During the ending of my marriage, I stopped calling old friends. What was I going to tell them…. that he dumped me for someone younger, thinner, prettier, smarter….? No thanks! I choked on those facts and cried alone, until I couldn’t stand my own miserable company.
I found some other women online who also needed some laughs in their lives and five of us really clicked. We did fun things together –went bowling, had a pizza-making contest, watched old movies we loved, etc.
However, after a couple of months, when we started going to bars to drink and dance, the atmosphere changed. Two of the women were judgmental about how the other three (including me) dressed, danced, talked with men who chatted with us.
Suddenly, it was high school and Mean Girls again.
I quit the group because I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m left with one good friend from that experience (the other one among us three is a “pleaser” who just ignored the gripes).
What’s your take on all this?
One Friend Only
One good friend is a treasure you’re lucky to find. Perhaps, too, enough time has passed that you can re-connect with any missed “old friends” from the past.
You’re not hiding behind tears any more. Instead, you emerged strong and bold, with the courage to seek totally new acquaintances and join them in fun to get your spirit back.
What if a couple of them were jealous types…? There’s always some of that around, and you were smart enough to cut away rather than let them get to you. That’s called self-protection, and having some life experience teaches us that it’s a necessary instinct.
You’re in a good place now. No room for Mean Girls.
Reader’s Commentary “Thank you SO much for including men as victims of sexual assault in your wonderful, insightful response (November 20):
“While I absolutely don’t mean to denigrate female survivors, there’s still much work to be done in order for male survivors of sexual assault to not be seen as coat-tail riders of the greater #Metoo movement or weak men, or not “real” victims.
“I’m a male survivor of multiple incidents of sexual abuse by Protestant pastors at ages 16, 17, and in my early 20s; by my doctor in my late-20s; and by a mental health counsellor in my 40s. I have also been raped twice - one incident involved multiple parties. For the record, I’m a 6’3,” 195 lb. masculine (formerly) athletic man whom others consider outwardly attractive.
“Having had a successful career while suppressing my toxic secrets for decades, I’ve now been forced into retirement at 55 due in part to my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which has made me a bitter and angry shell, unable to deal with even minor conflicts.
“I’m one of the lucky few who has found both an expert in childhood sexual abuse trauma, the money to access her services weekly, and the kindest, most patient husband.
“It’s been hell, and there’ve been many times I almost didn’t make it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Your inclusion of me in your comments drew the light nearer and further empowered me to reach it. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a big difference.
“Thank you for helping to normalize for the public the concept that men can be the sexual targets of power imbalances, too. Please keep prying those minds open.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the single female student, 20, who has anxiety whenever she hears loud-sex noises from her neighbour’s bedroom (Nov. 21):
Reader – “Everything you suggested is great, but I'm wondering why would the neighbour having loud sex cause this person to be crying?
“Maybe they should seek help due to other issues? Isn't it as simple as pounding on the wall to let them know they're being heard?”
Reader #2 – “This issue also came up recently in the New York Times’ Ethic’s column. The answer there was, when you know the couple are in bed, bang on your floor with your bed to simulate heavy noises of active sex with loud wild voices, panting sounds and joyous screams of sexual enjoyment.
“That, coming through the walls, alerted the couple how they were being heard by neighbours. It seemed to work since their coupling sounds were quieted.”
Ellie – Fun for some!
Tip of the day:
Self-protection is a vital part of rising above hurtful experiences. “Moving on” is what you can make happen, instead of just waiting.