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Friendship

I am reading MWF Seeking BFF:  My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend.  I have mixed emotions about this book.  On the one hand, it has a lot of great information about making friends and different approaches to take.  Rachel Bertsche is a great writer who combines the science of research with the fun of a witty memoir of her own journey.   On the other hand, it shows me how much my fucked up childhood has impacted my life long term which in turn makes me a bit melancholy.

Before I start my pity party, let me first congratulate myself on recognizing the fucked up aspects of my childhood and refusing to replicate that for my kids.  They grew up in one town, basically one great neighborhood with two parents.  My daughter has an extensive circle of friends from middle school through med school and beyond.  She stays in touch to the best of her ability and that really makes me happy.

My son is a bit of a different story.  He’s a guy, and friendships are different for men.  But he did have continuity and stability plus great team sports throughout his childhood which lead to him rooming with his high school buddies in college.  Mission accomplished.

But this post is about ME!  As I read this book (and I do recommend it), I have moments of sadness and regret.  Regret that I don’t have many close girlfriends from my childhood.  Sadness that I don’t have many close girlfriends now and apparently I haven’t been using the proper methods to attract such.  Sigh.

I get it.  I had a tough marriage that did not lend itself to giving me time of my own.  My Ex hated and actively discouraged me from having friends or “Girls Nights” or anything remotely symbolizing Me Time.  Here’s a classic example of how he would punish me:

When my son was several months old, a GF invited me to go shopping.  We went to a big outlet mall and spent a great afternoon without kids.  I came home at dusk to a home with no lights on and a crying baby.  My husband was lying on our bed with the crying baby.  His explanation was basically it was all my fault for being gone so long.  WTF, can’t you man the ship and give me some time off?  The answer was clearly no.  I was furious.  Furious that he wasn’t caring for our children properly and then guilting me for trying to have some time to myself.

Now this is the man that would come home around 8:00 in the evening after usually having a drink or two with “clients” or his partner.  Now how the heck am I suppose to have friends with an active saboteur in my bed?  The answer:  it was impossible, so I pretty much gave up.  If I could have lunch with my friends during the work week, that was the best I could do.  Anything else was a logistical clusterfuck.

One of the few times I carved out time for myself was when I had a brief affair and then it was only once a week and immediately after work — I said I was working overtime.

Towards the end of our marriage, I met the woman who has become my BFF.  He actively tried to sabotage that.  Interestingly enough, he had met one of her work colleagues and at first was OK with it.  Then the work colleague ended up being a complete bitch to my BFF and of course the Ex agreed.  I’m convinced that work colleague traded sexual favors for his legal expertise….but I digress.

Between a childhood of moving around constantly and an Ex who discouraged any friendships, it’s no wonder I feel like a social pariah at times.  I was thinking about the town I lived in the longest during my childhood and that duration was only 3-1/2 years.  That’s insane.  OK, I know that military families are moving constantly but that’s expected and usually those families actively help their kids address that situation.  There was no reason for my moving except for an impulsive mother and virtually non-existent dad.

Now I have the time and a man that actively encourages me.  I am lacking money for serious friendship cultivation, but I think that’s surmountable.  I have a new goal:  expand my friendship circles by meeting new people and learning how to be a better friends.  Consistency.  Yikes, that nemesis of my character/being.  I need more consistency.  Now, let me go email a couple of women I have been trying to friend.

Oh and go read Rachel’s book.  It’s a good read.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Who am I?

Today was funny, I had the accomplishment of pushing another woman into recognizing her own worth.  Even though I don’t know her well — she is a LinkedIn acquaintance who has been calling and texting me lately for some advice — I candidly told her that she needed to stand up and take control.  She was very grateful and I felt like I had my shit together.

Then I had an afternoon call with a frenemy.  I was checking in with him because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen him.  He was back from a very successful business trip.  My green-eyed monster lurked around a bit, but mostly I hung up the phone and thought, “Good for him, but WTF – what is wrong with me?”

My thought process was why wasn’t I doing something similar?  Why are my business development efforts not so bold?  I listened to a woman last week, who I like tremendously and see as a role model.  She’s not much older than me, but what a career!  She has done it all including having kids, taking time for them and still kicking ass and taking name, but on her own terms.  I listened to her story for the first time last week and realized how many similarities we have and  yet she has great success and I’m just showing up.

