The *real* problem with SATC

Last night I had to deal with some pretty tough Mom-stuff.  I have the greatest daughters ever, so this isn’t a common theme in my life…thankfully!

My oldest daughter is breathtakingly beautiful, sweet, kind, and intelligent…and she’s also shy and struggling to make friends.  I know at her tender age, having friends means everything.  One would rather have friends at this point in her life than eat or sleep.  It’s absolutely vital to life itself. I get that.  Dealing with this brought me to reflect deeply on the issue of friends and friendship.

In short, the issue is I don’t have any. And if I want to get real down and dirty honest with myself the ugly truth is I never have.

Sure, at any given point in my life (prior to this point, of course), I’ve been surrounded by friends and acquaintances.  My phone book is chock full of names and numbers ranging anywhere from the “chick I met in the bathroom at a bar” and got into a meaningful conversation with all the way to a few (a very few) people I’ve known for fifteen years or more.  I’ve had BFF’s whom I spent every waking moment with.  I’ve even had a few “fatal attraction friendships” where things got ugly when it was time to walk away from that person.  I’ve had co-workers who I went to Happy Hour’s with and discussed everything from what’s for dinner to their extra-marital affair.  I’ve had “activity buddies” who loved the beach or yoga or some other mutually adored pastime.  Other than a few times in my life (now being one of them), I’ve never had a shortage of people to call to hang out with or, more frequently, people who called me daily with their troubles (I’ve always,  ALWAYS been the “counselor” type).  I never minded that, I embraced it actually and felt I was maybe special because so many people trusted me with their important, heart-felt issues and turned to me in their time of need.   Awwwwww…  I even think it encouraged me to believe I  had some close ties with certain people in my life.  After all, they would share their dirtiest, most horrible inner secrets with me…that certainly must  mean we were friends, right?

No.  It meant I’m a friend.  It meant they recognized me as a caring, trustworthy person and felt comfortable turning to me in times of need.  It did not mean- and has never meant- that we were friends.

I get back to this realization anytime I happen upon that fantastical program Sex and the City.  As much as I heart that well-written and entertaining show, I avoid it!  Can you believe it?  And I mean avoid…like I avoid the-adopt-an-Ethiopian-child commercials…you know, the one’s that hurt to watch? I can hardly tolerate watching it (and have certain moments where I literally can NOT tolerate watching it) because it’s an absolute fantasy from my perspective; a fantasy along the lines of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella.  And here’s the thing, I’m not jealous of their cute clothes, their fun dating adventures, their gorgeous shoes, or their great careers…  I know those things are realistic and totally plausible in this world.  I enjoy that aspect immensely…to ponder the likes of living in a world where I might spend my mortgage payment on the. Most. Fabulous. Pair. Of. Shoes. EVER.    That’s not a pipe-dream; I know that actually happens.

It’s the friendship.  It’s the friendship these women share…  It’s truly akin to believing in Santa Claus for me.  I don’t typically avoid fairy tale type things.  I find them fun actually.  I love watching The Little Mermaid and letting myself get caught up for an hour or so in the far-fetched possibility of that being a reality.  The difference is that fairy tales are out of this world fantastical…they aren’t based on anything that could ever be authentically possible in this world.  And those are beautifully imaginative and refreshing thoughts to entertain for a period of time.  But the friendship:  the lasting, loyal, fun, loving, and practical friendship these women share is something that is theoretically possible.  Hell, it should exist and I imagine it does exist for some, but I have never seen it in real life, much less ever known it myself.  This is what makes this show too painful for me to watch.

As if the writer of that show (as well as the God of Universal timing) knew this excruciating fact,  I then was once cursed to see (of the very few episodes I actually watched through) the episode where Carrie contemplates relationships and soul mates.  Like a train wreck or a fantasy, I could not bring myself to look away or turn it off.  There it was in all its glory, …dumping pounds of salt in my open wounds:

And this made sense to me….but then it has always made sense to me.  Actually, if I had ever written it down as such, I could probably have claimed it was even my idea originally. I just never had that jealousy issue like other girls did.  Boys were boys, the would come and go or stay…whatever…  And I look how I look..take it or leave it…like it or hate it…  After the age of about 12, I never imagined the fairy tale prince sweeping me off my feet and rescuing me from the wicked step-mother or from some other evil force of nature.  Yeah sure, that sounded fun and romantic and all those great things, BUT…. I only dreamed of having close and authentic friends.  Real friends whom I could share life and troubles, happiness and tragedy, good fortune as well as bad…both mine and theirs.  That was what (and who) I hoped to have in my life someday when I got old and decrepit and reflected back on my life:  that would be my lifelong soul mate, not some Prince Charming or any other “prince” of whatever!  Although it was difficult to watch this show about a group of fun, fabulous and lasting friends even before I saw this specific episode, seeing this one just made it that much worse.  I love the show..I hated that show now!

