A CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital – Friendships
A CAN DO Woman Builds Social Capital through Her Friendships
Welcome back. Today we’ll discuss how a CAN DO Woman builds her social capital through friendships.
Last week was Week 1 of our 12 Month CAN DO Woman Program with discussion of the various types of friendships — using the concept of social capital. And we provided you with your first action to take in becoming the woman you want to be. Next week, we share the three different types of friendships and how each enriches your life.
Scroll Down to This Week’s Program If You Have Already Finished Action 1
Perhaps unexpectedly, last week we focused on being your own best friend. We self-talk all the time and often that talk brings us down — makes us think less of ourselves. It sounds brutal to say this, but sometimes we bully ourselves with statements like:
- “Why am I so dumb?”
- “I should have known better than to believe him.”
- “Everyone I know is successful and I barely get by.”
- “I’m applying for a new job but I’m sure I won’t get it.”
- “I’m never organized.”
Self Friendship Action from Last Week
Did you take the action we suggested last week? We hope so. Your challenge was to write 5 statements affirming what you like about yourself. If you didn’t write the list, we suggest you take 10 minutes, right now, and accomplish that action. We modeled the action on statements you might say about a good friend:
- “You are always so positive.”
- “You work really hard.”
- “You keep up friendships even when you are super busy.”
- “You are always learning new things.”
- “You are open to new experiences and that makes you fun to be with.”
Now go ahead and write positive statements about yourself.
- “I’m …”
- “I work hard …”
- “I can…”
Still uncertain? OK. We want this to work for you and if you feel uncomfortable writing 5 positive sentences about yourself, write just 2.
Why? Friendship is the basis of Social Capital, one of the capitals that helps us have a fulfilling life. Being your own friend is one way to be a better friend to others. Friendships keep us centered, encourage us, support our needs and our goals.
Taking one small action each week, the basis of this CAN DO Woman Program, starts right now (or last week, if you have already created your list).
CAN DO Woman Needs Social Capital — On to This Week’s Program
Diane Boxwood’s Story of Friendships–Eventually Having Social Capital
I promised last week to share the story of Diane Boxwood. Like most of us, her unhappiness developed slowly as her self-confidence went lower and lower. Her story took place over a period of 20 years. Even the length of time covered in her story helps us see that both the good in our lives and the bad don’t usually happen overnight.
When I interviewed Diane, she had come out of a long period of just “getting by”, without understanding why. She had accepted that she would be depressed and unhappy. She didn’t think she deserved happiness and joy. Here’s what she said:
Diane Boxwood Tells Her Story
“My future husband was in the Army when we met. We hit it off right away and corresponded for about five years, but rarely saw each other during that time. Then, in one of his letters, he suggested I come and visit him in Idaho for a vacation.
“I went and we had a great time. So great a time that he proposed to me and we married soon afterwards. A few years later, I had a son. I was busy with family life, but by the time our son was six, I knew my marriage was unraveling. I did a number of things to save our marriage—everything I could think of—but nothing seemed to make it better. Counseling didn’t help. He wouldn’t go, but I did. I tried being more attentive to his needs, but he didn’t seem to care.
“My husband didn’t find me attractive and so wanted no physical contact. He didn’t even seen to like my company and that meant I spent a lot of time alone. Needless to say, I was unhappy but didn’t know what to do about it. I kept remembering how I had thought we were so in love. He was always a good father and he was kind, although distant, to me. The circumstances didn’t seem to merit a divorce. Maybe I wouldn’t ever be attractive to someone. And so my descent into unhappiness made its slow but unwavering way.
20 Years Pass and a Sense of a CAN DO Woman Has Disappeared
“Twenty years later, we were having our carpet replaced, and I went down to the basement to get out of the workers’ hair. My husband had his study as well as a television down there. I was watching TV when I happened to put my hand down in the cushion and felt a magazine. I pulled it out and saw it was a magazine for gay males.
“I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that he was gay. But I didn’t say anything. What could I say?
“About a month later, I was in the basement again when the phone rang. I answered it and sat down at his computer desk to talk. I happened to look over at his printer and saw pages in the tray. It looked like a conversation so I read it. Oh, my god. He had been on the Internet with other gay men.
“I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking, “How could he marry me knowing he was gay?” I realized that was why we hadn’t had sex all these years. It didn’t have anything to do with my physical attractiveness.
“I thought for years and years—and this is why my self-esteem went down to nothing—that he wasn’t attracted to me. I always tended to internalize everything.
He Was Out of Town..
“My husband was out of town when I found the Internet conversation message. I put a note on the kitchen table saying I knew he was gay, I’d flown home, and we’d talk after I got back.