I’ve been thinking about why that is.  How did I miss the magic train to career stardom?  I know that it’s because of decisions I made early in life and heck, let’s be honest — decisions I have made throughout my life.  I decided that my kids would come first, always.  Couple that with a controlling husband who was always jealous of any success and that put a kaboosh on me doing anything rock star with my career.  Am I making excuses?  Are those my limiting beliefs?  Perhaps, but perhaps that is also my reality.

Am I OK with that?  No.  I want a replay.  Actually I was writing, “I guess” and I realized that fuck no, I want the replay.  I see young women coming up in my profession and I’m jealous of them.  They have their careers ahead of them and they are pushing up the corporate ladder.  I didn’t get that.  People talk about their mentors.  I didn’t have one that helped me.  Seriously — I haven’t had one that truly helped me.  What is wrong with me?  Am I just the norm and everybody else is lying through their teeth or am I the outcast?  Am I really unpopular for reasons unknown to me?  Am I too honest in the corporate world and I should keep my mouth shut more?  Naw, that wouldn’t be any fun.

Last week I spent a morning with a potential new client.  It was our first meeting. She’s in her 20’s.  It didn’t go off well.  She warmed up towards the end, but I knew that she wasn’t comfortable with me because I AM TOO OLD.  WTF — seriously?  You think I’m kidding?  Nope, I got the rejection email this morning.  It’s fine, I understand completely, but geez louise.

What’s funny is I’m OK.  I’m a little concerned about business which of course is why I’m ranting about this stuff, but it’s also Monday and I tend to rant on Mondays.  I’m in a great mood, life is good and I’m busy as can be.  I need to be grateful for what I have.  Yep, that’s my next move:  a nice hot soak in the tub while I think about all the things I’m grateful for.

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Photo by Karla Alexander on Unsplash

 

Shadows

 

Although I was at a noisy conference yesterday, I kept my eye on the senate hearing of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  I was able to listen to most of her opening statement.  I believe her.

I believe her because I have been in similar situations during high school and college.  There but by the grace of God….in my case, I was surrounded by good, decent people who didn’t take advantage of the situation.  Well, except for one — my first college boyfriend, but I’ll get to him.

Drinking and hormones are not a great combination for the young.  They have the adult bodies ready for action but the minds aren’t ready.  In my case, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.  I had classic Daddy issues.

I listened to Dr. Ford, who is slightly younger than me, and thought back to those high school days.  She ran with an elite crowd — the country club/private school set.  That’s the set my kids grew up with even though they went to public schools.  In my youth, I also went to public high school, but I ran around with the smart kids — the kids of doctors and attorneys — in a small college town.  The kids who look perfect on the outside, but can definitely get into trouble.

I woke up from a dream this morning and in it were some folks from high school.  I realized that Dr. Ford is triggering me to remember parts of my young adulthood that I have buried.  I remembered several instances where I was drunk, but others kindly looked after me and got me safely home.  What if they hadn’t been there?

What about the frat party I went to when I was told I had a phone call?  I went into a bedroom to take a call and was locked in a room with two guys.  I grabbed the phone and there was nothing but a dial tone and when I spun around I realized my predicament.

Little did they know that the reason I actually thought I would have a phone call is that my mom was in a turbulent time with her 2nd husband who was an abusive alcoholic.  I thought she needed me to come rescue her.  Looking back, I wonder how they knew I would fall for the phone call trick — I guess naivety shows.

Anyway, here I am in a bedroom with two guys and a king size bed separating us.  They are between me and the door.  I was terrified.  I wasn’t drunk.  Thankfully, they only wanted my sorority pledge pin.  They grabbed me and fumbled for it.  You have to wear it over your left breast.  I submitted, they got it and I fled.

I went barreling out into the party, immediately went to senior sorority sisters and I don’t remember much else.  I just know I had people around me for safety.  To get that damn pledge pin back, we had to go sing at their house.  My sorority sisters were great — we moved all their furniture out onto the front lawn for our performance (so we would have room) and then left it there.  Months later, I exacted an even better revenge — we stole their antique firetruck.  But that’s a story for another day.

As Dr. Ford told her story, that bedroom incident kept popping into my mind.  Over and Over.  As I write this, I get teary.  I have no idea who those men were.  I don’t have names.  I was so, so lucky.

I was also lucky when later that same year when I was initiated into the sorority, I went out celebrating with friends.  I was somewhat seeing a much older man (32 to my 18).  We were at a big sorority/fraternity party and I downed 3 screwdrivers.  That landed me on the couch unable to move or speak because I was so drunk.  I was so lucky.

Nobody bothered me, nobody preyed upon my inebriated state and later a couple drove me home and made sure I got in safely.  OK, I opened the door and fell over the threshold much to my mom’s shock, but I was home safely.

