Throughout my life there have been many obstacles and situations I’m convinced I wouldn’t have gotten through without the help of my friends. When I was in High School and my parents were going through their divorce, I spent a LOT of time with my two BFF’s. I’m sure their parents alternately thought they had acquired another daughter somewhere along the way. I even went on family vacations with their families! We did everything together. (Especially of the things-I-wouldn’t-want-my-kids-doing variety.) And it was usually the three of us with an occasional fourth mixed in. It was the perfect escape for the emotional roller coaster that was my family life at the time. I am still connected to them and have a deep sense of acceptance when I am with them. Like they’ve known me most of my life, through some of the worst versions of myself, and they still love me for who I am.
In college I had an entirely new experience. An ALL GIRL dorm!! It was at first extremely intimidating. I had never been part of a large group of girl-friends. I didn’t know how to function in such a situation. I still think it was by accident that my college friends accepted me as one of their own. There were about 8 of us on our wing that became extremely close and stayed so for the entire 4 years we were there (even though we all moved out of the dorm after the 2nd year). It was a time of growth for me in developing female friendships. And it was the first time I realized that some friendships take a lot of work. There was a bonding that happened as we became women that was sincere and respectful in a different way than with my High School friends.
It wasn’t until I was even older, however, that I really understood the value of the women in my life. (Probably because I was always so focused on finding the love of my life…UGH, so much wasted time). In fact, the female bond was something I didn’t yet fully understand, and because of that I fear I hadn’t always been a great friend. Especially if being a great friend requires being good at keeping in touch. In that case – I SUCKED (and still do…grr)!! AND I hope any of my friends reading this understands that I realize this about myself and I am truly sorry.
It was during many of my married years that I came to realize the importance of female friendship and it was the time I had the least of it in my life. It was something I actually yearned for. By this time my High School friends were living a life I didn’t fit into and my College Friends were doing the same thing I was…starting a marriage/career/family. And none of us lived near each other. Not surprisingly I was the first of all my friends (outside of my church) to get married. And maybe because of it, there was a huge void in my life that only female companionship could fill. It was another time of growth for me as I had to learn to be a better friend to others. There are times we have to give what we want to receive before we are ready for it to be given to us. I joined groups and spent time with other women I met at church, but I didn’t feel completely satisfied. Instead I felt I couldn’t be myself with them, that I had to be what they thought I should be. I now understand that this had more to do with my own insecurities than anyone I was friends with. I was my own blockade. Regardless (and thankfully) I did gain some awesome friends during this season of my life.
I now have an amazing network of girlfriends. Some of them I’ve know for forever and some for only a few years. They are all so special to me. Each in their individual ways. I know I can be myself without fear that they’ll judge me…and they forgive me if/when I am not the best person to be around. They are there for me when I need to vent and I’m pretty sure they all know that goes both ways. They endured my crying over the unfairness of it all during my separations, and celebrated with me when it was all over. (Yes! We celebrated my divorce and I would do it again.) They alternately let me stay with them or stayed with me when my children were at their dad’s because I hated to be alone at night. They were readily available for shopping therapy and fashion advice as I re-designed myself. They have been my support, and many times my strength, through some of my most difficult moments.
I have yet to find a substitute to the healing power a female friendship can offer.