Saturday, January 10, 2009

Girl Power and Other Lessons in Growing Up

I've been working on building friendships with other women the last few months. It has been very helpful and I've appreciated it more than I can ever tell them. There's not a better cure for a day of sitting on the couch, pajama-clad and feeling hopeless than an evening of drinks with the girls or a cold, brisk walk up the butte with a friend. Laughter sometimes is the best medicine and it comes easily when I can share how many times I had to change clothes just to leave the house or make fun of the guy that won't get a clue or how my dog wouldn't stop farting the day before.

Most of my new friends have been going through similar experiences as I have, which is most likely the reason I felt so connected to them in such a short time. We've been able to offer each other a sympathetic ear and support we may not have gotten elsewhere. Lately I have realized how I've missed this kind of support. It surprises me how we, as women, really abandon each other at times. I have to admit that I am just as guilty.

My sister married an older man last year. Older as in a 20+ year difference, old enough to be her father. Only he looks more like her grandfather standing next to her. Nobody has been happy about her choice. My parents were beside themselves in the beginning, my mom even accused him of "stealing her youth." I refused to attend the wedding for several reasons, the cost of going to Mississippi for a weekend being one of them, not knowing if she would actually go through with it another. I also knew that I wouldn't be able to bite my tongue to keep from saying something nasty to her elderly groom, a man I don't even know but have a strong opinion about. This wouldn't have been fair to her, not on a day that was supposed to be about her and what she thought would be making her happy.

In the end though, this is her choice. It shouldn't matter what I think, or what my parents or my brother think. It doesn't matter. We don't know how she feels or what it is about him that she is drawn to. We can laugh and joke and say it's a daddy complex. Maybe it is. Maybe it's real. But it's her choice and ultimately it's up to the rest of us to simply respect it as such and let her have happiness where she finds it.

I don't know how it got so easy for us to judge one another. Why do we think that tearing one person down builds up another? It doesn't. Does it make us feel safer in our own poor choices? Justified when we're right and relationships fall apart? "I told you so." What does that even mean? "I told you that you're an idiot and not competent enough to trust your own judgment." Is that what we want to tell each other? Are we so selfish that we'd rather be right when our girlfriend stumbles and falls, rather than just hold her hand and say, "I know. I understand."

We all have our own journeys, our own paths to walk, our individual lessons to learn. We don't get there at the same time, some learn quicker than others, some need to be hit over the head with the same hard lesson repeatedly before they finally get it and move on. Our jobs as women, as people, should be to support each other through the process, keep our opinions to a minimum and simply allow our friends to find happiness wherever and however they find it.

To my new friends and old friends, I am grateful for your support. I know that you care and want me to be happy and that your intentions are well meaning. Hold my hand when it gets hard, but please leave the catty remarks to yourselves and let me make my journey. I will do the same for you.


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