That was all in my sophomore year.  In my freshman year, which was at another college, my predator became my boyfriend.

I was young when I got to college.  I was 17, having graduated from high school a year early.  A well-meaning high school friend told me to call this guy who was a year older.  She wanted me to have some friends or know somebody when I got there.  I met him, a ginger-haired, outgoing guy.  Now I know that he probably has ADHD.  Even then I knew he had a drinking problem.

We went to a frat party.  I got drunk, as frat boys preferred, and threw up.  That dude still kissed me with vomit-breath.  Ugh.  He got me back to my dorm room and tried to fuck me.  I pushed him away.  I don’t remember if we fucked or not.  I was too drunk.

Non-confrontational Maggie, who only wanted to be liked and loved, agreed to keep seeing this asshole.  This guy who was constantly pressuring me for sex, sex that really wasn’t very good at all.  I liked his friends.  I liked being a couple.  He was bad news. I managed to escape him by moving across the country to another college.  Yes, I moved away to escape him and for other reasons.

My childhood was complex.  I wasn’t abused.  I always had food and clothing.  My parents were smart and educated, but self-centered.  As soon as my parents separated when I was six, my mom moved around.

She first moved to get a different college degree in what she really wanted.  I have to give her props, she was the oldest student in the class and this was the profession she wanted, not the English degree her parents insisted on. That process necessitate two moves:  one to the College Town #1 (grades 2-3) and then to another city for the 6-month internship.

Then we moved back to the city where my dad lived.  That didn’t work out.  He didn’t want her in the town, her job sucked, so we moved about a  year later. That was 4th grade.  I hated 4th grade.  My school life was consumed by bullies and nobody was interceding on my behalf.

Now we were in in Town 3 for 5th grade, for those keeping track, and it was a charming college town.  I loved that town.  I could ride the bus around, great schools, good friends.  I had a paper route.  I won an election for a school office (7th grade) right before Christmas.

Then I learned we were moving back to College Town #1 in January, so I had to relinquish my office, my friends and my great school.  College Town #1 was building a new middle school, but the current one sucked.  Ancient, dilapidated.  The blessing was that many of the kids remembered me.  I didn’t really remember them, but that was OK.

We stayed in College Town #2 until 11th grade.  Then my mom met Ed.  That motherfucker.  She didn’t want to be lonely and found this guy.  He was a piece of lying, alcoholic shit.  I came home from school in the Fall of 11th grade and got a call from a hospital in Florida.  Congrats, my mom got the job in Florida and they needed her to call to wrap up some of the details.  She never told me that she was looking for a job.  She never told me that leaving before I would graduate high school was in the cards.  She was moving for Ed, who needed to skip the state to evade his crazy Ex wife.  We moved 10 DAYS later to a shithole town.  My only escape was to graduate a year early, so I did.

I left behind in College Town #2 a kind, gentle boyfriend, tons of friends — friends whose parents were calling my mom and begging her to let me stay with them for my final year and a half of school. But my mom wouldn’t hear of it — she didn’t want my dad to have a reason to gain custody of me.

With all this moving around, I learned that to make friends quickly I needed to be nice, funny and accommodating.  Add to that the lack of any male father figure and that’s a classic recipe for a woman to have Daddy issues.

So Dr. Ford, I believe you.  I know you are telling the truth and I know that Judge Kavanaugh is a lying sack of shit.  I know that he had some serious drinking issues in his youth because I dated his type.  I know that his white-privileged mind cannot wrap itself around that fact that karma is a bitch and she is here to claim her due.

Let’s hope the US Senate realizes this as well.

Friendship

When do you intervene with a friend and tell her she’s wrong?  I am having that dilemma with my BFF.  I’m not rushing around preparing my remarks, but this idea has been slowly percolating in my brain over past the month or two.

I have found an interesting phenomena among some of my single acquaintances. I am talking about those that have lived alone for many years (7+ years).  They get a little wacky or sometimes a lot wacky.  Here are three examples to support my theory:

  • Exhibit A: My work mentor.  I had a work mentor that was a great help to me while I was building my book of business.  She is older than me and feisty, candid and funny — all a great combination for me.  But…we had our differences.  Politically we were polar opposites and we just had to agree not to talk about it.  When she retired, note the word retired, she accused me of stealing a client.  I did no such thing, the client called me and besides, my mentor was RETIRED.  Then she told me not to divorce my Ex no matter what — that really pissed me off.  I basically stopped contacting her.  I was done and then I realized that the relationship had been skewed for awhile.  My Mentor would get an opinion and it stuck — no matter if her facts were wrong or whatever.

