Where would we be without our female friends – especially after all these weeks of lockdown?
Never since my schooldays when my “bestie” saved me from the school bully who shouted “Maggie Four-eyes” at me when I appeared wearing my first pair of National Health pink-rimmed spectacles, have I appreciated my girlfriends quite so much.
When men, marriage and all the pressures of keeping the family ship afloat get a tad too much for us, is there anything to beat a good natter with those women who have seen you through everything from boyfriends who dumped you, to family feuds, to children who had their difficult days?
Female friendship is a precious commodity. Finding someone who will listen, give sound advice, help you find a way through the problem and make you smile is a great treasure in life.
When I interviewed bestselling Irish author Marian Keyes who writes wittily and intelligently about love, life and being a woman, she told me it was her female friends who had given her the courage to carry on at times when she felt the dark dog of depression creeping close.
I’m reading her latest novel, Grown Ups just now and her wit and wisdom is as sharp and profound as ever.
So what is it about female friendship that is so special?
I think it comes from realising that there is someone who understands your need to let off steam about a colleague or someone in your family.
We’ve all had to deal with a workmate or a neighbour who makes your hackles rise with a snide remark or who subtly knocks your confidence with a cutting comment about something or someone you hold dear.
But if we have a friend we can trust who is both honest and kind, we are blessed.
I met Wilma on my first day at secondary school in Coatbridge. My uncle had been her primary school teacher and said: “Look out for her. She enjoys the same books you do, she’s very loyal and has a great sense of humour.”
Umpteen years later, Wilma who has been my bestie, my bridesmaid and godmother to my first child, is still there for me in good times and difficult times.
Marian Keyes has a name for besties. She calls them LTFs – long-term friends – who share memories of the past, feed you in the present, listen to you when you have a problem, keep your secrets and tell you honestly if you’re wearing something which does you no favours.
Every woman I know needs an LTF, especially now when life is a bit more challenging.
You meet for a coffee or a walk in the park and bit by bit you both relax, breathe and let off steam about whatever is bothering you – whether it’s your husband, your boss or that annoying weight gain which has taken up permanent residence round your middle.
My daughter has three besties, Laura, Lynne and Carrie, who have shared all the ups and downs of dating dodgy guys, finding the good guys, having children, coping with life and love and in-laws as they learn and laugh their way through it all over that well-worn escape route – a night out, a good gossip and a bottle of wine or two.
Our female friends are better for us than Prozac, cheaper than visiting an analyst and as we learn the lessons of lockdown, we can truly value them for making our journey smoother, simpler and fun along the way.
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