For three nights, three gals journeyed to a home away from home to unwind, debrief, mourn. Monday morning we awoke late without a plan, just hungry enough to relax. Hash, prosciutto scrambled eggs, fresh cantaloupe–a breakfast, special, kind, luxurious.
The light, rich eggs an opening scene to our film. The sweet delicate cantaloupe and the gentle sun rays gliding through each window greeted us allowing a moment of warmth–the luxury. We broke our fast together fueling up for the day at the beach. Clothed in our favorite robes it began. Spring break–unpredictably lovely.
M, P, and I were here in a tiny, random town in Delaware far from where we came. November 2011, I met these two ladies during a challenging teaching year. Each of us had changed so much in the three years since our first meeting. Leaving behind our differences from years past, we gathered for a gentle vacation. It happened as a spur of the moment trip decided upon just the Wednesday before. The three of us have three things in common: we love food, good food, we have fabulous hair, and we are learning to be belly dancers.
Girls. Indescribable relationships. As long as I can remember, I have had a best friend. A girl who was there for me through thick and thin. It is in my girl friendships where I learned how to have a long-term relationship. I remember in middle school each Friday my BFF and I would fight over something ridiculous and not talk over the weekend. It was torture to have no access to her even for a minute let alone a day. Boundaries? There were none. I shared all the pieces of my life with all my girl friends. All of whom have seen me through dark times.
One part of these relationships though I have struggled with is feeling inferior to each of them at different times in my life. My middle school best friend; I believed her to be prettier than me. My high school best friend was smarter and cooler. My best friend in grad school was prettier, smarter, and more together than I could ever be. I compared and lost each time. In fact, I gave so much power to one of my friends that I still have trouble telling her that I don’t need her to take care of me.
What comes together however when girls become friends is similarities not differences. Yet it’s the differences that I have focused on in the past instead of celebrating them.
I am someone who needs to feel connected to others especially women. I often say that my friends know my insides and that is so rare and delicious at the same time. However, catch me spending more than a few days back to back with these friends and I can easily sink back into that inferior girl who cowers and puts herself below others.
What is it about my girl friends that makes me feel inferior?
False realities made up in my head. I make up these stories about each of them and their lives.
I give some of them power by not voicing my opinion clearly and setting a boundary. For example, a few of my beloved female girls were in my life when I was really angry and depressed about life. Although, I have moved through that stage, they sometimes still see me there. It’s hard for me to say: I don’t need help; I would like you to just listen.
Self Esteem. One would think that by now it wouldn’t be a question of self-esteem. But it can easily be one, if I let it. The truth is comparing and contrasting while an excellent skill for analyzing literature is not as valuable when evaluating one’s life. I used to have this habit, that can still rise if given room, of comparing myself obsessively to others, especially women. When I was a teen, it was comparing bodies. As I grew older, it turned into comparing intelligences, talent, skill, and bodies. It was/is the most annoying attribute. It took me years of practice to silence that part of me and instead to celebrate myself as an individual. Again, sounds like an elementary skill, but I still work on it in my adult years.
The antidote that allowed me to move forward was seeing my talents albeit different from my friends as valid and beautiful. Also, giving myself permission to be exactly me not matter who was around; this helped me to celebrate the differences and find endearing truths about all my friends. Focusing own each individual’s special qualities helped me to stop measuring them as above or below me.
What is it about girl friends that makes me feel good about myself?
Intimacy. In my best friendships, I learned how to confront and resolve matters so that we could still remain in each others lives.
It’s an intricate, complicated routine; one which I can pick up any day right where I left off. Spending time with anyone of them is like getting a massage. I walk away relaxed and relieved, wanting more. My favorite part– laughing, talking, being vulnerable, crying, being there, really there. Nothing is easier.
Last month I had the opportunity to take care of my high school best friend for one night only in the hospital. Although, she slept in a drug induced lumber in 2-4 hour increments–thank you saline for over-hydrating her! I woke at 7am from my final 3 hour nap feeling so satisfied, just from being in the same room as her. I was happy to have the time with her. Our lives have become so different and busy that we rarely had time to spend with each other. Yet, I know that when I need her she will be there next to me making me laugh whether it’s because her stubborn nature unplugs all the machines and attempts to walk to the bathroom on her own, hours after surgery, because we have memories that could be a New York Times Bestseller, because we have a past that is so connected.
Girl friends. Intimately connected. Filled with laughter and fond nostalgia with specific traditions–never fading. True Love. Magic.