DEAR HARRIETTE: My two best friends are successful women -- great jobs, married with kids, huge houses -- but I'm not, and I'm feeling quite depressed about the situation.
We've been best friends for about 10 years, and we've never had a problem with jealousy. My girls have supported me through my bad breakups and mishaps, and I have done the same for them. I'm really troubled by my envious feelings, which are currently out of my control.
Why am I feeling like this? It is really selfish of me. Harriette, please help! I'm afraid my feelings will show the next time we get together. -- Jealous, Greensboro, N.C.
DEAR JEALOUS: You are experiencing the delusion of "the grass is always greener," which tells you that your friends have better lives than you do. And on the outside, it may seem so. They have the things most people say they want.
But even if your friends are happy, trust that they are dealing with issues that cause them stress, just like you are. Their struggles may be different, but no one is without struggle.
Instead of envying your friends' lives, be grateful for the friendships you have. Do what my mother taught me when I was a child: Count your blessings. Especially when times get tough, literally write down the good things that you can claim about your life. Interestingly, you will likely include your friends. This may help to calm your envious feelings.
Because you are so close to these women, it's OK for you to tell them about your current discomfort. You can say that you are feeling envious about their lives, even though you know it's not right. Explain that you mean them no harm but that you are wrestling with the reality of your life -- that you aren't married, that you don't have the big job or house, and that their success reminds you of what you don't yet have. Chances are that they will open up to you about the pros and cons of their lives. Your friendships may become stronger.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend's birthday is coming up, and she has invited me to her birthday party. We have few mutual friends, so if I go, I will not know many people there.
I want to go to the party to be there for her, but I am afraid I will end up clinging to her because I won't know anyone else. I obviously don't want to monopolize her time or annoy her on her special day, so I am having a bit of a dilemma. Should I go to the party or say I am busy that day? -- Odd One Out, Shreveport, La.
DEAR ODD ONE OUT: Go to the party. Decide that you will make it a mission to meet and connect with your friend’s friends. Be gracious and leave when you become uncomfortable. You can do this.