Ladies, here’s my premiss: your mother is your first female friend. That relationship informs every other relationship with other females that you will have in your lifetime. Your ability to bond in a healthy way with a female friend is determined by that initial mother/daughter relationship.
In my case, my relationship with my mother was so incredibly dysfunctional, the idea of friendship with another lady makes my physically ill. I fear other women enormously. And why not? Your mother is the first woman you meet on the day of your birth. She may be the only woman in your life until school days begin. It’s normal for a child to assume that all women are like their mother. Subconsciously, even into adulthood, women like your mother feel normal, even if, to an outside observer, they are far from it.
My mother is extremely paranoiac. I would even say that for a time, her paranoia bordered on insanity. She’s also an Aspie. Her paranoia made her intrusive, controlling. Her Aspergers made her talk incessantly. To me, this is how all woman might be. This is what womanhood means. This is what I’m in for if I dare to cultivate a friendship with another lady. Incessant yap-yap-yapping, prying into my life. Telling me what to do and how to do it. The thought is maddening. Nauseating!
Of course, I realise in 99 out of 100 women, nothing could be farther from the truth. But my fears are self-perpetuating and self-confirming. Given a room of 100 women, I will always be drawn towards the lady who is controlling, who is intrusive, who is exactly like my mother. I am my own worst enemy. I perpetuate my own fears.
This dynamic has coloured my life. For many years, I avoided women like the plague preferring the friendship of men or even solitude to female friendship. But, now and then, I gave it another try. It always ended in disaster.
But the disaster was a long time in coming. Every female friendship began with so much promise. Our initial bond was almost mystical. It was my new friend’s similarities to my mother that brought us together and, ultimately, also tore us apart.
Thinking back on many years and many failed friendships, the word ‘boundaries’ dominates. I always chose friends who had very poor boundaries. I also have very poor boundaries. Soon we began treading on each other’s lives and it was the beginning of the end.
Having been allowed no privacy, no secrecy, no boundaries by my paranoiac mother, it comes naturally for me to ‘tell all’ in friendships. I throw the door wide open for my friend to trespass on my life. But will she do it?
Indeed she will! Being a woman with no clear idea of appropriate boundaries, she will indeed rush madly into my sanctum santorum, eager to pry and meddle. Where an emotionally healthy person wouldn’t dream of trespassing, the friends I choose rush in where angels fear to tread, ringing the death knell of the relationship.
My many failed friendships are why I no longer seek female friends. If a friend drifts into my life, they are, to a woman, always dysfunctional and the friendship doesn’t last long. I simply attract the wrong type of person. I am the wrong type of person.
The only thing that saved me from a lifetime of loneliness were my platonic friendships with men. Perhaps by nature, perhaps by nurture, men usually don’t intrude on your innermost life, nor do they want you to over-share with them. There’s an arms-length dynamic to a platonic male/female friendship that I appreciate.
Then I met my husband, Rhys, and he became my lifelong friend. We are two wounded souls clinging to each other while also respecting our mutual need for privacy. That’s why our marriage works so well.
They say that friendship adds the sweetness to life. I’d like to think this is true but, unfortunately, my adventures in friendship have been bitter disasters. I’m forced to conclude I’m simply not good friend material and am definitely drawn to those who are similarly not good friend material either.
Photo by The Raggedy-man