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March 1, 2010

Girlfriends and Mean Girls in Your Forties

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/girlfriends_and_mean_girls_in_your_forties_20100301/

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I have really lovely girlfriends.  Some are new to my life, and others I have known since childhood.  Some are truly a part of my family, and some are simply acquaintances.  Both my sisters have daughters, and I have many friends with daughters, and I think we all agree that raising girls is harder than boys.

The situations I face in raising a teenage son are a piece of cake compared to what parents of girls go through.  I remember being a teenager, and thinking some girls were mean.  You grow up though, and assume that stage is over, and that as adults, we will mature, and female friendships will get easier.  Not so much.

It turns out that girls can be mean spirited and hurtful, regardless of how old they are.  I know there are women who look back at their youth and see they were mean, and have transformed into wonderful women.  I imagine there are women who grew up as angels, who as adults changed, and became mean.

I’m not sure how it all works.  What I do know is that I value and respect women, and my relationships with them mean something to me.  With my sisters living so far away, and my son being my only family in Los Angeles, I rely on my girlfriends for many, many things.

We celebrate holidays together, we help with each others children, we listen when things are rough, we rejoice when things are good, we hold each other up in times that are challenging, and we manage to laugh through it all.  It is a bond that is uniquely female, and I treasure it.

I thought that friendships would be easier now in my forties, but that’s an unrealistic hope.  This weekend I was faced with some emotions in terms of a girlfriend, and it’s been a struggle.  In the end it will all be fine, but this morning I find myself looking at the girlfriend relationships of my forties, and wondering, why are women still so mean?

I have a couple of friends that I have known for 12 years.  At one point during our relationship we were as close as sisters.  I could not imagine loving these friends more.  Our kids were best friends and both the kids, and us, were the 3 musketeers.  We were together all the time, our children were like brothers, and we were a family.

Then another mother came into our group, and things shifted.  I don’t really remember what the turning point was, but at some point, she was in and I was out.  It was hard for me because they were my family, and I was ousted.  It was harder for my son, as he loved their kids, and when they stopped making an effort with me, they stopped making an effort for our kids too.

The last two years has seen our relationship go from everything to nothing.  I was going to see them as a party recently and was stressed out.  In anticipation of seeing them, I reached out to one and extended a hand.  It was awkward and sad, and the olive branch was not accepted.

The party was strained, these two women, who were my very best friends, were there, with the mean girl, and it was just like being back in 7th grade.  They both said hello, and when one hugged me and told me to come dance with them, I said no thank you, and then went in the bathroom to cry for 10 minutes.  Just seeing them broke my heart because I loved them so much.

I had sent a friend request on Facebook to one of the ladies around the beginning of the year.  I told her I missed her and hoped we could get back on track, but she never responded.  Then this weekend, weeks later, she accepted.  I was so surprised because out of nowhere, there she was.

I looked at her page and quickly discovered that the past weekend was her birthday.  I had totally forgotten.  I felt bad, and thought perhaps she accepted now, as her own way to reach out.  I would see it was her birthday, get in touch, and some healing could begin. 

As I read through her posts, I saw that she had a party for her birthday.  She talked about how she had a lovely evening with her friends.  I’m not surprised I was not invited to her birthday, I was surprised and sad however, that she felt the need to have me see all the emails.

There is no possible way that she could not know it would hurt my feelings.  Was she simply being a mean girl?  Was I being too sensitive?  Could she not have just called me?  Or sent an email to say hello?  Was it necessary to hurt my feelings?  Did she even know it would be so hurtful?

I could be reading way too much into it.  I could be ego driven in my thought process.  I love this woman, and miss her, but when I saw her Facebook page I declined the friendship request.  In the end I was the immature one, and went from being the discarded and hurt friend, to the mean girl, in the blink of an eye.

I feel terrible.  I woke up this morning feeling sad, anxious, embarrassed and confused.  I am going to try to find the courage to call her, and tell her I’m sorry.  I don’t know if we will ever be friends again, but what I do know, is she deserved my respect, and my bruised ego would not allow me to give it to her. 

Friendships take work, time and effort.  Girls are capable of having the closest bond between two people, yet are able to hurt each other in an instant.  We can grow up, move on, and have our own children, but at the end of the day we are all still little girls, just trying to get by.  Flailing around, rather than sailing through.

If my friend is reading this blog,  know that I think about you all the time.  I’m sorry for anything, and everything, I did to hurt our friendship, and I don’t what will happen down the road.  What I am certain of however, is that I love you, and I will keep the faith.

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