I theorize that when someone isn’t intimate with folks on a daily basis, you don’t have anyone to push back when your crazy peeks out.

  • Exhibit B:  Hunter’s former friend (HFF) – he went off the deep end recently and broke off his friendship with the Hunter.  The Hunter made the mistake of trying to use him for a business venture.  HFF not only produced poor work, but then he disappeared for a few weeks.  This lead the Hunter to make other arrangements.  When HFF surfaced and decided he wanted in, the Hunter said nope and HFF was furious.  Furious enough that several weeks later the Hunter got a demand letter from an attorney for $$ for HFF’S time.  What a piece of work.  This is all being worked out by attorney’s and HFF will get nothing, but where was his buffer to tell him that he’s bat-shit crazy to attack a friend so maliciously.

Sometimes living alone and having to deal with all the day-to-day crap by yourself leads you to feel over-confident, invincible and unwilling to ask for help.  This is where my BFF is at (Exhibit C).  My heart goes out to her, she’s in a tough spot.  Her job sucks, her boyfriend of 3 years broke up with her and she’s trying to make some big life changes.  She is thinking about a huge redevelopment project of tearing down her house and building something else to sell for investment.  She has never undertaken such a project.  We had lunch with another friend of mine, a seasoned savvy real estate expert, who later called me and said, “she’s going to get eaten alive if she tries that”.  Yep, I know.

My BFF has had some health issues and never called me.  When her BF broke up with her, she didn’t return my calls for 2 weeks.  I was so concerned about her.  How do you tell your BFF that she’s a bit crazy right now and she needs to get to a therapist.  She wanted to use her mental health benefits for the therapy but couldn’t get a therapist she thought was appropriate for her.  She won’t call mine because mine is private pay.

I don’t know how to help her.  Do I tell her some cold hard truths?  Is she ready for that?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know….

###

I wrote that about two weeks ago and last night sat down with my BFF to catch up.  I didn’t want to be stuck in rush hour, so why not pop over for a visit?  She was heading to Europe.  OK, that caught me off guard, but hey, she’s an adult and I don’t need to know all her day-to-day business.  She has a mysterious contact and meeting with a source of funding for her redevelopment project but she would share no information on that.  I found that strange, but whatever, I’m not going to insist on confidences if she isn’t feeling it.

I drove away thinking about something I read/heard/saw on LinkedIn where someone was talking about the first clue you are in trouble/over your head is when you are sublimely confident.  I agree.  That’s when Life loves to walk up and smack. you.  She’s sublimely confident and I’m afraid for her.  I’m worried about how she’s going to handle her work exit, her house situation and more.  I’m worried about her being alone too much.

I need to think about this some more.  It may be too soon for an intervention,but geez, I love her to death and at some point I think I should tell her that her Crazy is sticking up all over.

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Beautiful but a bit prickly.  Photo by Ember + Ivory on Unsplash

Friends

Since moving farther away from my girlfriends, I have become the geographically-undesirable friend.  They still love me but only when I come to their neck of the woods.  I met a lovely woman several weeks ago on a train, we chatted up a storm and exchanged business cards.  I finally cleaned out my purse and found her card.

I sent her an email inviting her to two things:  1) a professional women’s group event and 2) coffee/lunch when she’s telecommuting since we live close to one another.

OMG, writing that email was like asking somebody out on a date.  WTF?  When I checked out her company bio, she is quite the business exec, so that was a bit intimidating.  Then I thought, just be Maggie.  Either she likes you or not, but just go for it and be authentic.

She responded immediately saying yes to both!  I was thrilled.  Then came the really weird part….the Hunter knows her Ex husband.  He walked in and recognized her picture from her company website…she was married to a former boss of his.  We stared at each other and burst out laughing.  I’m never going to say a word….

This is a great example of how difficult it can be to make friends when we are adults.  My kids were a great source of my friends for years.  All those hours sitting on the sidelines for a variety of sports lead to the adults having no choice but to bond over covert glasses of wine/beer/water.  I made many a friend, many men surprisingly, watching my kids play their sports.

Now with an empty nest, it is hard to meet potential friends.  I have found I really have to make the first move and see where it goes.  I did meet another cool woman at the dog park the other day.  I need to bump into her again….

