14 Lessons The Wednesday Group will teach you about female friendship
You wouldn't expect a book about sex addiction to offer so much in the way of female friendship, but Sylvia True's debut The Wednesday Group is so much more than sad.
The story follows five women: Gail, Bridget, Hannah, Lizzy and Flavia. They are each married to men dealing with sex addiction, and thanks to ambitious young psychologist Kathryn, they find one another in an experimental Wednesday night support group.
The traumas are real; the broken relationships are devastating. However, these women form an unlikely bond, and somehow, find their ways out of the darkness... although not necessarily with their addicted husbands.
Perhaps that was what I liked most about The Wednesday Group: nothing was wrapped up in a pretty bow, because addiction doesn't work that way. In some cases, neither does friendship.
Through her five protagonists, True taught some very valuable lessons when it comes to forming, developing and keeping close female friends. Read on for tips.
1. Arrogance is not a good look
"I found something about her a little arrogant. Perhaps it's a way to avoid her pain, but I think it may deter others from opening up."
There's nothing wrong with confidence, but there's no need to rub it in other people's faces. When we meet a woman who seems super-full of herself, it's hard for us to relax and get to know her. Usually, we walk away. Again, it's good to be confident, but it's good to be approachable, because hey, nobody's perfect. And if you think you are, you probably don't have any friends.
2. Getting fancy can be good
"Let's dress up next week. Wear whatever makes us feel good."
Most of the time, women don't dress up for men; we dress up for other women. Get a group of girls together, all looking sharp, and that group emanates joy. So hey, why not suggest a night out, just the girls, and wear something special? Not for him. For you.
3. We need each other
"If life feels too horrible and you need to talk, call me."
Being a friend doesn't mean just being available for a movie date. Being a friend means being there for the messy stuff. It's important to lean on your significant other in times of trouble, but what if, on occasion, your significant other is the trouble? Call a girlfriend. She'll be there for you, and you need to be there for her.
4. Be a good listener
"Sometimes when we feel embarrassed about something, the best thing we can do is talk. I promise you'll feel better when you get it out."
Ever have a friend call just to ask about your day but you know she's got something else on her mind? Listen. Listen, listen, listen. Sometimes, that's all we need: a willing ear.
5. Share your demons
"You need to figure out what's best for you, and listening to what other people are going through can really help."
A dear friend of mine, Tiffany, recently shared her story of body dysmorphia. It was a brave thing for her to do, but in so doing, she hopefully reached other women who feel the same way. By being open about our issues, we can make other women feel not so alone, and maybe even save a life.
6. Physical touch is welcome (and needed)
"Hannah moves across the room, kneels beside Bridget, takes her hand. As she does, she realizes she will have to come here again."
Hug your girlfriends. Just hug them. Sometimes, that's all we need.
7. We're all very, very different, but that's not a bad thing
"I do feel bad. I just don't show it the same way."
Let's say you're super-upset about something, and your girlfriend just doesn't get it. Don't get mad at her. We're all different, and thank God for it. If we were all the same, we would never get the help or advice we need. It's nice to have a variety of input. It's nice to have that calm friend who can pull you back from the edge of the cliff.
8. Compliment your friends
"It's nice to see everyone. You all look beautiful."
No matter how your friend looks, whether she's sick and in PJs or glammed to the max, you can find something about her that's wonderful. Don't just think it; tell her. As women, we love compliments. Don't be stingy in your positive reinforcements.
9. Sometimes, cocktail hour is a must
"So, drinks at the bar around the corner?"
There are days when you need to go to yoga with your best gal pal. Then, there are days you need a martini.
10. Friendships come in all shapes and sizes
"Hannah was sure they'd be enemies, at best tolerate each other. But in an odd way, they make a happy pair."
We all have them: the girlfriends who seem to disagree on everything, yet they love being together. Even though their relationship might make no sense to you, it makes sense to them. Don't try to fix them or change them. Maybe fighting is their forte, and they love that about each other.
11. No need to apologize... unless you really need to apologize
"God, I'm an ass."
"Don't say that."
There are few things you can do to truly destroy a strong friendship. So if you got a little too drunk and weepy last night, stop obsessively saying, "I'm sorry." Your girlfriends get it. We all have our meltdowns. Be a mess, then move on. Your friends love you anyway.
12. Embrace the Friendship Effect
"How f***ing dare you? She stops and smiles. A few months ago, before she met Bridget, a phrase like that would never have grazed her thoughts."
Some people change you, and you shouldn't be scared of this. I've noticed that I pick up the vernacular of people I'm around a lot. Don't fight it. You're friends with other women because you're similar, but you're also different. You can learn from other women and develop because of their strengths. Embrace the change.
13. Know when to throw in the towel
"I think it would be wise if you and I terminated. I don't think anything useful can come out of this relationship."
Sometimes, friends are there but for a season. Don't weep. Just know when it's time to part ways.
14. Have your girl's back
"We have to look out for each other. I mean, if we don't, then who's going to be around to help us?"
Women are strong, ambitious and fabulous, but that doesn't mean we don't need help. If your girl is faltering, help her stand straight. There's a stigma that women are always in competition with each other. Break the stigma and stand up for your best gal. Be her cheerleader, and she will be yours.