15 January, 2007

Reader Requests: Breaking up Is Hard to Do

I hope you’ll understand, but today I’m going to put Martha on the sideburner to address a reader request. Read ahead and I’m sure you’ll understand. Someone out there needs some girlfriend help and monogram momma is not about to abandon a fellow mom and heartbroken girlfriend.

Anonymous said:
Have been reading your site for a while and appreciate your humor and dedication to family. I need a little advice...I am also a SAHM, 6 y/o daughter and twin girls who are five (yes, I am busy). Husband has big desk and big job. I rely on friends for support. But I feel two friends slipping away. They socialize without me and the daily phone calls to each other are happening less and less. This is BREAKING MY HEART. I have tried to be subtle in asking if I have offended anyone but they insist nothing is wrong, obviously something is off. I really don't want to lose these friends. I am 41 y/o and true friends are few at this age. Please...send some age advice.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and really appreciate your question. And candor for that matter. Doesn’t growing up really stink sometimes? And it’s especially hard to maintain close girlfriend relationships especially once we throw a few kids into the mix because life just get so crazy busy. Don’t I know it. It almost makes me think 7th grade catfights and note passing were just a foreshadowing of things to come. I mean, why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t women be nice to one another? I suppose that’s the million dollar question. But I assure you, you are not alone.

About 10 months ago I went through this exact same thing. I mean EXACT. It was devastatingly heartbreaking so I completely know what you are feeling right now. And it makes it so much worse when the friends won’t respect you enough to tell you what is wrong or why they seem to be shutting you out. For nearly a year there were three of us that were inseparable (as were our children), and then all of the sudden, like you mentioned, phone calls were coming to a halt, I was being excluded from things, and Mr. Monogram & I were being excluded from couples get-togethers also with this group. To make matters worse, when I asked one of the girls what was going on and let her know my feelings were really hurt, she just tried to blow it off and make up one lie after another (and I think you know how I feel about lying). That was the other thing. They were not only excluding me, but then lying about what they had done too. Like they were sneaking around. And I suppose that was the party that really hurt the most. Talk about kicking a dog when she’s down!

To me, I look for the same thing in a friend that I would in a mate or someone I would have a relationship with. Honesty, integrity, loyalty, sense of humor, values, someone who’s down to earth, someone who I can respect and will respect me back, someone I can count on, etc. Those things are equally as important and double sided in a friendship I think. I mean, it’s not fair to expect those things of other people if they can’t expect them from you. And if you can’t count on your friends having your back and looking past a few of your imperfections, then really, are they truly your friends? The answer is no. Sometimes it just takes us women a little while to figure that out about people.

So just like breaking up in a relationship deserves an explanation, so does breaking up or severing a friendship. These girls should have enough respect for you to tell you what is wrong. Even if they just want space. They owe that to you as a friend. Wouldn’t you rather know and be hurt than not-know and just continue to be excluded? The pain just drags out forever, like slowly ripping off a bandaid as opposed to just quickly ripping it off. Unfortunately, some people, as was the case with these friends of mine, don’t know how to handle mature adult, friendly confrontation. And instead of being able to talk to me about it and accept their responsibility of how they were mistreating me, they decided to bury their heads in the sand and just avoid the whole situation all together and insist nothing was wrong (yeah, right). After a few whole-hearted attempts on my behalf really honestly talking to one of the girls (the follower, we’ll call her) and getting absolutely nowhere (sure, she would apologize but how sincere is it when she turns around and excludes me and lies to me a few days later and then stops communicating with me?), I just decided that I had to protect myself and my own feelings, and quietly pull myself away and stop calling. Naturally, they never called me either. It was the only thing left to do, since they’d made me feel like they didn’t need my friendship anymore anyway. They had already done an excellent job of pushing me away (not calling, returning calls, or being invited to do things will do that, no?), it’s just that I wasn’t ready to accept it because I really counted and relied on these relationships and wasn’t ready to bid them farewell. If I did that, then it meant I would be alone and lonely again with no *real* local friends and would be right back to where I started when I moved here (which essentially consisted of accosting moms at the park who seemed friendly and had nice children the mini’s ages).