 I’ve had this type of friendship on the one-way street thing, like an unrequited teenage crush…where I naively convinced myself it was real or at least was developing into a real and lasting friendship.  I merely had to “be the friend I wished to have” and surely some like-minded person would see the extraordinary friendship value in me and scoop me up to be friends forever

But wait….I am that friend.  Due to my early life-wisdom and perspectives on male-female relationships, I have always been that friend….and still,  I don’t have an Amanda or Samantha…a Carrie or a Miranda…much less, three or four!  Geesh, I can’t even fathom having one. To me, the concept of having even one genuine female friend is in the realm of the truly fantastical and imaginary

Oh I’ve had a few posers…  in fact, I’ve had at least three, and possibly up to as many as six over my lifetime.    Three females whom I actually felt that strong connection and imagined that it went beyond “friends”, but more like family.  Friends I would not have hesitated to donate a kidney, step in front of a speeding train, give up my job, my home, any money I might have, a man who loved me, men who liked me, whatever it took to preserve and nurture that friendship.  After all, at the end of the day and other than my children, that was the thing that would mean the most to me when all else was lost or gone. Right?  I’d have this beautiful friendship with this other person that stood the test of time and life, jobs and men, fashion changes and geographical moves…everything.  This was my “soul mate”… the only lasting thing in life one might ever have which is truly priceless, precious, and irreplaceable.

No.  Every single one of these friendships turned out to be merely a one-sided friendship of convenience; a relationship that would stay solid for as long as I could give..and give..and give…and one even turned out to be something far more sinister, but  I don’t  talk about that one at all..to anyone…ever…   I don’t even like to think about that one, as the pain from it, even though many years have passed, is still very raw and smacks me in the most tender and persistently innocent part of my soul.

..and here I am, in my late thirties, dealing with my daughter’s struggles with both finding friends in a new city and leaving a slew of BFF’s behind.  I worry about her as a mother will, but I mostly keep my jaded mouth shut and simply listen and try to offer hopeful insights that I had regarding friendship when I was her age.  

…when I realize last night that from elementary years through college the issue always was “jealousy”.  Females really are challenged with the sad and destructive jealousy gene.  So, in those early years, they’re jealous –  of your hair, your clothes, maybe your intelligence or how much money your parents have.  In your later 20’s and 30’s, it turns into more of a man-jealousy thing, like friendships have a competitive edge for all the women in the world who grew up waiting for their Price Charming…and this earlier jealousy thing gets an additional razor’s edge…the fear that any other female might intentionally or otherwise, steal her chance with her Prince  …so then that obstacle is added to the rest of the jealousy box from the earlier years.  And authentic female relationships become even more difficult or impossible. 

Suddenly you’re in your late 30’s and  you think, Hey, cool…maybe it kinda sucks getting older, BUT  now we’re all  wiser; past all the competitive man-stuff, the awkward insecurities, the jealousy issues, and the life fears which  have plagued and prevented friendship up until now… 

 

Except, we are not. The divorce rate and the common theme of infidelity in relationships make some of these things still huge issues for many women even at the time in life when it “shouldn’t” be a thought anymore.  These elements keep the jealousy-thing in place even at this “wise” time when we’re otherwise mostly secure (or at least comfortable) with ourselves and our lives.  Then, you realize that friendships take years to nurture and grow into an authentic depth of affection.  So now, we have ALL the issues from elementary years on through, further complicated by the fact that if you haven’t already been fortunate enough to have at least one friendship which survived all those earlier obstacles and stood strong, you’re now hit with the challenge that women (and people in general) tend to be more jaded and cynical about life and people and far less trusting overall.  Thus, at this age, they’re often now far less likely to even extend that arm of friendship out to another female at all.  I mean we’re not really clubbing anymore and looking for girls to dance with us or going to football games on Friday night and wanting someone fun to sit with at the game.  We’re okay to go shopping by ourselves, go to the gym on our own, maybe even go to the movies or out for a drink by ourselves (GASP!…something we never would have done in our 20’s).

