So my last post was kind of a sickly sweet, "aw shucks, ain't friends great?" post, right? If you know me at all, you know I am all kinds of sweet and that I do love my homies. But I also have some anger issues. 97% of the time, that anger is directed at one goateed a-hole, and slow walking, sample scarfing people at Costco. But every so often, the anger comes out in more social settings.
When my husband first left me, I crawled into a shell and didn't come out for a few months. I had only told a few friends about what had happened, and it somehow spread throughout Mayberry like wildfire. When I finally emerged from hiding, I was blown away by the support I got...but I learned, very quickly, that sometimes even support can bring you down.
Herein lies the list of Frenemies: People the Divorced Mommy needs to avoid. Enjoy.
1. The Life Coach (aka Antoinette Robbins) (Get it? Toni Robbins?). This one will swoop down upon you, and seemingly lift you up at first. She's usually pretty successful herself, or is married to someone successful and has become successful at having successful hobbies. Guess what? You are now her hobby. She will come up with a life plan for you, and will be in your ear 24/7 making sure you stick to that plan. Here's the caveat about The Life Coach: While her intentions are undoubtedly pretty good, her attention span is woefully short. You will find yourself hearing from The Life Coach with less frequency as the weeks (sometimes hours) go by. And that's not a bad thing.
2. The Man Hater. Simple enough, no? She hates men. And sadly, she's most likely married to one, and even more sadly, the mother of one. This frenemy does have her place: when you have absolutely had it, and need to spew some venom? This is the one you want to be around. Like gasoline on a fire, she will build up your rage with crazy-eyed glee. Not only will she agree with every vitriolic thing you say, she'll give you new ways to hate on the male species. Ways you never even thought of. Be careful around this one, because unlike a true friend who understands that you are angry, this one loves that you're angry. And besides, we all know that only a few men in this world are worthy of our scorn. As a mother to three future (well, ok, one man and two future men), I see that good in them and know they will be fabulous husbands and fathers some day. How can you be a Man Hater when you gave birth to one?
3. Judge Judy. Or Judge Susan, Judge Francie, Judge Katie or Judge Lisa. It doesn't matter, just put the word Judge in front of their name and you have the third Frenemy. She was most likely a very close friend before the shitstorm happened but you must be very careful around this one after the dust settles. She's watching. And she's judging. She will make a mental note of everything you're doing: how much weight you've lost or gained, how well you are parenting, how much you're drinking or eating, how you're spending your money, who you date and how often you date them, etc. She will also keep an extra close eye on you around her husband, and other males, because Judge Judy, despite knowing what a wonderful person you are, thinks of Divorce like an infection. And you are infected, dear. Like that monkey in Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman and hot Rene Russo. Eventually, your Divorcedness will be too much for Judge Judy, and you will part ways. She'll still judge you. Only now it doesn't matter.
4. The Relationship Addict. This is the twin sister of the good friend, The In-Betweener. The Relationship Addict is kind of like the In-Betweener, only her in-between times are usually just hours long instead of weeks or months. Girl literally cannot live without a man in her life. This is not to say that the Relationship Addict is a bad friend...au contraire, she is usually a sweet, kind friend, a friend you've probably known for ages. We could get into the whole psycho-analysis behind WHY she can't live without a man, but I have neither the training nor the time to do that (I'm a working stiff now, folks...it's really cutting into my "me" time). But being around the Relationship Addict isn't exactly good for your now-fragile self esteem. She's there one second, and then *poof* she's gone, off with whichever Lothario has sucked her in this time. And let's be honest: The Relationship Addict doesn't exactly have stellar taste in dudes. Like my heroine Patti Stanger, The Millionaire Matchmaker says: Her picker is off. You are just learning how to date again, this is one friend you would be wise to keep an arm's length away.
