Less than a month ago I joined a Facebook group to discuss a shared interest in the Dr Phil Housewives series. I expected to be able to talk about the six women there, who had opened up their lives and problems on national television, in hopes of finding solutions and making peace with the past. I found plenty of topics to discuss and I also unexpectedly found myself making about a dozen new Facebook friends. Several of these women, although we are virtual strangers, have said some very kind things to me and seemed to intuitively “know” me. This gave me pause to think.
I have had three “best” friends, at different times, since 1978. I met them all when each of them was going through some kind of difficult time and, my nature being what it is, I naturally jumped in to help, encourage, support and help them get through it. I was there for them literally 24/7 for years. I went above and beyond what most friends would do, even at my own expense. Then things fell apart. Their problems solved, their lives changed, they found other friends and I wasn’t needed or valued any more. They distanced themselves from me, but not entirely. I went from being the best friend you talk with every day, to a “stew” friend,a term my daughter’s friend made up, to describe people who put you on the back burner on a low heat until they need you. My last friendship of ten years ended September 2009 when it was literally making me ill to continue in it and depressed when I ended it. No more “best” friends for me.
I think to myself, after hearing what these new friends have to say about me, how is it that people who I have not even met or done anything for, can see things in me from three weeks of posting comments that these “best friends” no longer do or maybe never did? I have to accept some of the responsibility and reexamine my part in these failed relationships. I hear Dr Phil’s mantra “You teach people how to treat you” over and over in my head. I think in my putting them and their needs always above my own, I may have taught them that my needs and I don’t matter. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll meet Dr Phil and ask him.
Meanwhile, these very kind women have opened my eyes and given me a new appreciation for myself. Maybe “best” friends aren’t all they are cracked up to be? Maybe they drain the life out of you and then move on? Maybe I’ll continue to surround myself with a warm circle of friends who are very much like myself: intelligent, compassionate, caring, nurturing people, from now on. These are the friends who helped me get through this past year of very hurtful disappointment and depression. I survived, I’m making new friends and I’m looking forward instead of backward.
The Dr. Phil show opened this Facebook page for real housewives to discuss the problems of his “Housewives,” but I’m not sure anyone realized the bonding and friendship that would occurred on that page in just a few short weeks. Who knows how many valuable friendships might be made by the end of the series in May? Who knows how many of us will be helped by a kind word, advice or prayers said on our behalf for one reason or another? I see the seeds of many new friendships being planted every day and I look forward to watching them grow and blossom.
Women can be amazing. They will reach out to family, friends and even strangers in distress and try to help in any way they can for no other reason than they care and empathize. They just want to make things better for everyone who touches their lives. And they do.
P.S. I must add that my daughters will complain that this blog is not a "pet peeve," therefore I must clarify for their benefit that I am complaining about "best" friends, while appreciating "virtually" real friends!