I remember my mother once telling me, “Kay, if you find even one real and solid friendship in your lifetime, you should consider yourself lucky”.   So, as I go through this hardship and heartache with my oldest daughter, I find myself faced with all of these thoughts and realizations as I’m desperately seeking words of consolation and hope to give her.  I certainly can’t borrow these words of wisdom from my mother to hand down to her, in spite of the fact that I fully realize how right-on she was; because I’m still facing the hard fact that I wasn’t one of the “lucky ones”.

Me watching SATC!

…and I’m sure you can find the irony in the situation when after I tucked my tearful and heartbroken daughter in bed last night,  after hours of heart-to heart discussion, I came in my room to see those damned SATC ladies on my television!  Those damned wenches…they really do have everything!

Ugh!

18 responses to “The *real* problem with SATC

  1. Engaging but sad post – I can relate to this somewhat. In fact, I might be slightly in denial as to the extent to which I can relate to this.

  2. Thank you for reading & commenting Matt!! I agree, it *is* sad..and it’s definitely hard for me to admit & face as well…particularly when I think of the long, long, LONG list of “friends” I have or have had in the past..then, it makes me feel like more of a failure than my divorce even does! I always knew relationships were tough, but I had no real concept of how difficult enduring and genuine friendships were. Much like good, healthy romantic relationships, the good ones just don’t come around very often!
    ..and Ive always sterotyped this as merely a female issue too…I never realized men might have a similar challenge! I really appreciate your sharing on this..it helps to think I’m not the only one who struggles with this reality!
    xo♥

  3. I can relate to this in a very similar way…although I wish that it was that I had hot friends with nice racks.

    I haven’t been around here much, but my personality is just as you read it on these pages. My “circle” is full of casual acquaintances…and has always been like that. I listen, and many times, fix the problems of others but never have found someone that I could allow to help me at all.

    It has concerned me greatly on and off over these years. I know it is my issue and it is nothing that a few years of therapy, to include heavy medication, could probably fix. Not “trusting” someone is the root of it all…

    This has turned into a rambling reply…I think you get it.

    • Rambling? Nahhh…Interesting? Yes!! I am fascinated to learn that men really do go through a similar challenge. I feel ridiculous now that I didn’t have any idea…. My issue I think has been the opposite…give all and totally trust a person..give chance after chance (clearly showing desperation, right?…then hang for it later AND kick yourself for being such a naive nincompoop (had to throw that in..it’s my giggle word of the day 😉 )
      So, *therein* was my “problem” up til now..and after hanging so many times and paying exhorbant prices for my overly trusting nature, I now think I’ve finally leaned toward the other side..your side…the “I’m scared sh*tless to trust *any* one at all now” side. I’m not sure I’m even able to develop a friendship like this now at all bc I’ve wasted too much of my time, resources and energy on manipulative people…I just might be one of “those” people now..ughhh…double ughh..the one thing I swore I’d NEVER be…
      So, if you find the medication and therapist that effectively eliminates said trust issues, please share the info!!!! That is, if you’re able to type on the plethora of medication it prob requires or think clearly after the massive therapy hours clocked in 😉
      xo♥

      • I “arrived” in my situation via some “odd” parenting situations…but have avoided ANY medication and only a few brief therapy sessions as a child. “Funny” is my medication…even to a point where I have begun performing on stage.

    • PS
      OHHH….the horrible challenge of having great friends with great racks….yeah..that would *so* just suck for you E…hehe 😀

      • While I am hoping for friends…we should also give them “other” redeeming qualities.

      • I’ve worked for years w/ children and various issues they have from “parenting tactics” and other things… I don’t fear medication either, hell, I’d try anything to better cope with this kind of thing! I’m not too proud to admit that..it’s been a life-long issue and my enduring optimism w/it seems to have taken a dive off the Stratosphere.
        I’m so excited that you’re performing!!!!!!! GOSH! That’s AWESOME! You truly are hysterically funny so I think you’ll do fabulously…it’s so exciting!!

  4. I can completely relate. I have blogged about this before and mentioned it in a post this week again. I sum it up as I am like a popular cheerleader, everyone knows of me but few actually know me for the person I really am. I am still holding strong to being that great person and friend I want someone else to do for me.

    • Fire, I agree….I’ll never let any of this change my values AS a friend – if I’m going to be your friend, then you can bet your a*# I’m a real one…I don’t have the time or energy to fake it like I did in my 20’s (putting up with horrible women just to have the “big group of BFF’s” around), but it’s certainly made me more pessimistic and overly careful about even letting someone BE my friend..or know the me that I keep inside. I was very similar to the way you describe it..to the point thatc many people who know me would probably laugh at this post and say, “OMG…but you have TONS of friends!??!!”
      Nope. I’ve just had lots n lots of ppl in my life who were willing to take my offering of friendship or acquintances who liked hanging out with me in public for various reasons, but really none who returned the gift..and that’s just not friendship!