In my case, there was one girl who was the ring leader and the other who you can tell, has never been anything other than a follower her whole life (which is the last thing you could ever say about monogram momma, that’s for sure). Why would that change in adulthood? Well, it doesn’t for those people who can’t seem to think or do anything on their own and always need the approval of someone else. And the “ring leader” gal was the type who is always looking for the next best thing. They type who thinks the grass is always greener on the other side of the mountain, and won’t hesitate to replace a friend if she comes across a newer, shinier, prettier, [skinnier] funnier new model. Oh she’ll do it slowly so you really have no idea what’s going on, as they did this exact same thing to another girl before I came into the mix, but she’ll do it all the same, time and time again. But monogram momma doesn’t work that way! If you’ll remember, I’ve mentioned several times that I’ve got a great group of prep school friends. We’ve been together nearly 20 years now, and in that time, have been through dating, puberty, first dates, heartbreaks, first kisses, tons of groundings from our parents, two parents dying from cancer, college, a divorce, babies, etc. Basically, every single milestone since we were kids, has been shared together and at this point in our relationships, there isn’t anything we can’t say to one another. So knowing that I know how to maintain a lifelong friendship and the fact that these girls really don’t have any friends they’ve kept longer than 4 years, is also something I keep in mind. It’s not my fault. This friendship breakup was not my fault and I did everything I could to save it and talk it out and figure out what went wrong. Some girls, no matter how much we want them to remain our friends and we count on them, and no matter how many fun memories we have together, just don’t know how to maintain a long term relationship with other women and get bored and start looking for replacements. Sad, but true.

I’m not a therapist, so all I can do is tell you my own experiences and how I’ve dealt with it and offer you some advise. You can take it or leave it; the choice is yours. But if you want to save these friendships, then really sit down and talk to them. Don’t step around it on tip-toes and just assume that they know you’re hurt. Really sit down for a girls lunch out without the kids and just tell them sweetly that your feelings are hurt and you want to know what’s going on. Don’t just accept their “oh, don’t be silly, everything is fine!” at face value. Tell them that you respect and value their friendships, and thought that they did too. But that they really need to be able to talk to you about what’s going on so you can move past it. You have to approach it as you would any relationship worthy of saving, and tell them how important they are to you as well. If they are sincere about saving your relationship and nothing being wrong, then they will make an honest effort. Put the ball in their court. Wait and see when they call you after the sit-down conversation. If they were sincere that nothing is wrong, then they will pick up the phone and call you to make the effort. If they still continue hurting you, then maybe it’s time to consider that your friends too, are seeking out a greener pasture, no matter how much that hurts (and believe me, I know how much that hurts, girlfriend).

I don’t know how often you see these girls, but in my case, I have to see these women at pre-school 3 times a week. Ughhh. And while it was very difficult at the beginning of the year, I don’t let it bother me any more because I know that I tried everything I could to save those relationships but got nothing back from them on their end, other than lots of lies and excuses. I don’t have to look down at the ground or off to the left in avoidance when I pass them (nope, I’m holding my head high and looking straight ahead!). And you know what? I’m better than that, and so are you! I know I’m a great friend and I have a lot to offer. I know that I go out of my way to help out my friends and support them, but that I also deserve the same thing in return from people. You have to take care of yourself too, and if you’re not being treated with equal respect and thoughtfulness by these friends, then maybe they aren’t the people you thought they were or are worth staying so hurt over. **Right now Britney Spears’ song “Toxic” comes to mind. **

So what do you do next if they still continue to snub you? Well, you just have to pick yourself up and move on. No matter how bad it hurts-and it will hurt. You have to take the high road and smile and wave when you see them, but still protect yourself and not go out of your way for them anymore. You have to stay tight-lipped about them when you are in the presence of mutual friends, and just continue to plow through life, keeping an open heart for new friends. I was so fortunate to be able to connect and find some really fabulous new friends, that I really enjoy being with, and you will too. And lucky for us, there are also some great books you can pick up too (which I’ve scattered into the post here so go have a look-see at them when you get a chance). So whether you pick these up for yourself or have them drop-shipped to these ladie's houses from Amazon as a little subliminal message (he he he), something in these books I’ve included might also just be what you need.

I don’t know if you read it, but when I was asked about sanity and friendships from The Family Groove, I replied, “I will admit, there are plenty of days I am not quite sane at all. Having two children in a year and a half will do that to you, no? But for me, that's where my friendships come into play and why they are so important. Good friends can tell you you're not alone and let you complain and whine about your lack of sanity and how you accidentally put the milk in the microwave and your keys in the refrigerator. Then they'll come pick up your kids for you while you look for said missing keys and thus give you time to try to regroup and reclaim your sanity (or what is left of it anyway). The playground can be just as difficult and childish for moms as it can be for our kids. Let's face it, the sandbox is a tough place—full of judgmental, cliquey, catty women—so it's often times difficult to find that groove and group of your own, but it's so important. I am so lucky to have a great supportive group of friends, both with and without children to support me, and to support one another.”

