Musings on womens’ friendships in midlife


road-tripOne of life’s truths for me is that women flourish in the friendship of other women. If we’re lucky we’ll have at least one person we feel comfy enough with to share our vulnerabilities and celebrate our successes and triumphs and for some of us it is a long time coming. The thing I love most about mid life is the dropping of the pressures especially where friendships are concerned. When we begin to grow into who we really are the need to impress and comparison fade – it’s feels to me that we want to see past the outer veneer into the heart of those we choose to associate with.

 

 

Do you envy those women with large social groups all dolled up and out for a good time? I have to admit I look at them sometimes and think it might be nice but the likelihood of me being a part of something like that is slim at best because as a card carrying introvert it ain’t ever going to happen baby!

 

Just because you were lonely once …

 

In my own world I find it kinda miraculous that it’s possible to transform from an isolated wallflower to a comfy in your own skin woman who sees making friends and acquaintances a joy rather than a trial I’m bound to fail at. What I learned is that all friendships are unique, and even though they serve different purposes every one of them needs to be loved and nurtured like flowers to ensure they last year on year. And actually it’s only once we come to love ourselves that we’re able to appreciate the depth of the relationships available to us.

 

As with so many things in life I was a late starter …

What do I mean by that?

 

Well I was mostly the kid who stood on the periphery in school. I never possessed the social skills and being the sprog of a less than conventional family it was never easy to fit in.  (Southerners with no extended family living in a council house in the middle of a mining community with a mostly absent abusive father who’s behaviour had to be kept under wraps as best we could.) It kind of puts you in a place of hiding and pretense because you want to be like everyone else but actually you don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of it ever happening. I continually felt like I had my nose pressed up against a window pane looking in on what I perceived to be everyone else’s perfect families and friendship circles. Being an introvert, and having no clue what that meant at the time wasn’t helpful either. The saving grace was having a natural artistic ability so that used to earn me Brownie points. What I longed for though was the best friend so many girls seemed to have – especially the one’s who owned ponies and pianos or who’d parents happened to own a shop. And it’s only now, when I speak to other women that I realise I was not alone in this feeling of separation and the longing for a special connection. Some of the loveliest females I know tell me how it has taken until midlife for them revel in the company and connection of women they have craved all their lives.

 

It can get easier

 

The thing is that if you’ve struggled with making and maintaining friendships through the years there’s an abiding fear that it will be more difficult as we age and life circumstances change. So many of us lose our confidence and identity when we become all things to all people in our family units. We become ‘over givers’ oft losing the ability to receive for ourselves. We work so hard at making those dynamics work it can be hard to keep up with existing friends whether they be life long or specific to the stage we happen to be going through.

 

It takes an  long time to grow an old friend

 

As we grow older the true friendships become more clearly defined. We go through life transitions – children growing up and away, loss of a partner, aging parents, illness, and more – and if we’re fortunate enough to have them the comfort and familiarity of long-term friendships is a wonderful thing. It’s like we come to a point in our lives where we become more discerning. We decide that quality trumps quantity any day. By  ejecting or keeping those who are destructive or superficial on the periphery, we value the meaningful friendships even more. And whilst there is always room for new friends and acquaintances, there is nothing like knowing we have a few true close friends who will be there for us through thick and thin. From my own experience of being the friend in need a couple of years ago it turned out to be, and continues to be, one of the most life affirming experiences ever.

 

So with this abiding belief of ‘What goes around comes around’ … always … I have learned that an expression of self love involves lowering the barriers and taking a chance to allow lovely people into my life. Like everything else, some we win some we lose

 

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person”.

 

How about you?

 

What do your friends mean to you?  Have you changed over the years?

Is it easier now for you to make and maintain friendships and new friends?

 

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