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.