Monday, May 23, 2011

I don't like the look of her...

I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately. New, old, lifelong, fleeting. I was listening to my mother-in-law and her friend talking the other night about how cliquish girls can be. The girls they were talking about were 4. My own 4-year-old is not: Cliquish, that is. She plays at school with her cousin, who happens to be a boy, her best friend, and who she wants to marry: "Why CAN'T cousins get married?"

Friendship is hard for girls. Woman-to-woman interactions are difficult from the moment we're born. We have all seen mothers, who compete with their daughters. It's deplorable and pathetic, but it happens. I have heard stories of mothers sleeping with their daughters' boyfriends. I have watched mothers demean their daughters and wondered if they knew that for the rest of her life she would hear that voice in the back of her head telling her she wasn't good enough? I am sure they know; they probably still hear their own mothers' voices in their heads.

Even if girls have a great relationship with their moms, once they actually start interacting with other girls? Ay yi yi. I remember having a "friend" when I was little (4 or 5) who only played with me when her other friend wasn't around. I was the "back-up friend," I guess. The days when her other friend came, she would ignore me. If I tried to play with them, she would make fun of me tell me I couldn't. I would cry. Once, at a McDonald's play area, a little girl told Lily she couldn't go in a certain area. Lily shoved her down and went in anyway. But literally for MONTHS afterwards, she would say, "Why was that little girl mean to me?" She couldn't imagine why some girl who never met her would be so mean. Well...imagine.

I have seen girls of all ages and sizes look down their noses at my daughters and me. I have had my own heart hurt and watched my daughters get theirs hurt by these girls who disliked us for whatever reason. As one of my best friends says, women sometimes just look at another woman and don't "like the look of her." This friend  is stunningly beautiful inside and out. So is her daughter. People have disliked them simply because God blessed the world with their presence. I thank God for bringing them into my life.

I have spent a good part of my life trying to make people like me. The people who all ready like me tell me to stop. Sometimes it frustrates them how much energy I spend trying to make people like me. My husband once told me, about a person who didn't like me, "She hates you because she can't BE you." I try not to try so hard anymore. I try not to get my feelings hurt when people don't like me. But last night I cried myself to sleep because some "friends" decided to dislike Chloe. Because she's blonde? Because she's beautiful? Because she's skinny? Because she has big boobs? Because she's brilliant and talented and loving and special? I don't know why.

I do know why, actually. Because of all of those things. I have told her her whole life to be kind, compassionate, and to live with integrity. She does. She lives what she is. She's not "lucky" she's got a great body; she runs every single day. Yes, she was gifted with a brilliant mind, but she also tries very hard to learn new things and expand her mind. From the time she was a tiny girl, when someone didn't like her, I would ask her if she'd done anything to them. No? Well, then they're just jealous.

There are a few people in my life who just don't like me. For no apparent reason. I've asked my friends, their friends, mutual friends, "Why doesn't she like me?" I even asked the one woman to her face what I had done to make her dislike me so vehemently. She couldn't answer. She said that I was imagining it. She liked me. Then she carried on passive-aggressively being my friend.

Friendship is hard for girls. It's hard figuring out who is your real friend. It doesn't go away when you're grown either. I thought it had when I found a new group of girlfriends in my 30's. Until one day I walked into the room to find them talking about me. Perfect. So now, I stick with my friends I've had forever, and a few new ones I've been blessed to meet along the way, who I know are lifetime friends. I wish my girls would never have to struggle with this, but they do and they will. I pray for God to make an easier way for them. I pray that I will set a better example. I pray that they won't let too much of their self-worth get wrapped up in others' opinions of them. I pray and pray and pray.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Facebook=High School

Most of us have probably thought it. I have had numerous conversations about it. Surely more than one of my status updates have reflected it. Facebook is like virtual high school. While my high school experience was not detrimental to my mental health and resulted in a 16+-year-marriage and several enduring friendships, let me be really clear: I have no desire to repeat it.

Unlike high school, Facebook's playing field is more level. There aren't cool kids, burnouts, nerds, and so forth. There isn't Harding and Reserve, the eastsiders, the westsiders, the Panthers, Raiders, and Ranthers. While the school consolodation may have traumatic for some, it worked well for me. We won the state championship, and some of my best friends, and my husband, were westsiders.

Initially, I opened a facebook account so I could look at pictures of my darling niece, Jinju, but it is in that aforementioned optimistic spirit that I accepted nearly every friend request I got, unless I had no idea who the person was or if the requester was a porn star. Again, am I the only one who gets friend requests from porn stars? Historically, I didn't "defriend" anyone unless a person just blatantly didn't like me, or as in one actual case, spread lies about my family.

Since joining Facebook, I have enjoyed reconnecting with so many people from my past. I have enjoyed seeing my peers grown up, seeing friends' pregnant bellies, and sweet babies, and children who look just like their parents did 20 years ago. I found my best friend from junior high, with whom I'd lost touch. Turns out she is still my best friend. Twenty-five years, moves across the country, countless friends who have come and gone, marriages, divorces, and deaths, and she is still my best friend. And we still have the same boyfriends as we did 15 and 20 years ago, respectively. I wonder how many of the girls, who talked shit about us in high school can say that.

In answer to, "Where have you been? I never see you on Facebook anymore." I haven't gone anywhere, really. I am grateful I made it through high school intact. I pray that my kids make it through--Chloe's almost done. But I have no desire to experience it again. And for those "friends" who wanted to see my life: Here it is. I have aged, gained weight and gotten wrinkles, but I don't look drastically different. I have three kids, and their dad (all three because, yes, people have asked) is the same guy I "hearted" on my notebooks 20 years ago. I still heart him.

If I said your kids are cute, I think they are. If I commented on your posts, I meant it. If I said you look great, I really think you do--honestly, there must have been something in the water at old WGH because most of the people I have seen from high school look really good. My point: If I say something on Facebook, I really mean it. I am not trying to get your vote for homecoming queen. I am not trying to be someone I'm not; this is really who I am.

And to those who continue to judge me based on who I was 20 years ago? You are right. I am still the same person, with a few changes. I won't talk about you behind your back; I will say it to your face, but I will nearly always choose to be kind even at the expense of honesty. If you talk about me or flirt with my husband, I won't fight. I really don't care what people say about me, and I love that people find my husband attractive. He's incredibly sexy and his lips are unrivaled by any white man I've met. All that aside, if you look cross-eyed at my kids, I will unapologetically go crazy on your ass.