Girlfriends: the staff of life

“To love, honour and cherish,” are words that have been uttered with much conviction in front of family and friends by most of us in our lifetime. They convey to our spouses what we naively believe to be true until death do us part. Sadly, more than 50 percent of us, however, never fulfill those promises. In fact, it has been my experience that these words more appropriately apply to those individuals who often turn out to be the most important people in our adult lives – our girlfriends. The fact that our relationships with girlfriends are so intense, honest and enduring, without blowing a year’s salary on a fancy wedding speaks volumes about the power and strength of friendships.

My own strong relationships with girlfriends began in high school and was the direct result of being totally unappealing to twist1the opposite sex. Despite numerous crushes on classmates and hotties-about-town who cruised into the drive-in burger joint where I worked on weekends, no one was particularly interested in dating a skinny, pimply, toothy me. Undaunted, though, I bravely attended all the high school dances and did the twist, the mashed potato and jive with my girlfriends. We sat out the slow dances. I did once summon up the nerve to ask a cute blond guy called Chuck to a Sadie Hawkins dance at our high school. Having no experience with talking to boys, I asked a similarly afflicted girlfriend what we should talk about. She wisely advised, “talk about his interests”. (Some things never change, do they?) I knew he belonged to the wrestling club so I cleverly started a conversation with, “So I hear you belong to the wrestling club?” to which he replied, “Yes.”. End of conversation. Beginning of a very long painful evening. His mother probably made him honour the date with me because it was the kind thing to do.

Fifty years later, it’s still girlfriends I can always count on to advise, support, humour and honour me when I need it. The day I separated from my first husband, I landed on my girlfriend’s doorstep in tears at 9:30 in the morning. She immediately put the kettle on, dropped whatever she had planned for that tea & sympathy1 day and listened, sympathized and supported my soul for the entire day while I blubbered. Comedienne #Sandra Shamas in one of her shows described her own marital separation something like this, “When a woman is in pain, she emits a strong, silent signal that is audible only to other women. And then they come. Friends descend with love, caring and boxes of cookies and squares and pots of tea.” It’s a very powerful energy.

tea & sympathy2Friends share secrets, diet tips, fashion advice, books and even other friends. We share and support each other through the process of aging, bolstered by the thought that we’re not alone. The other day as I removed a small packet of hearing aid batteries from my purse, we had a good laugh recalling that it doesn’t seem that long ago we were retrieving tampons from similar packets in our purses. Sharing hangover remedies has been replaced by fibre recommendations. Listening to confessions about love life disasters has happily been overtaken by loving life. Getting rid of unwanted hair has been superseded by efforts to conquer hair loss. We’re all in this together.

My network of girlfriends is large. Some I’ve known since kindergarten, more than 60 years ago. Others are more recent but most of my circle of friends have been around for at least 40 years. They’re smart, funny, kind and generous. We’ve seen each other through the good, the bad and the ugly. Husbands have come and gone. Children have grown up and left home which freed us up for more time together. We’ve watched one another lose our waistlines and gain some wrinkles. Some have lost husbands, children, parents and other friends. But we still have each other. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, ’til death do us part, and for that we’re very of friendsP.S. January 28, 2014: My girlfriend Gail just sent me this:

This is Taught at Stanford University
In an evening class at Stanford University the last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of wellbeing. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very GOOD for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged? Not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health. Forward this to all your girlfriends to stay in touch, just like I just did! Thanks to all the girls in my life who have helped me stay healthy, happy, and feeling very loved.
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[…] to listen to a monologue about the heinously expensive purse I want. When I’m falling, my girlfriends are my soft […]

9 years ago

Loved this Linda! Koodos to you…

Lynda Davis
9 years ago
Reply to  Nan

Thanks Nancy. Hope you stay tuned.

  Lynda Davis Follow my blog at: