I’ve been thinking a lot lately of women and our many flaws.  Of course, this can be attributed to my recent devouring of Marian Keyes books.  She is a woman who understands women.  I don’t know how, but I conjecture she has some understanding of psychology as well as some serious real life experience at being, well, a woman.

In Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Lucy is a twenty six year old with daddy issues.  Yes, I know, how stereotypical and overdone, etc. etc. BUT true, yeah?  Her daddy had a drinking issue she refused to see, pinning all the blame on her “mean” mother who never “had fun” with them and always made her daddy cry.  As such, Lucy tends to gravitate towards drunk and destitute men who use her for money (and she thinks she can change them, of course.)  Only when her mother leaves her father and Lucy takes up residence with him, does she come to realize the extent of her father’s problem.  In realizing it does she find where her own issues lie and the will to get beyond them…the will to love herself and know she deserves a good man.

Okay, so looking past the obvious story line, it’s written in Keyes’ trademark doom-and-gloom but witty style.  Lucy goes to a psychic who tells her she’s going to get married in a year, so she latches on to the first man she meets, even though it’s already obvious who she’s meant to marry.  Only by being burned (over and over until you want to jump through the pages and strangle her) and realizing her dad is a drunk and so are her boyfriends, can she find her way to happiness and the love that’s already there.

As the reader, you know the drunk boyfriend is a fool.  You know he’s using her, that he has a drinking and drug problem, that he’s probably two-timing her when he disappears for weeks on end – BUT SHE TAKES HIM BACK.  Goddess, this story is so stereotypical because it’s FUCKING TRUE.  Women do this stupid shit!  Every woman in the world wants to believe the best in her man, turning a blind eye to every problem that is completely obvious to her friends.

Even better at analyzing women’s irrationality is Last Chance Saloon. Tara, who clings to a jackass boyfriend because she’s so afraid of being alone.  Katherine, who rejects every man that comes on to her because she’s so afraid of rejection.  Two polar opposites, best friends who realize the other has serious issues with relationships but won’t admit their own issues.  Again, wonderfully written and so, so funny.  The path that leads the two of them to realize their own irrationalities is hard and long, but the end is heartwarming.  Every woman who stays in a relationship only because she can’t stand the thought of being alone should read this book.

That leads me to my further rant: watching one of your closest friends be this woman.  A beautiful, strong, confident woman with an amazing personality and an incredible sense of humor.  Yet, she bases her self worth on the men she dates – and like Keyes’ idiot boyfriend characters, they’ve all been charity cases who have done nothing but wear down my friend’s self-esteem and make her cling even tighter because she literally freaks out when she’s alone.  Depression, suicidal, etc.  One boyfriend couldn’t keep a job and was a toxic, toxic man.  The first time I spent any amount of time around him, he insulted me.  Right then and there, I realized she was in a terrible relationship.  Each time thereafter, I saw his mind games, his insults, his USE of her.  When he broke her heart, as inevitable, I just sighed and did my best to help her pick up the pieces.  She wasn’t alone for any amount of time before she found someone else, then broke that off and moved on to another man.  This one, in an “open” relationship and sleeping with three women at once.  I don’t give a damn who you are – you can not trust a man like that.  He obviously can not love, can not commit.  But my friend was so absolutely certain she could change him, that she was the one he would fall in love with.

So, what can a friend do in these situations but stand by and wait until she’s needed?  One can tell their friend over and over how terrible the man is, but it won’t do any good.  Especially when they fall so hard and so quickly, those love blinders are super glued on.

Here’s the even bigger dilemma – every woman in the world has done this.  I ruined my life over a man five years ago.  It was the absolute worst decision I’ve ever made and I’m still reaping the consequences.  It took a complete crash to the bottom of the dung heap and having to return home with my tail between my legs before I could see my own toxic life.  I found myself.  I found comfort in being alone.  I learned to tell others no and tell myself yes; I dropped the piece of crap I dated in Nashville (who I could only then realize was a drug addict and as toxic to my life as he could be).  I made plans and bought my ticket to Ireland, took my life in my hands and started making my dreams come true.  And then, only then, did I become healthy both psychologically and emotionally.  Because of that, the goddess saw fit to give me Andrew, who is my love, my best friend, my co-conspirator, my biggest fan.  I approach our relationship in a healthy, non-dependent way; I know now that I need my space, my own identity.  My identity has nothing to do with my boyfriend; it’s mine, and I have a small, second identity that is with him.  I will not change my future or stop making my dreams come true just because of him.  Yet, I love him; I love being with him, sharing my every day hopes and dreams and problems with him.

I’ve found the balance that I wish every woman could find.

Especially my best friend.

So, I love Marian Keyes.  Everyone should read her, everyone should take to heart the lessons she teaches through her amazing stories.