So just remember, the playground IS full of cliquey, catty women and you’re not alone in dealing with these issues with other women. And no, unfortunately it doesn’t get any easier as we get older. I don’t know why I ever thought it would, but I sure was under that false illusion. One day, talking to one of my best friends from prep school, Ashley, I was telling her how I felt like I had to let go of a friendship with another girl. I felt so bad about it and it had been coming for years and years, but the bottom line was, it wasn’t a real healthy or honest relationship for me to be in anymore. Meaning, she always had a hard time being honest and always came across like she felt she has to be super competitive with me and my life. And if you’re my friend, then I just don’t care. There’s no competition, we’re friends and equals and you should just not lie to me about things in your life. I don’t care how much your husband makes, nor do I want to talk about it (especially if I know you are lying through your teeth about it too). It just isn’t appropriate. So chatting with Ashley, and telling her it was really hard for me to do this, she said something that made me feel a lot better. She said that she is all about ending bad friendships, and just doesn’t feel bad anymore about having to sever relationships that aren’t giving her anything in return. Life is too short and she’s worth more than that. And she’s right. I shouldn’t feel bad about severing a friendship that is making me feel bad all the time. And you shouldn’t feel bad either, if it’s what you need to feel better about yourself.

Look, I sooooooooooo understand the importance and value you put on your friends as a support system. Mr. Monogram also has a “big desk job” as you put it, and lately he’s been sitting behind said desk for 13-15 hours a day and stuck with that damn cell-phone to his ear all time too. I live in a city with no family either, so I have to rely on my friends a lot of days to give me the interaction and support and camaraderie that I so desperately need. You know the old saying “It takes a Village” and you and I both know, it really DOES take a village to raise children. I hope you can find your “village” and find the resolution and peace with these ladies that you both need and deserve. I really hope it works out and they come around becase I knwo that's what you want. Good luck, and if you ever want to chat more about what you’re going through, always feel free to email me because I have been there before, and I’m sure I’ll be there again.

P.S. Tomorrow we're jumping right back into creative crafty things and preppy projects so start your engines!


Anne Marie said...

Monogram Momma....first, I just love your blog. Second, you gave great advice!! I have been in that same situation and it is tough. I think I needed a gentle reminder about toxic friends and why life is too short to worry about them. Keep up the wonderful work....can't wait to see the next preppy project.

Cheap Preppy said...

Wow! Have I ever been there! It is just so sad that women treat each other so horribly. I believe in being there 100% for your friends and if they can't give you that in return then maybe its not all you thought it was to begin with. On another note, it is SO rewarding to find those great friendships, so keep looking, because you will find them!

Bossy Bar-Wife said...

I just wanted to say that it is really hard to let go of friendships, but something that has helped me was realizing that not everyone has to be my lifelong friend. I HATE conflict and I HATE confrontation, but sometimes you just have to end a friendship if it is no longer healthy for you. If the relationship is making you constantly doubt yourself or compare yourself (and come up short), it's time to consider the fact that it might be time to end the relationship. I have had very important friendships with people that I am no longer friends with, and I think that these people were in my life for a season, and for a reason, and now that part of my life is over and there's no reason to beat myself up over ending a relationship that was no longer good for me.

I don't know if that makes sense, but that's what I thought of as I was reading. I'm really sorry you are going through this!

Melissa said...

It is unfortunate how many women can be so cliquey and catty about their friendships. Sometimes I honestly think there are just a lot of women out there that just thrive on DRAMA, and sometimes they will just create it out of nothing and for no apparent reason. My husband will listen to me talk about my friends' drama sometimes and is astonished at the stupid, petty things we women will get upset at each other over. And its true! Probably why I enjoy my male friends so much. But nothing can substitute for a those rare girlfriends with whom you can share anything!

Susan said...

Dittos on BBW's sentiments. It may be age speaking, but life is too short and time is too valuable to waste it trying to get people to like me. I have local friends I see all the time, others that just sort of pass through and others I've known for years who will always be there for me and I for them: I just talked to such a friend after getting an e-mail telling me of a serious car accident in which her hubby was involved (he'll be ok, thank goodness) - I haven't spoken to her in person in ages, but the years melted away as we chatted along. Now those are friendships worth spending time on. Unfortunately, my daughter is trying to save everyone - I asked why she was friends with someone who was poison, but Allison replied that she was the antidote! I hope one day she'll learn that everyone can't be saved.BTW, MM, it's not quite the same as getting together for a coffee, but I love being your blog friend!

Monogram Momma said...

Oh Susan, you too, my wonderful candle making friend!

