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.

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