From our first playdate to that moment when all the old ladies and their walkers are shuffling quietly down to dinner, women stick together. We value friendships, fiercely devoted to one another, we are the ones to respond to a late night cry for help. Our female friends support us through childbirth, weddings and all the significant moments of our lives.
Who do you call when you have something joyous or sad to share? A girlfriend.
I’ve moved a fair bit during my adult life, mostly following a husband through graduate school and post-graduate studies. We rarely lived anyplace for more than a few years. And, in each fleeting community I learned to quickly find my tribe–a group of women with similar outlooks and an appreciation of good literature, fun times, children and get-togethers. It fed and soothed me through the bad times and the good.
My dearest friends are miles away, present in spirit and phone calls and emails. I don’t have many local female friends at this point in my life, at a time when I miss and yearn for the presence of a group of women. How did this happen? Yet another relocation, though it’s been 12 years now and more damaging–a divorce. The couples we knew were “his” friends and in the ensuing months and years they drifted off. The double blow of being uprooted and seeking a divorce left me drained and less than excited about getting out and making new friends. I’m sure many divorced women can relate to this experience.
Today the pains of divorce are long since healed and I’m past the ‘newcomer’ stage. Yet, it’s still a challenge to find and develop a close set of friends. It’s a time of change for women our age–menopause, the empty nest, the challenges of midlife and career transitions.
In spite of the traditional thought that technology is for the young, I’m finding new support networks and like-minded women on the internet. Women in their 50′s are coming to the web for support, information, the chance to promote or protest politics, religion, advertising trends and anything else you can possibly think of. Over 50 women are writing wonderful blogs, inventing and reinventing lives and creating support networks. My head spins occasionally trying to keep up.
We are vastly different and span the whole of the US. And, yet within 60 miles of where I live I just found 3 other bloggers with whom I share many things. We are in a group called GenFab, on Facebook and on Google+ where we support each other in many ways. It’s an amazing experience to reach out for a suggestion or ask advice, or share good news and then be met with a quick volley of useful, often humorous conversations.
In any place, in the real world or online, what we all crave is meaningful connection. As women of a certain age we want the following:
- To be heard with respect and true listening.
- To be supported by other women who understand that we are at our most powerful when we speak with a common voice
- To be encouraged when we seek out new creative ventures.
- To be nudged when needed–whether it’s an admonishment gently given to help us regain control or a rousing ”Atta Girl”.
- To be seen in our full glorious power as wise, resilient women. With much to offer this world that often relegates us to the pre-rocking chair stage of life.
- To have a place where we feel perfectly comfortable in our own skin, showing our blemishes and frailties without fear of rejection.
I don’t expect literal chicken soup if I get the flu. But if I need a figurative hug or shout out, I know exactly where to go.
Friends come in all stages of our lives. And, as others have noted, we often get what we need in life–at the exact moment when we need it. I’m changing yet again. It’s not a literal relocation but mentally I’m still trying to find my vocation and solidify my life goals. You need not feel sorry that at age 58 I apparently don’t have my shit together! I do. I have. And now I’m moving in another direction. It’s going to be a bit bold and maybe a bit uncomfortable. And, I know my girlfriends will be right there… They’ve got my back.
photo from Art.com