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Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today marks four years of blogging here.  Four years, wow.  So much in my life has changed in that time.  Let’s see:

  • I finally started dating and had sex for the first time in perhaps a decade.  Wow, that was momentous.
  • I found adventure and love with the Hunter.  Even though we have had our ups and downs (like any relationship), he is steadfast and true to me.  I love him dearly.
  • I moved, twice, in four years.  I left a great bachlorette pad to move for the Hunter’s job.  Neither that job nor that place worked out for us.  Now we are happily in a smaller place in an area that makes us much happier.
  • I started my own company with the roller coaster of excitement, stress and damn hard work that comes with being an entrepreneur.
  • My weight is all over the place.  I started at my lowest when I started the blog and worked my way up to a yucky, too-close-to my peak number and now I’m headed back down the scale (more on THAT later also).
  • Writing this blog has taught me so much about myself.  I read back through previous posts and say, “hmmm” or “ah ha” or “I’m such an idiot” or occasionally, “Nailed it!”.

Perhaps one of the best things about this anniversary is that I’m sharing it with the tribe of friends I have made by writing this crazy blog.  I have read and commented on some blogs (not as much lately, but it’s not because I don’t love you — time is short) and I have ALWAYS appreciated the comments and advice from my Dear Readers.  Thank you.

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Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Bebopping Along

I’m happier in our new place.  Both the Hunter and I feel like a cloud has lifted.  Stress has lessened and we like our new environs.  I still have some unpacking to do, but it’s primarily in my office so it can be ignored easier than other places.

I’m trying the trick of hanging all my clothes backwards so this time next year I can see if I wore everything.  If I didn’t, I can more easily determine what to dump.  It will be interesting to see what survives.  My closets, shelves and drawers are organized.  The Hunter is great to have around because he’s fearless with a drill.  He puts up shelves, hangs pictures and organizes things so handily.  I empty the boxes and he gets rid of them.

The only room that we are still experimenting with is the family room/living room.  It’s really small, so we don’t have a margin for excess.  Right now it has a daybed that the Hunter adores.  Last weekend he took such a solid nap I caught him sleeping like a toddler complete with drool coming out of his mouth.  I cannot deny a man the ultimate napping spot.  We just need to figure out the other seat.  Right now I brought in an outdoor chair with its ottoman and changed out the cushions.  It’s OK, but the Hunter and I agree it’s not the long-term solution.  We are thinking…recliner.  Yup, just like old farts.  We want comfort and screw everyone else.

We added Roku so we can stream our cable, Netflix and Amazon Prime.  That lead to the Hunter adding Sling because the man is desperate for his ESPN.  We have been loving all of the new channels.  I binge on Project Runway until he howls in protest.  He happily watches hunting shows and basketball playoffs.  We’ve really enjoyed the improved TV situation.

Now that the cloud is lifting (only metaphorically because it has been walls of water for over 10 days now), I look at my work situation and say, “Hmmm, Maggie & Co isn’t a bad thing, perhaps what I need is some form of side hustle to supplement it.”  I realize that I have things most people dream of:  freedom, flexibility, decent income (albeit sporadic as hell) and NO BOSSES, just some crazy-ass clients at times, but really nobody looking over my shoulder day-to-day.

Speaking of bosses, after I got Robin her job, she called me this week after a couple of weeks of the new gig.  She’s quitting.  WTF?, you ask.  I can’t blame her.  Her church (which amuses me because I don’t see Robin as being religious) offered her a full-time job.  She’ll be working with her daughter and seeing her grandbaby every day.  Robin is not even 50 and she’s a grandmother — go figure.  Anyway, she’s making less $$, BUT she was commuting 1-1/2 hours or more each way, getting home around 8:00, less freedom and flexibility (limited vacation/holidays), dress code — all those things that come with a reasonable, responsible job.  The new church job is less $$ but it’s a 10 minute commute, business casual and she spends her day with her family.  How can you begrudge her?  The Hunter asked if I was upset and honestly, I am not.  Everybody’s journey is different and if she wasn’t happy, then she needed to do what is right for her.

I’m keeping myself busy.  I just signed up for some business events.  I got annoyed when I tried signing up for one and missed the deadline by an hour.  It was an event I created for a group that kicked me off the board (my 2nd term was up and it was time).  I sent a nice email apologizing for being a ditz and asking for them to squeeze me in.  Nope, they won’t do it.  Yep, that’s why I don’t want to sit on anymore professional non-profit boards.  No good deed(s) goes unpunished.  That’s OK, it saved me some significant bucks and time — I think Karma was telling me not to go.

Gotta run, the Hunter is walking in the door and I gotta go give him a smooch!

 

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