"If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." -Anne Morrow Lindbergh-
Blog updated: July 18, 2013.
In elementary school, you and your friends shared and borrowed pencils, erasers, paper, cookies, bandages, seats, swings, gloves, hair clips, ice-cream, colds, flu's and so much more!
In middle school, you borrowed or shared cafeteria fries, (yes, WITH gravy!) obnoxious laughs, sun-glasses, head phones, perfume and gossip about boys..oh, perhaps even an asthma puffer!
In high school you learned to share tears, (while the mascara ran and ran and ran down) broken hearts, laughs, maybe even cigarettes, tsk tsk - bus rides home, favorite Cd's, forbidden experiences, clothing, books, lockers, gym shirts, bus tickets, lipstick and hair spray; helped each other sneak out of the house, and take the blame when you didn't have to. You were always sharing and giving a part of yourself to the other, whether it be your sister(s) or best friend(s).
But I'm left with a question that still lingers on as the relationship between sisters and friends, between women grow to be an important focus in today's modern century as the spirit of sisterhood will always be a large part of a woman's life.
My question is: What can you do to be a better friend or sister to your fellow female friends and sisters?
Can this sharing and bond be pushed further and are we doing enough to recognize what we stand for WITH each other and FOR each other - in order to truly allow the the other person, our mirror images, or "kindred spirit's" to grow, to inspire, to empower, to be courageous, and respectful and beautiful and strong as we are? Or are we placing barriers in front of our fellow sisters and friends, discouraging the other, abusing, putting down, taking for granted, becoming envious, resentful, critical, doubtful and competitive with? Are we harming a good relationship, by being mean spirited, harsh, insecure and condescending towards the other?
If we are, what is the difference between this and school bullying? Nothing.
Could we not just be honest and willful to remain genuine, to remain fair, loyal, to reveal our intentions and values openly, to ask for help openly, and be confidently devoted, sincere and open with our actions, when we talk, when we ask for advice, when we share & breath the same elements that create and yet also challenge our natures- the nature of sisterhood? Can we not be civil yet true? Should we not have some humility? After all, we are all the same deep down - nurturers, care givers, mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses and "feminine" from the very chemical roots of our 'make up'. We are what mother nature is - raw, wild, free and yet forgiving.
Is this element not love? Is this element not truth? Is this element not strength shared between the other coded with open and honest communication? Why must there be a curtain of discomfort? Why must there be harboring of doubts? More importantly, what's wrong with getting out of hand and speaking up bit, being raw and open and honest? Such actions that derive from honesty, forthrightness, courage, love and genuine respect for the other "sister" not only strengthens the bond between sisters and friends, but strengthens the spiritual culture of sisterhood and the way women interact with each other everyday.
Superficiality dies quickly, fair weather friendships are a waste of time, disrespecting each other, leads to disrespecting oneself as a woman- so why play with each other? Why lose faith and choose competition, catty behavior, mistrust, envy and discouraging actions to set the foundation for you relationships with your "sisters."
For example, is undermining or mistrusting a woman's strength to love you as a friend necessary? What about the woman who is a police officer, lawyer or in the army fighting for her country - is she too strong? Will you acknowledge her honor any less than- compared to a man's role and position in such powerful positions or careers? And by doing this as a woman - what does this say about yourself? About how you love or value yourself?
I don't like to compare - and this is not a comparison but a mere honest personal observation and realization - but sometimes I'm led to believe that men make exceptionally better friends to each other - the support, brotherly love and "I got you bro" or "I got you man" attitude is quite inspiring and it's truly amazing to see the consistency of their honor and bond with each other (in majority of the cases at least) without the other feeling obligated, awkward, constantly critical, envious or uncomfortable.
Ladies, I'm just being honest - no need to get your panties all tangled up! I used to think it was the other way around, that women truly respected and protected each others honor and essence, specially in the face of challenge- but sadly, it's not always the case.