5. Pity Patty. You will be able to identify Pity Patty in two ways: That goddamned look of concern in her eyes, and the way she talks to you. The concerned eyes, paired with a furrowed brow, and the hushed voice (like you talk to an injured animal) are comforting at first. In fact, pretty much everyone you talk to while your separation/divorce is still fresh will talk to you like this (except the lawyers. Never, ever the lawyers.). And at first, it's ok. You are an injured animal. You're hurt and scared and don't know what to do. Concern is good at this stage. But after a while, after you get your sea legs and you gain some strength, you don't need the concern anymore. You need "atta girls" and "go get 'ems". Because you may be fighting for your life, and the lives of your kids...or maybe just fighting to get things back to your new normal and the last thing you need at this time in your life is pity. You need to surround yourself with people who recognize what a warrior you have become. Not only recognize it, but celebrate it and nurture it. Pity Patty serves as a reminder of what you once were. You don't need that.
6. Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones may or may not be real. She's the one who does everything just a little bit better than you, the one who has a really clean house, well-behaved kids and hair that is certainly never frizzy or pulled back in a Crazy Librarian bun. Her car doesn't smell like dog ass and old french fries, and she always has all the ingredients for sangria on hand. Her parties are casually elegant "last minute" affairs that look like a Martha Stewart orgasm painted by Norman Rockwell, furnished by Pottery Barn and catered by Giada De Laurentiis, and her marriage, or partnership (hey, it's 2012) is perfect. Mrs. Jones exercises but she never sweats, and she certainly isn't wearing a giant Dave Matthews t-shirt while she does it. Mrs. Jones is the one you will find yourself desperately trying to keep up with. And honey, no matter how well you're doing? It ain't gonna happen. Mrs. Jones is a master at what she does, which is portraying perfection. And she does the hell out of it. I won't tell you to avoid Mrs. Jones, because she is everywhere, but I will tell you to lighten up on yourself when she's around. Perfection is overrated. And trust me when I say, you may just be the one consoling Mrs. Jones when her perfect world shatters. Mrs. Jones, you see, is very real underneath that glossy exterior. She has fears and self loathing and self doubt just like you and me, she's just better at hiding it. Not all Mrs. Joneses will fall from that smooth marble pedestal they perch upon, but some will. And they'll need someone like you to help them get up.
7. The Backstabber. Without a doubt, the most lethal of all Frenemies. The Backstabber is pure evil. She is exactly what her name implies. This one will hold out a glass of wine with one hand, and in the other hand she's holding a big shiny Wustoff Trident butcher knife. Or a nail file, or her own pointy claws. The worst thing about The Backstabber is, she's probably a pretty good friend. The bright side of this one is, you have lots of good friends, and the real ones will call out The Backstabber. They'll tell her not only where to go, they'll probably give her directions and a Diet Coke for the ride. The Backstabber will leave a scar, though, one that will fade over time but never truly disappears. The Backstabber usually has her reasons for what she does, and believe it or not, one of the biggies is jealousy. Yes, someone is actually jealous of you, my dears. She sees how you've overcome some pretty debilitating awfulness, and she sees how people are drawn to you and want to be a part of your life...your new, awesomely normal life. You have a light about you, a light that a turd of an ex-husband couldn't put out, a light that wasn't dimmed by sadness or stress or fear. And some people hate that about you. Pity the Backstabber, my friends. Pity her, but do it from afar. She's damaged goods and she wants you to be damaged, too. You are better than that. Your light is something you've earned, it's something you deserve and something you should cherish. Nobody can take that away from you.
And there you have it, people. The Frenemies. Luckily for me, I've only come across a few of them in my stint as Divorced Mommy, but the few I've dealt with have taught me invaluable lessons. They've shown me what kind of friend I need to be, what I can do (and what I should never do) to be a good friend. They've rubbed some of the shine off of my naivete, which kind of sucks but in the long run will be a benefit.
The good news is, these Frenemies are fairly easy to pick out of the crowd. And your hens, the good, kick ass hens who really have your back, will help you with the pickin'.
Thank YOU for being a friend.