Now, would you like a decaf or caf? Coffee's on my tomorrow morning ;-)

Anonymous said...

I read your post earlier today but didn't have time to comment .. you hit the nail right on the head!! The "playground" does still exist & it amazes me, everyday that "adults" can act so awful to each other. I have had friends come & go - and all because they were shallow relationships that served a purpose somewhere along the way (like Susan said) - the true friendships/relationships are those that weather the storm .. no matter what!! It's those relationships that we need to cherish & invest in, because the reward is so great!! Sometimes it's not friends, but family that can turn on us - I can't even begin to go down that road, but again, people cease to amaze me on a daily basis. My quote in my high-school yearbook was: "friends are hard to find, hard to leave & impossible to forget" - I don't have a lot of friends, but I do have TRUE friends that I know I can count on when I need them or they need me -

MM - cheers to you, you said some fabulous words & they were honest & real :)

Linger Longer said...

You go girl! I can say first hand you are going in the right direction. You are a jewel of a friend, rare and true. The future looks bright.

suburban mom said...

I would be heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken if I lost my two best friends that are here, or any of my good friends which I talk on the phone with. That would be horrible.

Emmie said...

well i liked your post.. this is so interesting... u have given nice advice here.... u really got a clear view of true relationships... u can sometimes drop by My Friendship Blog as well... hope u find it interesting..!!!

A F said...

I used to be a social worker with elderly people and their families right out of college & grad school, and one piece of advice that really stuck from a 102-year-old woman was that you have to "sow your seeds where they will produce." (this was rural Alabama, after all!) What she meant was that it was pointless to spend time and energy on people who weren't in it for the right reasons. I think part of growing and maturing is realizing that we each have a lot to give, and that people who will be receptive are the ones who deserve to be close. Everyone else? Just be polite! I wish women could be kinder and more supportive of each other. Good advice MM!

Susan said...

MM, that was such great advice! I feel like we should all bookmark that to reread whenever we need a little support in the case of a toxic friendship!

Monogram Momma said...

It seems like we've all been through this at one time or another, and we've all encountered these toxic type of female relationships.
It's like A F said: some people just aren't in it for the right reasons.

slc said...

MM, very interesting post and I also liked your advice.
I'm 37 and I've just learned over the last few years to not be so critical of others (mainly friends). It's almost impossible to like EVERYTHING about someone all the time. I moved into a new neighborhood almost two years ago and have developed some of the greatest friendships I've ever had. There are 4 of us who are very close and one thing that has been great (so far) is that we don't seem to get petty with one another. 2 or 3 of us will get together when the other one can't and it's okay. We appreciate each others friendship, but we also respect each others family life, personal time, previous commitments, etc. In the beginning of one of these friendships I was having a grouchy day and one of my friends was starting to get on my nerves because she was/is quite the talker. I mentioned to my husband that I wasn't sure if she was the type of person I could deal with on a regular basis and he's the one who pointed out to me that I shouldn't be so critical about my "friends" and he was SO right.

I'm sorry your "anonymous" reader is having a difficult time with her "friends". It amazes me every day how many crappy people there are in this world. I hope that things work out or that she can find some satisfying closure (pleasant or not). I've also had friendships fizzle out for unknown reasons and it's quite disconcerting.

Anonymous said...

MM...as always YOU are a wonderful friend. You show compassion, understanding, kindness & friendship in your advice and in sharing your own personal experiences with your reader.

I thought I was the only person to go through such a thing, but obviously I'm one of many. I, too, was shunned by a group of friends. It was great to reconnect with these people after everyone finished college and came back home to raise their families. My DH and I hosted the annual Christmas Party for this group at our home each year. It was something I looked forward to all year.

DH and I still don't know what we did to be shunned by the Ring Leader couple, but now no one in the group speaks to us. There is one who acts as if nothing is wrong; however she has never called me since "the split". We are no longer invited to any couples functions and I don't know who hosts the Christmas Party now.

There was a time that DHs dad was battling cancer, we were remodeling a home and trying to raise a child. We didn't have time or energy to be social at the drop of a hat as we always had before. We preferred to be home. That's when we started noticing a problem. We couldn't afford to take trips and spend $ like the Ring Leaders. I guess that got us booted out of the circle because they do not acknowledge our existence in any way. The kicker is that they lived down the block away from us until just recently. They were also our godparents to our child. I tried to call and email the Ring Leader female to see what had happened, but she never returned my contacts. DH and I even tried to set up a meeting with us & them, but they made excuses every time.