  5. I wrote a similar blog, never posted it, I didn’t want to offend “friends”, especially one friend who has been nothing but my soulmate. I call her my “wifey” and we say if we liked the cooch, we’d be married to each other. She is the only friend I have who truly cares when I’m upset, every time, she is there for me, no matter how minor. My other friends pretty much come running to me for every problem, live with me when their husbands beat them and they leave, when they need to cry and don’t want anyone to see, or want any kind of advice. But, if I’m upset more than a day, only one person is there for me, my wifey, my soulmate.

    I’ve been like you, I give and give and give, it’s who I am. I’m codependent, it’s what makes me a great nurse. In fact, most nurses are like this. We give and don’t expect much in return. In my life, I’ve given to so many people only to find out when I’m in crisis, need someone to talk to, no one is there to listen. I’m grateful for my “wifey”, she is always there, and I do believe she will always be there, because she is like me, and rarely gets anything in return for her friendship, and doesn’t expect much. It’s nice to appreciate when it comes back to you for once. I don’t like to think that much like the one other friend in my life I’ve had like her, she will disappear some day. My friend of 10 years, bff for life, wouldn’t return my calls after I moved. It really broke my heart.

    As for the group of friends thing, I’ve never experienced it working either, there is always one who is jealous of another and talks behind someone’s back until it gets back to them, and the whole thing blows up and you have to take sides. There is always one of those girls who is selfish, and nasty, and jealous and ruins it all for everyone. I know, I have been asked to take sides by her on more than one occasion. She tells me my other friend isn’t a good friend to me, but that other friend doesn’t ask me to pick, call me names when she’s drunk, or avoid me for a month when I’m depressed. Good girlfriends are hard to come by, real friends, and you are right, it takes years to develop into that. SATC isn’t real, hell, I don’t know any women who date like that, I know gay men who do, but more women are like Charlotte than like Samantha, and I doubt in real life, the two would be friends, much less soulmates. So go on hater! Hate away… I still love the show, but I love Carrie, she’s a nice middle ground, she in a way, reminds me of me, just more successful, and a lot skinnier… too skinny! ;P

  6. Well girl, I’d say you’re definitely one of the “lucky” ones then!! Maybe there’s hope for me yet…at this rate, if all goes perfectly(and C’MON?!?), I’ll have a “Beaches” friendship when I’m about 80…

    coz I know damn well, I won’t be like those SATC chicks and have THREE of them…GAWDDDD 😉

    • Well I look at it like this, I’m not too lucky, she lives in Cali, so we never see each other, I’m trying to go visit soon, but she has a back problem and sick animals right now, she can’t afford a ticket or sit on a plane that long to come see me any time soon.

      Funny way we met was through another group of friends that we all met years ago on myspace, in a dog group, we splintered off and made our own group of girlfriends. It was about 20 or so girls. Of course, what is left after all the mean girls ruined it, is one small group of friends (who do meet in person frequently) of about 6 people. Of which I am not in anymore because of one mean girl who has at least once a year eliminated someone from the group. My wifey isn’t in the group either because when it was my turn for “elimination” she stood by me, not the psycho. I’m still friends with all but the mean girl. I don’t get to go to all the group parties a few times a year like the rest, but when I’m up in New England I do get together with a few.

      I had another group of friends that included a bipolar pot head who didn’t take meds, she ruined that! I went running for the hills after a trip to FL with 12 of us went horribly wrong. Put an alcoholic and the bipolar girl in one house, it was bound to get ugly. I removed myself from that group of volatile friends.

      Female groups rarely work out. There is always a mean one, a crazy one, and a victim. I’m usually the victim because I feel sorry for the sociopath mean one, like a sucker. Now I just don’t get involved in group friendships like that. See… not so lucky. Still not 3 soul mates. Just the one, my wifey, who I never get to see. BTW, it’s her chicken on my “about me” page. 😉