If two men ended up at a party wearing the same shirt, they'd have a great laugh and become the best of friends. If two women ended up at a party wearing the same outfit, one women would eventually feel awkward, flustered and somehow resent the other - yes, an envious and competitive aura would develop between the two women, even if it's unintentional and just subconscious.
Sadly, the phrase "she's a bitch" is used way too often - whether it's in high school, graduate school, at home or in the office. And it's a lame excuse for not creating healthier relationships with our fellow sisters. By enabling such attitudes and integrating it into our daily lives - we start to embody a "bitter" disposition. Yes, bitter - and cultivate hate, envy and spiritual segregation as apposed to uniting together and working to make this world, our motives and our more important relationships - better.
Point is - women have either been programmed through social culture pressures and norms for centuries to think and feel like this, or maybe we're not given enough recognition or support as children - and maybe some of us feel more inclined to feel "threatened" by "the other," rather than inspired or confident - or maybe we're lacking a sense of humor with each other all together! It could also be our biological make-up. I'm not sure - enlighten me - but the point is - it doesn't have to be this way. For example, we don't have to go around bursting out friends bubble - just because we're not on the same social, economical or spiritual level. We can sincerely choose to tame our competitive natures.
I speak out of experience ladies, sadly being on the receiving end of this type of behavior and attitude much too often - As a result, I have found the best of friendships in my male friends such as my brother, fiance and just recently, some of my mentors and coaches who have unconditionally supported me through a hard time in my life. They've taught me a lot about the nature of men - and how their protective natures are not domineering, but a wonderful compliment to their characters - but that's a blog for another day!
I am truly grateful for these supportive men - as they've challenged my perception of not only the male species, but "male friendships" in so many ways - it's quite a "personal" yet revolutionary realization - in so many ways. Yet, I continue to yearn to have a group of supportive, loving and genuinely compassionate women around me. I've learned that more then mental and emotional commonalities and stimulation- it's important to be around compassionate friends who are honest for your greater good. Who are present in your life and healthy and genuinely want the best for you - as you do for them. This trait is key to adopt in any relationship - a must ingredient.
I have yet to find the genuine friendship(s) with my fellow sisters that I deeply crave. I'm grateful for some of my closest friendships but I'm always hoping to meet those "True Blue Best Friends." That is the essence of it all; the honor and unconditional love that confirms our true spiritual identities as two loyal and honorable women - in the end of the day - every woman wants her own special best friend.
So be honest with those that share your spirit even if it's harsh. Tough love, is still love. To express with sincerity and not awkwardness or judgment, to make the other aware of their mistakes in an honest, yet caring manner is important and necessary. More importantly, to not take your friends or sisters life choices personal is also important - having a healthy emotional distance is also important and part of this involves respecting her choices in life. Not micromanaging her decisions - but offering honest, mature and sincere guidance. No one thrives under harsh conditions. Imagine living under a hurricane.
If we have too much pride, we surely won't make a difference or accept guidance when we need it most from our kindred spirits. Fear and pride "blocks" out possible truths, or weaknesses which we ALL have and are afraid to maybe face. Truths that a sister or friend should genuinely express to each other - and help lead one another towards the light, as apposed to darkness.
In my opinion, this is what genuine sisterhood and bonding is all about. It's not about labels, girls night out or platonic love adventurs necessarily, but a deep spiritual love that is present and consistent on a daily basis. It's what we don't say that matters most. Can you be a good friend and not impose your own insecurites or difficulties or bitterness onto your friends or sisters or female bonds? Can you respect, appreciate and value the person in front of you?
Here are some points to ponder about.
1) How can you communicate more openly?
SIMPLE. If you want her (your fellow friend or sister) to know something, simply tell her. But tell her bravely, boldly and openly and be willing to hear her side...there is only so much guessing and assuming one can do. So speak up - you share the same spirit...as with all risk comes honor, and positive change. I don't believe the relationships between women should cycle back into or lead towards negativity or destruction. - but only more good, through compassion, time and understanding. It takes hard work and trust to make any relationship work, but if you truly care for your spiritual mirror, if you truly value your bond, then no force in the world should break that special bond - not time, not misunderstandings and specially not resentment or a power house ego.
