So far I have interviewed a few dozen women for this blog and while they have all had different experiences of loss or divorce, there is a common thread to their lists of advice for women. In short, they recommend that you spend more time with your girlfriends and nurture those friendships.
Last week I had the chance to spend a few days with two girlfriends whom I hadn’t seen in years. I cannot remember the last time that I laughed so hard over two and a half days. At one point – true story – one of their prints came crashing off the wall as we were laughing uproariously over another one of our shared stories. The latter had to do with aging and some of its more interesting consequences. Most normal people probably wouldn’t laugh when a really nice print gets damaged, but that just made us laugh even harder. If the Universe was trying to send us a message to tell us to pipe down, it failed miserably. We got louder.
This weekend I’m off for an overnight with my book club group (some of whom are pictured above) and it occurs to me how lucky I am to have such great girlfriends, which in turn brings back the words of many of the women I have interviewed. They talked about the importance of their female support groups as they went through their various traumas. Their network of girlfriends played a key role in the process of healing and moving forward. Nurturing strong ties with their girlfriends is now a priority.
It’s very easy to lose touch with our friends. We have the best of intentions and we certainly mean to set aside some time to get together but somehow school, work, the yard, extra-curricular sports and the very busy-ness of life all get in the way. How is it that time can evaporate so quickly?
The busy trap
In a great article entitled The Busy Trap, Tim Kreider makes a persuasive argument for controlling our addiction to being busy. He ends with a fantastic line: “Life is too short to be busy.” What if we all agreed to stop saying we’re “crazy busy” when people ask us how we’re doing? It’s become a bit of a cliche; isn’t everybody busy these days? I think Tim’s on to something. Our grandmothers were crazy busy trying to raise kids with none of the conveniences we have today, and yet I doubt they responded with “I’m so busy” when they crossed paths with their neighbours. I digress.
When Malcolm died, I discovered just how critical my friends are. My family lives several provinces away so they couldn’t help me much in the aftermath of loss. It was my friends who stepped in and provided much-needed support. My male friends helped out with stuff – computer work, renovating the house, maintaining the yard until I finally figured out how to do all that stuff by myself. (You can read about this process in A replacement husband for Christmas.)
My female friends were my emotional support. They listened to me as I cried, they offered words of reassurance and, much later, they doled out tough love in a bid to help me move forward.
There’s a saying that family is your support through thick and thin and while that’s true for some people it’s also true that a lot of family dynamics leave a great deal to be desired. Of course we should all spend time with our extended families and foster those relationships too. But the stories of support and strength that I hear through my research are mostly about friends in general, and girlfriends in particular.
So if you haven’t had a chance to spend some quality time with your girlfriends in a while, I suggest that you pull out the calendar and set up a date asap. Your kids will survive, your partner/spouse will manage perfectly well and your other obligations can wait. Just ensure that the art is securely fastened to the walls wherever you meet.
I’d love to hear your favourite stories of time spent with your girlfriends, and/or how they helped you through a tough time. Please share!
You know Doris, that print is still sitting on the floor right where it landed! It reminds us of the fantastic time we had during your visit, therefore I am in no rush to fix it just yet. Besides, it makes for a good story. We must do it again but at Turtle Falls next time…before we hang the artwork.
I agree 100% in the importance of girl time and how it can be like hitting the refresh button on our lives to bring us back from the land of crazy busy. One memorable evening we had with girlfriends took us from the world of busy busy to the land of loads of laughter while enjoying a few games of Cootie (ages 3-6). You know you’ve left all your worries (senses?) behind when you find yourself assembling oversized plastic arthropods with your 50-something friends. Well…maybe the margaritas helped!
Thanks for visiting and for the excellent addition to our “story” file.
Marilynn I love your analogy of hitting the refresh button on our lives – so true. And Cootie huh? I’m sorry I wasn’t there for that one. Your margaritas clearly inspire all sorts of hilarity!
I’m booking Turtle Falls now. Shall we make it an artwork hanging party this time? Drinks will be served AFTER the artwork is up and Ras’s job will be to supervise. 🙂
Doris — so true! I am off to Vancouver for a conference next week and have booked two days’ off to spend with my bestie. There is no substitute for friends who know and love you, warts and all, and who always have your back!
Hi Kathryn, Great to hear from you again. Good for you for taking some girl time at the end of your conference. And you’re right, friends who provide unconditional love and have your back are priceless!