It was a year ago at her monthly book club meeting that these words were spoken to Jane, a 59 year old lawyer. As she related the conversation to me it seemed still fresh and very unsettling to her. She recalled looking around the room at the women gathered and realized that she might consider one a good friend, but best friend sounded like something from childhood.
• What was so very troubling to her? • What were the feelings it brought up? • Why did she feel as if she had been punched in the stomach?
Jane was clear that her husband and adult children were very supportive of her professionally as well as the personal development work/journey she had embarked on. Everyone wanted her to be happy and yet she really had no idea what made her happy. However, she knew with certainty that she was unwilling to dismiss the initial “compliment” or her immediate reaction to it. Jane is prepared to give up being responsible for everyone’s welfare and personal happiness. She is also struggling with it and knows that her legacy will not be as “everyone’s best friend.”
Women may reveal information about their lives in order to connect with themselves and others. What frequently happens as we mature may also be a confusing time yet one rich with possibility and personal empowerment. The choices we make, the relationships we are in and the company we keep, all contribute to the mosaic of who we are.
• How varied are you willing to make the “design”? • How risky is it? • What’s the hook for you to be in relationships that are feeling so one-sided? • What are you willing to do about it? • What challenging conversations are you willing to have? • How clear are your boundaries?
It’s helpful to create a checklist as you attempt to clean house and reconfigure relationships. Perhaps taking a leave from her book club will clarify its role in Jane’ life.
• Has it become a habit? • Does she enjoy the focus of the group? • Is it time to find another book club or redefine her role in it? • What would you do?