MORE ON THE POTENTIAL TRICKINESS OF FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS…or, "I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE."
I really want to thank all of you who chimed in over the past few days on my post about the sometimes tricky world of female friendships. What struck me most, reading your comments, were the recurrent themes of sadness, loss, and bewilderment—but mostly the shared sense of shame we all seem to feel at having lost (for whatever reasons) dear friends who were once threaded so intimately into our lives.
Reading all this has forced me to look more closely at my own stories, and to admit this curious new truth—that I honestly carry far more unexpressed shame over the loss female friendships than I feel over any loss of any romantic relationship with any man. Case in point: I have been willing to write very openly in the past about the end of romance, but I have never had the courage to write honestly about the end of friendship. Too shameful to discuss! Anytime I have lost a woman friend, it feels like SUCH a dark spot on my record as a human being! And the ghosts of those lost friendships keep me up at night far more than the memories of any men…and what's more, those ghosts keep me examining and re-examining how I could have done better (SHOULD have done better!), or should have known better, or should have tried harder, or should have spoken up sooner…so on, and so on, and so on.
But with all your comments, it has started to occur to me that maybe these ruptures between dear friends are, in fact, a normal thing in the lives of women (since all of us do seem to have gone through it at some point). Maybe the deep pain associated with those ruptures may simply be a side-effect of lives spent feeling things so deeply, caring so deeply, sharing so deeply, and sometimes (by natural extension) hurting so deeply.
I dunno. What do you guys think? And tell me—the mothers amongst you—do you help your daughters through such hard lessons, when you see it happening in their own lives?
Meanwhile…another book recommendation! Somebody posted a reference to this book, "Truth and Beauty" by my dear friend Ann Patchett, and I thought, "Yes!" No conversation about friendship (or, for that matter, co-dependency) would be complete without a mention of this stunning memoir—which is, among other things, a gorgeously written story about how devastatingly difficult it can be at times to let people be who they truly are (no matter how terribly self-destructive their actions may be) rather than trying to save them and fix them at every turn…
SO…curious to hear your thoughts, and thank you all for such honest and searching responses.
YOUR FRIEND (get it? see how I did that?)
Truth and Beauty
Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy's critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her ja…