Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mean Girls

I usually attempt to craft some sort of opening that will catch my readers' attention because I like to pretend I'm a writer.  But since having kids, my thoughts are significantly less streamlined.  They look a little more double-helix-y these days--one thought connects to another thought connects to another thought--until I have no idea where I started or how I started concentrating on this subject.

In fact, Favorite likes to play this game with me:  he'll ask what I'm thinking about in that very moment and I have to tell him and then trace how I got to that thought in the first place.  It's often an odd set of associations that have ultimately reassured him he will never understand the way my mind works.  

Ladies, this is why we should feel a little sorry for our men.

But the bigger thought on my mind is how our men usually end up taking the blame for something I think we've perpetuated on our own.  Namely?  Mean Girl Syndrome.

I can't exclude myself.  I am horribly judgmental--particularly when it comes to other women.  Which is odd given that I would prefer to avoid close relationships with women because of The Drama.  (Of course I capitalized it.  And I'm willing to bet all of you know exactly what I'm talkin' bout.)  Like most things, though, it took blatant observation to call my hand on my own hurtful stereotypes.

We stare at women who don't look the way they used to--the ones who've gained a little weight, a few wrinkles or other physical imperfections.  Many of us use those visual sessions to reassure ourselves that we are (thinner, prettier, younger looking, less blemished) than the model we see in front of us.

But the thing I've noticed more than labeling physical appearance?  Some inherent need to call other women crazy.

I can count on two hands the number of times I've heard someone refer to a man as crazy.  One of them was when a guy I knew snowed a large group of people and stole money from a non-profit organization.  Another was when a friend's husband spent the 8 years they were married constructing a life that was more fairytale than anything else.  In both of these instances, it was clear that the people involved did not have strong footing in reality.

The number of times I've heard a woman described as crazy?  Incalculable.

Here are the instances I can think of right off the top of my head:
1.  She's not married but she wants to be.
2.  She doesn't have a baby but she wants one.
3.  She thinks another girl's boyfriend is cute.
4.  She doesn't agree with me on a subject.
5.  She's not the kind of girl I would hang around with.
6.  She's marrying someone I have a close relationship with and I don't much like her.
7.  She doesn't like the same things I like.
8.  She doesn't have the same hobbies I have.
9.  She talks about working out all the time.
10.  She talks about her struggle to lose weight.
11.  She is very passionate about her family.
12.  She holds grudges.
13.  She refuses to discuss certain subjects.
14.  She doesn't openly share her life story so we can understand her.
15.  She shares too much of her life story.
16.  She spends too much money.
17.  She refuses to spend any money.
18.  She focuses too much on one subject.
19.  She's very confrontational about subjects where she has no experience.
20.  She's stupid and loud (which apparently also makes her crazy).

How many things can crazy mean?  And ladies, what is our obsession with handing out that label like we're all psychiatrists?

In the darkest days of my life, I felt like I was sliding down some sort of crazy slide with no bottom.  I couldn't control how I felt and I was terrified I would never be myself again.  I can remember feeling like the world was in fast forward around me, and the number of people who treated me like I was just another nut case who needed to get my crap together was severely hurtful.  

I have no idea what was said about me in the privacy of another person's home.

But I can imagine.

And more than anything, it makes me wonder why we, as women--knowing the places we've navigated--don't seem to offer a little more grace to the women around us.

We don't know it all; I don't know it all.

We can't make the judgment calls that dictate whether or not she is right for him.
We can't constantly refer to her struggle through this or that as crazy.
We can't continue to dismiss each other because our experiences or likes are a little different.

On a good day, I like to pretend that our preoccupation with weight, looks and psychological well being is due to the pressure put on our gender by men.  But my experience tells me that thought couldn't be further from the truth.

I keep thinking it's time to let these thoughts inform my actions--to myself and the women around me.

This is part of grace...right?