*Originally published 3/14/2012
There was a time when I didn’t have many female friends. I didn’t trust a lot of females. That was because I had a lot of negative experiences with females in my life- backstabbing, manipulation, competitiveness- the standard negative female stereotypes. I endured them all.
Being around males was always a lot easier, simpler, and more fun for me. I didn’t have to work so hard with guys. There were more subjects open for conversation and less judgment. I love my male friendships. A lot. Always have, always will.
But a few years ago circumstances changed my life. And those circumstances led to profound transformation- with a lot of hard work along the way (white knuckling my way through it all). You’ll hear me talk of this a lot, or, rather, you’ll read me writing of this a lot, because it has been the sole focus of my life in those several years (and because my ego still insists that I include that information when talking about my life) All that mattered at that time- everything that mattered– was getting myself through it. I’m on the other side now, with a plethora of new information, lessons, understandings, and gifts to show for it.
One of the lessons I learned was that not all female relationships are negative. It was just the types of women girls that I was considering friends, sisters, hetero-life-mates, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, not every single female relationship I’ve had has been negative, but the ones that were left me with a distorted view of what female bonding really meant.
So, in all of the intense soul-searching, personal development, self-exploration… WORK that I’ve done (with some wonderful help from a great [male] therapist) I learned how to seek out positive female relationships and role models in my life. Of course the most important positive female relationship I had to work on was the one with myself, which will always be a work in progress, and like all relationships it can be challenging. But outside of the internal work, I am also, more and more all the time, realizing how special female bonding can be and how truly important sisterhood is.
I think it’s easy to glaze over all of the issues that women still face, together, in the world today and when females can support each other, love each other, treat each other with respect, dignity and honor it can be a really extraordinary shared experience.
What brings this all up for me is the fact that I saw an old friend today, someone I hadn’t seen in a few years. And she’s going through a rough time. Very similar to the rough time I went through a few years ago. I saw her pain and I remembered it so well. She’s in the thick of it. And I wished there was something I could’ve said or done to ease her pain. But that pain is just part of the process.
Sitting across from her, as we shared our stories and her eyes welled up with tears from time to time, I saw something and someone so beautiful. I saw the strength in her that she can’t see. I saw the invisible rope from God, or Allah, or… Oprah, or whoever- that is slowly pulling her along. I saw the miraculous journey that she is on. I saw the sparks of a fire within that she thinks has been snuffed out. I saw the spirit that is struggling to emerge. I saw the birth that is causing such tremendous labor pains. I saw the woman that she doesn’t yet know that she will become from this.
And I was reminded of the beauty of female bonding and sisterly support. I was reminded of how special it is, in a way that can’t really be explained, that there are women who can offer empathy without judgment, support without manipulation, love without control.
I hope that every woman (and man) who reads this will take a moment to send a loving prayer to this friend of mine- a sister who has fallen, and needs a lift- and to any other woman they know who needs it. Because sometimes a little outside help from strangers can work wonders. And because, well, she’s on my mind.