At the end of her essay, she says this:
How do you feel about female relationships? Do you have them?Do you want them? Are they satisfying? Are you afraid of them because you’ve been hurt? All of the above?
And so now I know what I'm going to write about; I'm officially inspired.
In high school, I felt like I related to boys better than girls. I had girlfriends, close ones, but there was always a sense of being judged by them - like I needed to measure up to be worthy of their friendship. In moments of crisis, we'd declare our undying love and devotion to one another, but when the smoke cleared and the dust settled, petty jabs and sly barbs were thrust my way under the guise of "I'm just kidding" and "I'm only joking", delivered in such a way that forced me to either laugh along or look like a crybaby who made a big deal out of nothing. My guy friends, though, they didn't say mean things to me, ever. They took me to movies and to the park to swing on the swings at 10 o'clock, or to the 24-hour Wal-Mart or Meijer to walk the aisles because there wasn't anything else for a teenager to do that was free. They let me drive their parents' cars before I even had a learner's permit and they let me control the radio station and sometimes they paid for my Subway or McDonald's or Krispy Kreme too. I had a boyfriend, though, so they never tried to kiss me or touch me or made me uncomfortable in any way. We were just friends, and they liked me just the way I was. They talked to me about history and philosophy and religion and life; my girlfriends talked about each other and boys.
When I became an adult, I learned I was a serial monogamist; I go from one long term relationship to the next, with an appropriate grieving period between each beau, of course. And when I'm in a relationship, boy am I in it. It's all-consuming for me; I live and breathe my man, and put him first in almost all things. Between that little piece of psychosis and my own personal narcissism, I've never left a lot of time for developing and maintaining relationships with women. I become a social butterfly when I'm single, and can quickly develop a mixed social network of acquaintances, but I stop nurturing those relationships as soon as I get into a relationship with a man. I don't cut off all contact or anything, but I stop making plans, or I want to drag the boyfriend out with me everywhere I go, or he isn't feeling well so I need to stay home to take care of him. I don't make the women in my life enough of a priority. I wonder if this is because I felt like I wasn't a priority for my girlfriends when I was growing up? I felt like the guys were there for me, but often felt like an outsider or nuisance for my girlfriends.
I have managed to not completely drive a way a few remarkable women, though. I wonder a lot why Sarah still bothers with me, or how Maggie can be so sweet to me despite my flightiness. And Kim puts up with some of the most amazingly vicious moodswings. Stacy is family and has to love me, but even that blood bond we share doesn't explain how kind and good and supportive she is to me. And of course, my Momma. And really, now that I think about it, there are about a dozen or so other women who I know love me, just the way I am, and who even accept the majority of my crazy. I've got a good network of women in my life, now, somehow, as a 30 year old woman who doesn't often leave the house and will still choose to stay home with a sick boyfriend over going out for wine night. I'm obviously both the luckiest woman alive and insane.
I have some close male friends, but I wouldn't say that I gravitate toward men more than women these days. I find it easier to get to know men initially - they, as a sex, seem to never worry about how they're being perceived or worry that there's some aspect of their personality they should keep under cover. Men will willingly share racist or sexist jokes, expecting to to laugh along with them. Women keep their cards closer to the vest; they're constantly aware of the image they're presenting, the things they're saying, the personality traits they're willing to allow you to see. In this way, I guess I've become more of a man, but without the ____-ist jokes. I am who I am, and knowing I'm loved, just as I am, by some amazing men and women, that gives me the strength to say "love it or leave it" to the rest of the world.
I'm not afraid of women any more. I was, once, I guess. I cowed and bent to their will and tried to be what they wanted me to be. I wasn't happy, though, and for a long time I think part of me believed I could never be completely myself, completely who I am, completely happy if I was going to be a good friend to another woman. Like part of me had to be what she wanted it be; like I'd always have to hide alway part of who I was, so I could fit the image of what she thought I should be. I know better now.
My instinct right there, just now, was to say it was Jimi who taught me I can be loved being just who I am, but that's not true. I taught me that; my girlfriends, the ones who love me here, now, as I am, they taught me that.
I felt a little twinge in my heart as I read Glennon's description of the memories that can flood past when she looks at one of her girlfriends she's known since college. I imagined that my high school girlfriends and I would have those same reminiscent moments over the years, and when I think of what might have been...but it's not to be. Our paths have long-since forked. Like everything else in my life, that part didn't turn out the way I'd expected; nothing is as I thought it would be.
The most surprising part of realizing my life is the opposite of what I'd imagined is realizing I like this version better than the one I thought I wanted.