A blog/dialogue about friendship and other complex relationships

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We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burdens. ~ Native American Proverb, Osage

The Good Life Factor

Friendship Phenomena #2: The Good Life Factor

To lead a good life, we need good friends. Maintaining strong friendships is challenging with so much vying for our attention. Let’s resist the temptation to deprioritize friendship, and consider friends as living, loving recharging stations. We plug in and download all our angst about being wives, mothers, daughters, employees, artists.

Then we return to these roles recharged.
In fact, without friends, we may not return at all.
Am I the only one who’s ever fantasized about running away from home – in my 30s?

Friendship Factor Quote - The Good Life

 The Good Wife

Mother Goose and Grimm Disney's Desperate Housewives
Source: Sunday, Jan. 1st, 2006

When I want to gouge my husband’s eyes out with a melon-baller, my friends:

1) commiserate
2) indulge my fantasies of the perfect murder
3) suggest reasons why I married the asshole in the first place – such as:

a) he is not an asshole, really
b) he still has great hair
c) he can be quite sweet, loving, and handy

Conversely, if the situation requires separation, our friends ensure we divorce with dignity. They:

1) proclaim he was never good enough for you anyway;
2) share 101 revenge fantasies
3) heave your butt back in the saddle

The Good Mother

Good mothers taking their children for a walk.
Source: Flickr zenjazzygeek

Have you ever been outnumbered by tiny, runny-nosed, sassy, stinky, energizer-bunny tyrants in the house? Though my kids are now grown, I swear I still suffer Parental Traumatic Stress Disorder. I felt like I was raising kids who spoke Mandarin, studied Houdini, and were constantly auditioning for Survivor. When I was at the end of my umbilical cord, my friends;

1) commiserated
2) indulged my fantasies of running away with a Beatles tribute band
3) reminded me how sweet these kids are when sleeping, and that I would lay down my life for them

The Temperamental Artist

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from "The Most Beloved American Writer"
Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Families often push us down the safer, responsible path. Friends encourage us to go for it, fanning the spark within. Given my fondness for food, I opt to keep my day job and squeeze writing into my free time. I complain bitterly about my artistic struggles to anyone who will listen – who, as it turns out, are my friends – and they:

1) commiserate
2) tell me I’m brilliant
3) remind me I’m exactly where I chose to be, so shut up and enjoy it, eh?

If we can’t tell our friends that at times we want to maim others, or that we feel vulnerable and scared and unworthy, then who can we tell? What if this outlet is all that separates us from women who snap and do terrible things to themselves or others? Often we think our friendships, and the time required for routine maintenance, are an indulgence.


Friends give us space to be our unmitigated selves, essential to fulfilling our other roles in life without losing our marbles.

How have your friends helped you cope with the difficulties of everyday life? I’d love to hear about it.

In friendship,

Good Life Factor is Friendship
Source: Flickr Jolante van Hemert

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