place is fully a home. I have my beautiful family, my new house, and now, wonderful girlfriends who mean the world to me.
I understand not everyone is like me. Not everyone needs, or even wants, girlfriends. Many women are perfectly happy without other women. I have no judgement for that. To each their own, sisters! But, I do implore of every woman, please be kind to each other. We don’t all have to be best friends, but bashing each other for the hell of it? Or because we parent differently? Or make different life choices? Or own guns or don’t own guns or home school or work full-time? Why? The vast majority of women who I know who say they don’t like other women have a good reason behind their feelings. A woman has torn her apart in the past. She’s been hurt. She’s been left out. She’s had a vicious rumor spread about her. Something has happened that shouldn’t have. And what a shame. As women, we are only hurting ourselves by brutalizing another mother, wife, sister, daughter. So, stop it. And I know I’m not innocent. In my past, I have no doubt that I have hurt another woman. Unintentionally, I hope, but I feel certain that in my teenage days, I was not always as kind as I should have been.
And I promise to all women that I won’t ever be “that girl” again. I’ll never be the girl that makes another woman feel bad about herself for no apparent reason other than not fitting a mold or idea.