I guess it just proves that some things never change. This same behavior was exhibited by the female Ring Leader in high school. She socialized with those who would advance her purpose whether it was social, political..whatever. I was silly enough to think that she and my other friends had left high school behind. I found out that after 20 years it is status quo.

All of this was toxic to me and my DH until we made up our minds to move on. We don't dwell on what we lost; instead we are thankful that we didn't get sucked into a situation that could have hurt us and our marriage.

So, to your reader....it is a hard thing to go through, but hopefully you will know that many of us have dealt with the same thing. You can move on and make new friends...true friends.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet MM -

I have read and re-read your entry and the following postings addressing my situation. You have some fabulous insight, as do your followers. Clearly you put much time and thought into your response, more time actually than my friends have given me in a while, and for that, I am appreciative. While it is correct in saying that sometimes, a "friend" doesn't deserve all the wonders and loyalty you can bring to the table, it still hurts when they detach from you. Yes, my head knows that is true but my heart still gets sad when I am, once again, home with the children while they are out having fun adult time. I am raising three daughters and trying hard to ensure their self confidence enough to forge their own path and not be a follower. Being a good example is the best way to do that. They go to an all girl school and will soon discover the biggest "playground" exists in their teen years. Perhaps some self-reflection might give me perspective on how to be a better friend and, if necessary, I will use that knowledge as I forge ahead, with a few old friends still standing strong, and a few new ones yet to be discovered. Thank you again for your words of wisdom and those of your readers. I feel better just knowing I am not alone in this experience.

Preppy Rider said...

I am so sad for Anonymous... if she lives near me, I will befriend her - goodness knows, we can all use great girlfriends!

Fabulous advice MM and great books/resources!

Monogram Momma said...

PR, that is SUCH a sweet thing for you to say!!

Paige Lynn said...

I hate when people are hurt by their friends. This story brought me straight back to middle school and that's not a place I want to go back to!

It's sad that even though people grow up and mature they sometimes still behave as if they are 13.

Great advice though MM!

the preppy princess said...

Well said! I always say that life is too short to bother with people that don't like you when there are plenty of people that do!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Preppy Rider, apparently I need some new friends. As I get older and more involved socially and with the community, I seem to know more people but I don't have any more friends, real friends. I have NEVER contributed to a blog or had an on-line friend, but the advice and sense that I am not alone has been amazing. Perhaps this is a good time of self-reflection to see if I am contributing to the demise of friendships in any way.

Monogram Momma said...

Anonymous, you are very welcome. As I said, I truly know how hard it is what you're going through right now. No one likes feeling like they've been ousted and being made the odd-man out while your stuck at home watching reruns of "House hunters" and they're out sipping fun little cocktails. And as my sister told me, i will pass along to you too. Getting over a friendship break-up requires sort of a mourning period. So let yourself have a day or mourning and even crying over it, but then allow yourself to move forward. Self-reflection is always good, and something I also do a lot of when I hit these road bumps in life, which I know is something you said you were doing too.

Hang in there and know you've got a support system.

Anonymous said...

MM you are a complete sweetie, and your advice is spot on.

Reading Anonymous's story and your own post made me feel so sad. It raises the question I have often asked myself at the pre-prep and prep school gates. Why don't some women just grow up and leave the teenage behaviour behind? Why are some so catty and cruel? And it really hurts to be excluded - it is so painful.

Dear Anon, if they would treat you so they are shallow twits, and simply not worthy of you. I hope this is just a silly period of misunderstanding and that things will get back on track; if not, protect yourself and just walk away. Most of us have been there and we support you.

indigo said...

Hello...I was pointed this way by K-Style. She mentioned this post over at my blog, when she read I am experiencing something very similar. Only in my case, it was me who chose to stop. I've been the 'group secretary' as another blogger described. And I had enough. I took a wait and see approach. And you know what? Nothing! Not one phone call, sms, email or even a 'hello' on MSN. And these were two people I've shared my innermost heart with. I'm trying to move on. It's hard but getting easier. Thanks for sharing this!!

BRyan said...

I'm so glad I found this blog (subscribed! :-))
I am going through this right now.
MM- your post was so welcome and thank you so much for the books!
Also all the comments from everybody, this is painful, and I'm trying not to whine, for the sake of my kids, and AND for the friends I have left. But the fact that I'm not alone is immensely helpful.
This is validating and healing, THANK YOU. :-)

Mary Ann Phillips said...

MM -- a wise blog pointed my way to this post. Amazingly, I was on the phone tonight with a friend who has been agonizing over the same sort of situation for the last three years. It was wonderful to be able to send her this link and give her some positive, supportive, and USEFUL advice -- I've bookmarked the post for later reference as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you!