The Oklahoman

Finding the people in your life who know ‘just what you mean’

- Your Life Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at .

“I Know Just What You Mean” is the title of a book written by Pulitzer prizewinni­ng columnist Ellen Goodman and her longtime friend Patricia O’Brien, a novelist-journalist. It is a book about the power of friendship in women’s lives.

My women friends come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Some have been a part of my life for over 50 years. Others are more recent. Some I see often, others only occasional­ly, but the connection remains. As the daughter of a preacher, I grew up amid women’s groups. I do not remember ever having a babysitter, and when I was an infant there were no church nurseries. It was a time and a place where a mother took her child with her or she stayed home, but as the pastor’s wife, staying home was seldom an option for my mom. She just took me along.

When women talk with each other, they typically find a place of connection. If you’re divorced, chances are they or someone in their family is also. If you’ve had a family member die, so have they. If you are going through a rough patch, they’ve been there. If you find great joy in your children or grandchild­ren, they share your feeling. During the conversati­on, you will often hear, “I know just what you mean.”

Wise women know that children come and go and a spouse may die, but the camaraderi­e they share with their friends is something they can count on to see them through the darkest of times.

Women friends serve as confessors and advisers during romantic, career and child-raising crises. They shop together, laugh together, celebrate and cry together.

They keep each other company through the dark times. It is within these friendship­s that women do the work of their lives.

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