My 40 year old peers have taught my 8 year old daughter what mean girl behavior looks like.
It has been humbling to have her bear witness to people not liking me, ignoring me, and excluding me. It is a valuable life lesson, and one worth learning at any age.
When my daughter started kindergarten, the parents in her class connected as a large group, and became fast friends. I was grateful for this new supportive group of parents, and it didn’t feel or appear cliquey to me, but then again when you’re in, it’s sometimes hard to see who is out. Inclusion with these adults felt amazing, compared to the mean girl scenarios I had experienced in the past.
My family lives in a small one bedroom apartment.
One day, one of my new mom “friends” came over for the first time, and said, “Wow, your house makes me feel so much better about my own life.” I love honesty, so I wasn’t totally offended. I felt more surprised and curious. If this is what she is saying to my face, what on earth would she say behind my back?
This mom deemed herself social “planner” of the group and began to coordinate most activities. One was a class camping trip, a small girl’s beach weekend away, and a woman’s book club.
I joined the book club and was having a great time belonging. These blossoming friendships helped inspire me to start a year long self love journey.
Initially, these friendships felt compatible and healthy. Many of these incredible friendships have grown and strengthened over my 18 month journey. Some were instrumental in helping me create fun and making a ruckus. I had my Day One party and my 9 month celebration party at one friend’s house. A different friend teaches Brazilian dance, and extended her services to me, for free, whenever she could. She also led dancing at numerous celebrations I threw. I exercised with these friends, and we had a great time together.
My children were becoming closer and closer to this group’s children. Our social calendar was full and fun. We carpooled, play dated, partied, ladies night outed, and coordinated after school classes and camps.
Months ago, all of this stopped.
I have been “ghosted”, essentially iced and ignored out of the social circle. First, I realized I was no longer “friends” on Facebook with the “planner.” I called her and directly asked her why. She said she didn’t like me, and all I do is talk about my transformation.
This hurt, as I am human, and I have been a people pleasing codependent person my whole life. Therefore, this honest answer felt like she was pouring acid on my emotional thin skin. So, I had to grow a thicker skin, and focus on logically knowing it is fine to not be liked.
Unfortunately, being in drama with the “planner”, I was now in a pickle. After sitting down and agreeing that there was space for both of us in our community, I stayed in her book club and beach outing plans. I optimistically hoped that since we aren’t actually the ones in elementary school, we could move forward in a mature fashion.
Then came the very next book outing.
I had responded I was coming, but the “planner” changed the place and time and didn’t include me on the switch. Ouch!
I couldn’t sweep it under the rug, so I wrote to her. I expressed my hurt and disbelief, and told her to now intentionally leave me off future invites, because I didn’t want to be a part of her club if she could treat me like this. Her response was, “ok, Sara”. So I stooped to an 8th grade level, and emailed my letter and hers to the whole book club, so they would know why I was no longer going to be involved. CRICKETS. The “planner” came back and said, I shouldn’t lump all of the woman together, because she was the one who intentionally left me out. I wish I could say that those amazing woman took a stand and said this isn’t right, or reached out on their own to keep up relations, but they didn’t.
My daughter now sees these adults ignoring me, like I’m not even there. She hears about the gatherings that we weren’t invited to. She watches the other kids continue to be together at carpool, play dates, camps,and parties, while we are left out. Just today she asked for a play date with one of her old buddies from that group. I feel guilt and shame that she feels thrown out too.
I’ve been able to model a lot to my children, through this experience. One lesson is that quality is better than quantity.
I spent 36 years thinking I could attempt to control who liked me, and who didn’t.
It was a waste of time and energy, and I am now free of most of those desires. However, that doesn’t mean that my feelings don’t get hurt. I also find it interesting that when I don’t want to think about things within my power, I can focus on this wound and fester in victimized self pity. Those moments aren’t always pretty, and I wish I could protect my children from my adult (life) experiences.
Through my Public Display of Self Love journey (I know, there I go again), I have been so fortunate to cultivate a lot of new friendships. I’ve found like minded people, who are attracted to self care and self love. Those new friendships have been tremendously helpful and healthy.
Even with the pain and anguish, I am grateful for the opportunity to show my daughter that it isn’t the size of your home, wallet, or social calendar that is important. What matters is how you treat people, and knowing and valuing yourself.
As I surround myself with people who believe in love, abundance, and aren’t scared to celebrate other people’s successes, I will help my children learn how to be wonderful friends.