Friends are the family we choose for ourselves

IT’S BEEN A rough couple of years for most of us, and I don’t know what I’d do without

Because, yeah.

my friends, particularly my female friends. Friendships come in all shapes, sizes and species–and they often from unexpected places.

Most of my friends come from commonalities–writer’s groups, Humane Society volunteers and Facebook.

In fact, three of the women I’ve met on Facebook I’ve met in real life, and they stepped up in big and unexpected ways when my life started falling apart–in the space of one year, my mother and sister died less than three months apart, and while I’d been planning to leave my husband three years before I had the guts to do it, he took the opportunity of my mother’s death to make it real.

I started seeing a good shrink five years ago, and she finally kept me after our hour was done, and said, “You can stay in this marriage if you think it’s important. But he’s never going to be able to give you what you need–you’ll have to find more female friends to do that.”

Your girlfriends don’t provide each other just emotional support. Having deep, meaningful, supportive friendships is one reason why women live to be five to ten years longer than men. And, as women, many of us have been raised–by family or by society–to look out for others before we take care of ourselves. Good female friends will be the first to offer you life-saving advice: Hey. Go have that lump checked; I’m so sorry you lost your baby; Your husband’s a jerk–move on.

And they’re usually the first ones to take you to the doctor and sit with you in the waiting room, waiting for the diagnosis, sit with you on the sofa and grieve with you over the loss of a child. And help you pack up and/or throw a party when you finally get the guts and means to get out of a bad relationship.

I’m not saying male friends are bad and can’t form close and meaningful friendships–but when was the last time a man went bra shopping with you and said, “Love you, sweetie, but no. Just . . . No. Let’s keep looking.”

But to have good friends, you need to be a good friend, and I haven’t always been the kind of stable friend I should be. I often check out when things get bad at home, hide in my blanket fort with a good book and a box of crayons and shut out the world.

No more. And if you’re in trouble, reach out. Make good friends. And be a good friend. I’m doing my best . . . and if you need me, just call.

 

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