One night during BlogHer’11 I went out to dinner with a bunch of women I’d “known” through their blogs and Twitter, and some on FB, for nearly 2 years. I was excited to be there, but the magnitude of it really didn’t hit me until halfway through. I looked around, saw the laughter, the intimate conversations between people who had read each other’s personal lives, the way we all knew things about each other, the connection so many of them had – and it hit me.
I missed, ever so desperately, having girlfriends.
And in an odd way. A way that I’d held back my friendship from women for a very long time. From being hurt. From moving so often as a child. From opening up to someone new and having them draw back after they realized they still wanted to pretend life was perfect. From being so judgmental about people until I’m sure they figured it out. From thinking that a friend was someone who I had met in person.
I was missing out on real friendships because I was afraid, and I had a narrow view of what a friend was.
In the months since then, I’ve tried to open up. To appreciate the friends I have, near and far. Just because someone doesn’t live in my town doesn’t mean we can’t have a strong connection.
I Skype. I write Christmas cards to women I’ve never met but really know. I friend them on FB. I have tried to show the friends who continually call, write, comment, and ask about me how much they mean to me. I have opened up in this city to making friends, and for the first time in a long time, made a dear friend who lives just down the road. I went to a meetup group yesterday to be with more women who share my parenting and life values.
Little by little, I am letting go and redefining the definition of a girlfriend. I am accepting some are face to face, others a phone call away. All are special parts of my life. There are ups and downs to each friendship, but most of the time it’s worth it to stick it out. No one is perfect.
Women have something to give emotionally to each other that men, however much we love them, can’t fulfill. As I let my “What if they don’t like me/hurt me/back off” fears go, I’ve seen just how much joy I get in return from the girlfriends in my life. How amazing it is to be a part of their lives; for them to share their struggles and successes with me, and to celebrate and sympathize with mine. How amazing that they love me back.