Early in my divorce process, I had a single mom friend who had been divorced for 7 or 8 years. We work in the same industry, she was funny and cool, and we really hit it off. She commiserated with me as I went through all the hating and drama and blaming. The insane highs and lows that are inherent in the trauma that is divorce. Plus, like me, my single mom friend often had weekends free to hang out. She dated and loved sex! I was so grateful for her friendship! She got it! I was not alone!
But a year or so into my separation, I started to find my groove. Life calmed down. My kids and I found our new routine. My business started to really take off. I found myself in a relationship. Things weren't chaotic or horrible any more. Things were pretty good. It looked like they would only get better.
My single mom friend? Still all drama, all the time. She had a good job in her field of choice. But her boss treated her like shit — and had for SIX YEARS. She complained constantly about this man. But when I asked what she was doing to change her work situation, or offered solutions, she systematically responded with excuses. While I was intoxicated by my new professional success and income — just as my child support and health benefits came to an abrupt end — she complained on and on (and on and on and on and on) about her ex's professional failures and her resentment for having to shoulder all the financial burden of raising their kids.
Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this:
When people remarked how great I looked — something I attribute to a deep, inner happiness — I noticed that my friend wasn't looking so good. She is a naturally beautiful woman, fit and with fantastic style. But her face was always drawn into an exaggerated, almost comical frown. She walked hunched over.
As I started to thrive in my new phase of life, I started to see my single mom friend as inherently miserable.
I just didn't want to hang out with her any more.
I felt guilty about that. I mean, she was my friend, right?! You don't just ditch your friends! Plus, she is a single mom like me. We're supposed to stick together — right?
Well, no. WRONG.
I compared this friendship with my other single mom friend, Morghan, who I write about often here. Our single mom trajectories are parallel – we divorced around the same time and our kids, the same ages, have grown up together. I launched this blog around the same time she launched her own family law firm, and we have consistently supported one another in brainstorming business strategies, making connections and referrals, and appearing in each other's media efforts.
Morghan is killing it in business (just like me!) and we are so, so proud of each other.
Yes, we still gripe about our exes some times. Yes, clients and vendors and colleagues and KIDS can be a pain in the ass — and we tell each other about those annoyances.
But she is a single mom and she is not a victim, and therefore she is still my very close single mom friend.
She brings value and joy to my life.
My other single mom friend brought value and some joy, too. For a time. Then that friendship ran its course. It served me for a time, and then it didn't any more.
We simply grew apart.
Since then I have connected with so many other friends. As I grow into my own joy — in my business, my service to others, my creative life, my mothering, my sexuality, my WOMANHOOD — I have found that magically, I have attracted so many other amazing people on similar paths.
Beautiful, dynamic single moms — some starting out on their amazing single mom journey, others already in their full power — and all phases in between!
Others are unmarried, childless women.
Unbelievable colleagues of all types.
Men who have been my colleagues, friends, lovers, boyfriends.
My own children, who are growing into optimistic, engaged and otherwise totally delightful humans whose point of view I cherish.
These are people I chose to spend time with. That matters. Who you surround yourself with matters. Science is on my side with this. If your friends smoke, you are more likely to smoke. If your friends are overweight, you are likely, too. Divorced? Your friends are next!
I have started to see people in one of two camps:
- Victims who give their power and ability to be happy away to others by blaming the world for their own shortcomings.
- Everyone else.
I just don't have time for victims. They are on a different course. That is fine, but I don't want to hang out with you. I don't want to do business with you, and I don't think you're a good influence for my kids.
And so I don't call my old friend. I see her around, and she is a nice and good person. I wish her the best. But she kills my mojo. Call me sensitive, I don't care. There are too many other awesome people who will are in my camp, living full lives and taking responsibility for their happiness.
If you have that toxic friend, that single mom friend — even if she is the only other single mom in your own town! — it is OK to distance yourself from her. You will be kind, but it may be painful for both of you. But doing so is a gift to yourself. By saying ‘no' to that friendship you are telling yourself: “I am a positive person who is capable great things, and manifesting my own greatness!”
You can't keep that truth alive if you spend energy on others who suck yours.
Even other single moms.
This is one of the reasons I created Millionaire Single Moms, my Facebook group of 1,000 moms who are DREAMING BIG for their lives, and are FORBIDDEN from whining or playing victim. These are my women! Some have huge corporate jobs, others are hustling as they start new businesses, others transitioning from staying home with their kids back into the workforce — and everything in between. But they are positive, smart, real and, generally so awesome.
Just today a new member wrote:
I was excited to see this group because, locally, all the single mom groups have very low expectations for themselves. They seem to be more about how they can get everything from everyone else instead of going out and getting it themselves. This is refreshing!
Today I give you permission to shed from your life toxic people. I also invite you to join our group of awesome people — Awesome single moms, to be exact!
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.