I’ve just moved to a new city (husband’s work) and have been adopted by a group of moms at my son’s school. It’s headed by a woman I will call Stacy. Stacy had us all to dinner and drilled me with so many questions about home — which I miss terribly — that I started to cry. I think she liked seeing me weak, so she could assert her superiority. I love the other women, but I feel intimidated and embarrassed now. Am I being paranoid?
Dear Fish Out of Water,
No, you are not being paranoid. Trust your instincts. There is a Stacy in every group, and in her wolfish way, she is initiating you — undoing your confidence to emphasize her own. Don’t fret; she will tire of her own game — as long as you don’t play into it.
Here’s how: Create some space for yourself. Be warm and kind toward her, but when she extends an invitation, send your regrets. Take comfort in the knowledge that she has probably done this to every woman in the group; it is her compulsion. She is the odd one out. But the reality is that Stacy is not going anywhere; your friendships with the other women are likely contingent on, if slightly hostage to, your friendship with her.
The key lies in practising basic survival skills. Protect yourself from the person who made you feel bad. It’s always useful to ask a question women rarely ask themselves: How is this good for me? This group of women is giving you the sense of community you lost when you made the heart-wrenching trip from home. Enjoy it, and focus on the part of it that is good for you, Stacy or no Stacy.