As a kid, I imagined that shipwrecks and quicksand were going to be a lot more of a problem than they turned out to be. I’d sometimes lay in my bed at night envisioning myself struggling onto a desolate shore in tattered clothes. The terror was not about getting marooned on an island, but being ALONE on that island with a ball I named Wilson. If it was a Swiss Family Robinson situation, I’d be cool. I could eat coconuts and raw fish as long as there were other people and a badass treehouse.
As a new mom I felt very, very alone. I was also newly married, so I tried to make my husband into my girlfriend. He was a terrible girlfriend. First: When I had an emotionally crazy day, he was scared of me. Second: He does not like drama. He can hash out all of life’s problems in under 30 seconds. Third: He makes fun of all TV shows. Fourth: He doesn’t even like junk food.
I wanted to hash out life’s problems over a two-three hour glass of wine. I needed to verbally process the fact that my son’s diaper poop-sploded all over my grocery-filled shopping cart. I needed to laugh until I cried about rediculous topics. I needed to talk about the feeling that I was losing myself in motherhood and didn’t know who I was anymore.
For me, some things just don’t heal unless I can talk, be heard, cry, laugh, and be encouraged. Also, they don’t heal without junk food.
My husband is my best friend, but he’s not that best friend.
Somewhere along the line I woke up and realized that unless I wanted to kidnap the door-to-door Hoover saleslady and make her eat chocolate with me, I was going to have to go out and find my tribe.
Over the years, this is what I’ve learned:
Not unlike House Hunters, sometimes you just have to go out and find your people. You have to go to the coffee shop, go to that book study, or strike up a conversation at the park. It is like scouting for a Hollywood production company, except you don’t pay people to be your friend.
When you get a vibe you like, make the first move. I was terrified of 98% of my friends before I got to know them. I was terrified of rejection and that we wouldn’t find anything to talk about. I was terrified because they were probably perfect.
I was wrong.
DON’T OVER THINK IT. This is the dating period; you aren’t signing a blood oath of best-friendship. Keep it simple; invite them to the beach, or over for drinks…you won’t regret it.
*If you do regret it, pat yourself on the back for being brave and try again.
Be real. As you feel comfortable, start talking about the real stuff. Talk about the bad attitude you had when you woke up that morning or the fact that you forgot your kid’s school performance. Talk about your saggy boobs (that’s my go-to) or don’t change out of your hideous, but beloved sweat pants, and leave some dishes in the sink.
In my opinion, this is the true test of friendship. My closest friends passed this test, and at this stage of my life they are truly the only kind of friends I have time for. If I can’t be my authentic, messy self then I will have to pass, and the same goes for them. If they keep up a facade of perfection, I’ll also have to pass.
True friendship is about knowing and being known. It’s about being loved and accepted as you are.
It’s about being shipwrecked together.
Keep making the time. Friendship takes investment. It takes making time even though you don’t have any. I recently listened to a podcast talking about how moms often sacrifice taking care of themselves…and one of the first things to go is friendship.
Nothing can replace time invested. It is hard to carve it out of the chaos, but the payoff is sanity. The payoff is roots that grow deep and friends who love you when your hair smells like wet dog.
The pay off is that your roots start to grow deep. They grow deep through miscarriages, through anxiety, and through sickness. They grow through rainbow babies. They grow through healing and celebration and triumph. They grow through hundreds of glasses of wine and hundreds of cups of coffee. They grow through hundreds of playdates, early morning walks, and late night texts.
There’s no substitute for time.
We all want to belong. None of us want to be marooned without our people.
My friend YOU ARE WORTH IT. You are worth the very best of friends exactly as you are today. No masks, no pretending, just you as you are.
There are millions of women in the trenches who get it, we just have to find eachother.