      • Ughh..sounds like some real ugly issues..yeah, I’ve had my share of those..and now, I run like hell when I even think that’s going on. I’m better off w/no friends than a bunch of crazy mean backstabbing spirit squashing chicks (those seem to be the types I attract too..yukk)
        ..and while I think it sucks that your wifey is so far away, I think you’re neglecting to see that you’re just fortunate to have a soul friend!! I don’t know what it feels like to know someone (near or far) is out there..somewhere..caring about me..and I imagine it must be a warm and cozy feeling to know there’s someone who is just a phone call away… That’s good stuff for those of us who don’t have one @ all. Plus, now there’s no long distance charges either..back in the day, a friendship at such distance was *really* impossible…
        I’m sorry she’s far away…that must be hard, but just trying to remind you of the big positives of the sitch 🙂 xo♥

  7. I feel like I am exceptionally lucky on the friend front. I have different circles of friends from college, from work, and my general NYC peeps that I feel like I can rely on and lean on if I need to. And vice versa, they know that they can call at 3am and I’ll be by their side.

    My very best friend is from college. We were in the same major/classes, the same sorority, shared a sick love for the movie Xanadu and all things sparkly. We’ve always said we shared a brain. We can finish eachothers sentences and look at eachother and know exactly how the other is feeling or what they are thinking. I think she felt (and still feels) the pain of my breakup worse than I did. I can’t imagine life without her, but she lives up in CT with her hubby and toddler and our face to face times are limited.

    My friends in NY are a different circle and it is a very wide circle, with many different smaller circles within. My closest friend of this circle lives 3 blocks from me, so we have become very close. We are a three minute walk from one another if we need a shoulder to cry on or someone to share a bottle of wine with. Can’t tell you how many times we’ve cried in each others arms for various reasons. Or shared our triumphs.

    I am so grateful for the large NYC group, but sometimes the pettiness within one of the circles is way too high school like for me. I’m constantly reminding people to ignore what this person says or what that person does. Luckily for my own sanity, I am not particularly close to that group.

    True blue friendships are like the rare jewel (so corny, I know). Precious and invaluable. And they don’t come by every day. I’m blessed beyond belief of the close girlfriends I have that I’ve known for 10+ years.

    Kay, you will be a lucky one, I’ve no doubt. At all.

    • Okay Amy..now I’ve turned my green eye of jealousy toward you!!!! How fabulous that you’ve such a diverse group and a true soul-friend for so long too!!! Seriously woman, if you start a reality show about this, I’m not gonna be able to watch it! 😉
      Friendships are the rare jewel….hell, I can’t even BUY one of those, much less get lucky enough to stumble upon one!
      Thanks for your confidence that I will…it *really* brightened my day and my thinking on this ongoing and hurtful situation! It also helps me to have a few positive experiences I can relay to my daughter, even if they’re not my own! xo♥

  8. I, too, can relate to what you are going through. I am in the same boat, but at least now I know other people that took on similar roles earlier in life are going through the same thing. I don’t know many people in this town I’m living in now. In terms of past friends, I was also the shoulder to lean on. I was the advice person. Now, most of my friends have lives of their own and everyone is scattered across the country. We know each other by way of Facebook these days, but that’s about it. What good friendships I had are now occasional messages once every six months or so inviting me to travel hours and hours, time I do not really have. I wouldn’t call any of them a best friend. Not now. Not then. I do have a couple of people in my life that I’ve met online. They are worthwhile people to know. One is older and one is much younger. Both give me good advice. I’m glad I have them to turn to. I’m still the authority more often than not, so when I need help, I have to look inside myself for answers. Yes, it’s getting to be awfully lonely. Meeting people isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. All those simple solutions are not options for me right now. I’d recommend something like Meetup, but my regional offerings are quiet or completely unrelated to my interests. I don’t know how useful it would be to anyone, actually. Onward and upward, I say, although I’m finding I say it with a much more somber tone these days.

    • Born, I’m so glad you commented! I think I look inside myself for most answers to issues anyway as well- I’ve never been one to lean too much on others, but it sure is nice to even just bounce em off another human being out loud once in awhile…or gosh, just know there’s someone you *could* if you wanted, even if you choose not to!
      Dating is sure hard and making friends seems even harder than that in many ways. My “friends” have always had far more power to hurt me in life than any of my dates, boyfriends or husband did..that makes friendship an even greater struggle to me than the dating thing. Trust is essential..and like a jaded “dater”, once its been taken so many times…does it ever come fully n completely back? I really don’t know…
      I did just recently(yesterday..lol) sign up for Meetup! I’m at least lucky there are tons of groups here and lots to do. I don’t know if I’ll make any real or enduring friends that way, but at least I’ll have options for socializing w/other adults..yayy!! Thanks for the heads-up on that!
      BTW, I’m sending positive thoughts and vibes in plenty directly your way, my friend 🙂

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