“When I returned, he told me he went berserk and considered suicide when he read my note. I said, “I had no idea that you cared how I felt. I thought you’d be glad to get rid of me.”
“He explained that by getting married and having a child, he felt he was solving a problem because in the ‘60s you didn’t come out. In fact, his family only learned he was gay when we divorced. He was just living a lie. He gave me a month to get used to the fact that he was leaving.
He told me I Would Have to Make Friends
“He knew I shouldn’t stay in the house by myself and not have any friendship outlets. He told me to get some friends. I’d spent all those many years with just my family as my only friends. After he left, I felt like I’d been put on a desert island all by myself. I cried and cried and cried. I had asked him to stay but he refused. I said, “You can continue your lifestyle. I just don’t want to know about it.” Now I see that it wouldn’t have worked but at the time he was my security blanket.
At First I Was Angry
“After he left, I was very angry, but then I forgave him because what else are you going to do? He is a very kind man and a good father. Everybody tells me I’m so wonderful and asks, “How can you forgive him?” I say, “He didn’t ask to be born that way. He wasn’t bad to me.” I’ve since learned that there are thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of us out there who had husbands that kept their homosexuality a secret. I had no idea.
“Now I’ve developed a wonderful friendship circle and I have a very satisfying social life. I have great friends and go out almost every weekend with someone. They support me and my goals. They don’t put me down and when I feel down they support me.
“I didn’t think that I could ever be happy.
“But I am.”
CAN DO WOMAN FRIENDSHIP LESSON LEARNED FROM DIANE
- What can be learned from Diane’s story?
- How does it help us examine our own lives.
- How do friendships help us on a path to being a CAN DO Woman?
The time Diane’s story took place might seem to be quite different. And fortunately, not as many people feel the social need to hide their sexual orientation now. But the lesson is still there. Unhappiness, of any kind, can cause one to avoid friendships and become isolated.
The isolation might be caused by unhappiness with one’s professional or personal life. It could be caused by low self esteem. It might be caused by personality type. But if you do not have at least a couple of close friends, you are cheating your own life. You are making it harder to be a CAN DO Woman. The rewards of friendship are many and include both physical health benefits and mental health benefits.
TAKE YOUR CAN DO WOMAN ACTION THIS WEEK
You get the point about the value of friendships. Clearly the pandemic has altered your interactions with others. If not, consider yourself extremely lucky because most of us have found it difficult to maintain the same ties we had before the pandemic.
Fortunately, you now can take the opportunity to decide which friendships really matter to you and which ones don’t add to your life.
During this coming week, take just one action to renew a friendship that you value.
ACTION: Here’s this week’s action challenge for becoming the CAN DO Woman you want to be.
- Think about friends that you’ve lost track of OR simply have not been in touch with for the past year.
- Make a list of 3 such friends.
- Next to each name write what you value about that friend. Is she supportive of you? Does she bring laughter to your life? Does she introduce you to new ideas? Do you find her trustworthy? Is she compassionate? Do you value her honesty?
- Friendships are two way streets. Also write what you contribute to the friendships. In what ways do you think the 3 friends value you?
- Make contact with one of these friends this week. REACH OUT TODAY. Based on what you wrote next to the names, choose the one you realize you have missed the most and is the most supportive of your goals.
- What kind of contact? You could call the person, send her a text or email, or arrange to get together for a meal or a walk. What really matters is that you build back the friendship, making it even stronger.
- If you are starting a journal (or computer file) about your progress on becoming a CAN DO Woman, make notes on this Week 2 ACTION.
CAN DO Woman Action…It’s Easy
That’s it. That is all you need to do this week. Just reach out to one friend you haven’t been in close contact with over the past year. You will have taken the second step in being a better friend by understanding what you value in a friend and what you contribute to the friend. Your action helps you keep or renew the friendship.
Becoming a CAN DO Woman…
Taking such simple actions will not change you overnight. But you are now started along the path to a more empowered life. You will have taken action. You will be reconnected or better connected to a friend. You will be starting to think about the woman you want to be …the kind of friend you want to be. And you will have taken this second step in understanding and building Social Capital, one of the seven life capitals that leads to you being a CAN DO Woman.
CAN DO Woman – Eleanor Roosevelt
COMING NEXT WEEK —Month 1: Week 3
Next week, we’ll share several stories of how friendships can open new paths for you…it isn’t as obvious as it seems. We hope you’ll join us then.
Oh by the way…
Did you see our Can Do Woman recipe earlier this week? If not, here’s the link.
And be sure to look for next week’s Can Do Woman recipe.