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Swift: It takes a village to grow friendship in Tammyland

One of the best outcomes of my new single life has been a renewed connection with other women.

It’s not like I’m one of those women who is female-phobic. I was born in a very girly household to a strong mother. I have always been lucky enough to have women friends.

These groups of connections have defined the trajectory of my life. My very first junior high friends, when I was feeling lonely and unpopular. My high school friends, who snuck out with me to go to keggers. Later, my college friends, who brazenly took me to keggers. The friends with whom I shared my deepest secrets. My work friends. My other single, 20-something friends. And later, my married friends, who typically came matched with a husband.

One person (a once-divorced man, actually) had warned me that divorce would help me determine who my real friends were. The friends would be divvied up by the two parties, much like kitchen appliances and gardening tools.

Sadly, this happened. Some friends have faded away. Some don’t know how to talk to me after the breakup. Others keep in touch, but have less in common with me now that they’re still married. It’s been a painful culling-out process, but also an important and enlightening one.

But, as all bad also ushers in good, so have I reaped huge awards. I no longer live in a rural area, which always made it easy for me to cocoon and isolate. Now that I’m closer to the heart of things, I have met an incredible band of women (and, to be fair, a few men) who have supported me when I was at my most broken.

It has taken a village to keep Tammy sane during these trying times. Some of those friends are nurturers. Some are “tough love” practitioners, who tell me exactly what I need to hear, even if it hurts. Some are mirror images of myself. And some simply inspire me with their wisdom.

They are not all women I would necessarily have once considered as friends. One of them is an older woman whose life is a constant example. She always dresses to the nines, and she can always inspire a belly laugh. More importantly, she is filled with a common-sense wisdom that can only come from a lifetime of experience.

Another friend seems to have ETP (Extra Tammy Perception). She always instinctively knows to call when I need help most. A couple of friends will set me straight when my brain is trapped in Tammyland, and will help me separate fear-based thoughts from fact.

One friend is my “crazy twin.” We aren’t afraid to admit to each other that we’re feeling completely agitated and illogical. We text each other messages like, “I love you for loving me when I’m crazy.” Others simply make me feel better by making me howl with laughter.

Still others just love me the way I am, and aren’t afraid to let me know that. One woman innately sensed that I was struggling over the holidays and suggested – actually, insisted – I come over for an all-girls’ baking day. I tried to beg off and showed up a couple of hours late, but it turned out to be a joy-filled afternoon of frosting cookies and giggling.

I feel incredibly grateful to have it. It has kept me hopeful in times of dark, centered in times of chaos and connected in times of lonely. Most importantly, it has made me feel loved, which is something that every single human being – regardless of how outwardly strong or indifferent – needs.

It brings a whole new meaning to the old term, “Ladies Aid.”

It’s my community.

Call it a wommunity.