In real life, women have taught me 75% of the things I need to know to survive. A woman taught me how to pray, how to scramble eggs, and how to keep Vaseline on me in case my thighs chafe – all necessary lessons for survival. Even now, women teach me how to be compassionate, patient, giving as well as assertive, driven, and respected. There are, however, a handful of women who are close enough to me to teach me the life changing kind of lessons. They are the ones with whom I am in close relationship and share the most sensitive parts of my life. They are the women I’ve chosen or been chosen by to build intimacy.
I thought to write this post while at my book club meeting last week. It was litty. We popped bottles, blasted music, and twerked our backs sore. Actually, none of those things happened. After I wrote the word “litty” those images came to mind so I wanted to write it. All fiction. In real life, we’re responsible 30 something’s with careers and two of the women are pregnant. So . . . maybe a few of the ladies sipped wine and that’s about the most that happened by way of litness. We did have a super great conversation though, and one of the themes was friendship between women. It’s something special, and they’ve taught me some valuable lessons.
1. Friendships ebb and flow but the love doesn’t. If you are in close relationship with anyone – a colleague, family member, neighbor, best friend, spouse, etc – you’ll soon recognize that the ease with which you connect can sometimes be a breeze and other times a drag. I think it’s realistic to expect that there will be times when all you want to do is hang with Susan and other times when she isn’t the first person you’d think to call. The frequency with which this happens will vary depending on the connection and maybe the longevity of the relationship. I grew distant with one of my hometown friends right after college. Then, for whatever reason or probably because of the reason we initially became friends, we became close again. She taught me how to be in communion with someone with a different perspective, how to flex to their preferences while standing strong on my own until we could meet in the middle again.
2. Communication is more than speaking. Everyone knows communication is one of the most important things in a relationship. The thing is everyone thinks they’re awesome at it because they know how to speak. Beware, my friend, because speaking is not the point. Communication has to be tailored to the audience and listening is key. Catch it because I’m giving it to you fast. Communication is the sharing of thoughts (ideas, emotions, etc). The only way I’ll know what is required adequately share a thought is to invest the time to get to know the person with whom I’m sharing. It requires genuine interest on my part. It requires listening. I’ve got to learn how she views the world, what she prioritizes, what will make her upset, and what brings her joy. I’m having a communication issue with a friend now. She’s teaching me to be gentle and to give it time.
3. Loving people from a distance is clutch. I’ve had some girlfriends whom I’ve had to let go and some who let go of me. If it’s natural for some relationships to stick forever and for some to ebb and flow, then it’s equally natural for some to end. That’s the way life goes and it’s okay. I had one friend in particular that I thought would be a life long friend but who is not my friend now. To my knowledge, there are no hard feelings but there was an intentional severance of that relationship. She taught me how to insist on the way I will be treated and how to respond to someone else when they insist on it for themselves.
Intimate friendships with women will teach you a thing or three and I’ll be the first to say that these lessons don’t always feel good in the moment. Every now and then I want to throw away all the people in my life and hide under a rock because it can be hard to be in relationship with others. But let me tell you the sweetness of being known, understood, vulnerable, or even being silly with someone else. It’s candy sweet. The good kind too.