Over the past couple of years I have been doing a lot of work on myself. I'm working on being "conscious" in my every day life: conscious of what I eat, conscious of how I act, conscious of what I say, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am far from perfect. But I can honestly say I am much improved. A huge part of me wishes I had done this work a decade or so earlier, but this is my path and I'm happily traveling it.
One of the things I've been paying attention to is my interactions with other people, especially women. I don't have a lot of friends. I have plenty of acquaintances, but I don't have that core group of women that I can count on. For example, I find myself "all dressed up with no place to go" all the time. How did I reach my middle 40s without a core group of friends? I hear other women talking about "girls night out" and I don't really have that as an option in my life. Interestingly, I never really have. I've never really felt like I fit in anywhere.
Many women have had their core group of friends since high school or college. I have one friend from junior high that I've stayed in contact with over all of these years - off and on, up and down, frequent and infrequent - but I think we're still friends simply because we've known each other so long. Growing up my cousin was my best friend, and we remained really close friends well into our twenties, and then life took us separate ways. She got married and moved away, which made our previous constant contact very difficult. Then she had a baby and I went to law school ... the rest is history. We still keep in contact, we visit occasionally, but we have totally different lives now. I have one friend from college that I talk to regularly, but she lives 6 hours away so we don't see each other very often. I have one friend from law school that I stayed in touch with, who lives within visiting range, but even that relationship has basically disappeared over the past few years.
I have no way of knowing why I didn't develop lasting friendships when I was younger, and frankly it's a waste of time and energy to look back and ponder it. Instead, I've been trying to figure out why I haven't bonded with any of the fabulous women I've met over the past five or ten years. I don't know the answers, at least not yet, but I have had a realization. Right now, at this point in my life, I am in a "no man's land." Single mothers don't really fit in anywhere. I don't have much in common with my "single" friends because my world revolves around my children and their lives, while my single friends' lives revolve around career, relationships, travel, etc. I don't have much in common with my married friends, in part because I did not have a good marriage so I don't have anything positive to contribute, but mostly because their lives revolve around their intact families. I certainly have more in common with single mothers than with anyone else right now, but even within that group there is distance. As an example, unless our parenting schedules are similar - which is rare - one of us always hads kids in tow. My closest single-mother friend is very close to her family and spends a ton of time with them, we are on opposite weekends with our kids, and she is currently (actively) dating. I ask you, when does she have time for a cocktail? And then there's the issue of common interests: once you get us away from our children, we're left to our own devices ... what if we have nothing in common?
Don't get me wrong; it's not like I'm this lonely little sad sack. I'm not. But it occurs to me that I don't have a core group of good friends that have my back. As examples, I locked myself out of my house at 2:00 a.m and I had no one to call; the only person who has a spare key is my 70-year-old mother and I'm not going to call her in the middle of the night. I got in a hit-and-run accident in a bad part of town at midnight and I had no one to call. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. in excruciating pain, thinking I needed to call 911, and I had no one to call. Those moments in life happen to every one, and they are the moments when you realize who's got your back.
What to do, what to do? I'm not sure yet. It's clear I need to develop a support system, I just don't know what it's going to look like. I joined a running group a couple of years ago with the hopes of meeting new friends, but what I actually got was more acquaintances. That's not a bad thing but it's not what I'm looking for right now. I've been invited to join a bunco group; maybe my support system will start there, but maybe not. As I've been learning over the last year or so, when things don't work out as we hope, we should consider it nothing more than feedback: What we did and/or how we did it did not give the result we wanted. Adjust, do something different, and wait for feedback. All I can do is keep trying different things until I find my fit.