So why should you be afraid of honesty?
Is honesty and forthrightness not a form of freeing one's own soul from resentment, imprisonment, worry or confusion? Is this not serving the other with an opportunity to understand you better, to love you better, therefore, being the bigger person and abandoning any feelings of selfishness, any actions that are driven from selfish needs..? Unfortunately, not everyone will understand or value this realization.
2) How can you change your generation?
Perhaps this is something that we were not accustomed to seeing, while growing up at home, perhaps culture separated the will to think outside the box from duty, perhaps our own mothers or aunts and the woman in the house did not project a healthy example by treating each other with disrespect, but whatever may be the case, every woman is a leader and Queen of herself and holds a responsibility to her own “kind” to be empowering, brave, encouraging, inspiring, loving, genuine in all her words and actions, to be compassionate and lead by example. Not braver and stronger THEN the other, but FOR the other. This is what TEAM spirit is all about - and no, this is by no means a feminist claim - but a spiritual call for help, a spiritual truth and question from one woman to another. Much too often women "pretend" to be happy for each other - when that is not the case. We come up with terms like "frenemy" and label it socially acceptable to call each other that, rather then dealing with the crises. Yes, it's a spiritual crises we have going on.
If you can't say it, write it, if you can't write it, yell it! But EXPRESS IT, for she (your spiritual sister/friend) will understand you someday, if not today. Unfortunately, some of us give up too often, too soon and too fast. But finding a genuine and loving friend or having an amazing and supportive sister or female companion is a blessings in life- one that requires attention and deserves love, patience, support and maintenance . Such bonds come once in a life time - be mature enough to know how to treat it right - to create the time for such relationships despite a "full" schedule.
4) Be Yourself
How can we feel safe and open without feeling vulnerable? Perhaps by recognizing and acknowledging our feelings, accepting how we feel, rather then hiding from the other or expressing this with doubt, and not with confidence or faith. Yeah, this takes will power. But if you accept yourself, live with no fear, are you not succeeding personally, are you not breathing more purely?
And often we avoid sharing our feelings, our hearts, dreams, visions and worries or joys, for fear of judgment, for fear of being misunderstood, for fear of being wrong...being the worst sister, or the last friend to make it right- but if all the world and universe is held in the eye of the beholder, who is really wrong? And why compare? And why be insecure?
What does it really mean to be wrong? And why should we hide our beauty, our freedom of expression from other like minded women? From our sisters or near and dear friends? Or even from the stranger sitting across from you? Is there something truly wrong if we complimented, encouraged and shared some positive light with each other boldly? As women, are we not constantly in search for growth? For challenge? So why not apply this towards each other? ....Just asking.
Are we so "I have boundaries and limits" driven that we'd rather choose loneliness and solitude over risk and mutual growth?
Perhaps the purest form of love, is to share one another without greed, without reserve, to forgive, to risk with one's mind and soul, to reach out and dare to make another woman's life different, a little more positive...look up the term Anam Cara. Do you have one?
Does it take a phone call? an e-mail? Acknowledgment? Communication? Reconciliation? Responsibility? The courage to be emotional and expressive, without feeling lost or weak or insecure in the midst of vulnerability?
5) Acknowledge the Value
The relationship between sisters and friends is truly divine, while one is given to us, the other we willingly choose. As we grow older, we choose our friends more wisely and more selectively. It's no longer about “lets play tag” but something a lot different. We face challenges, we want to inspire, encourage, give positive ideas, be brutally honest (if one has to) drop resentment, and grudges in order to see the other grow. This is at least, our intentions.
Often we take each other for granted too, often we assume they will continue to be there, continue to pick up the phone, continue to believe little white lies, and sometimes, we believe all the white lies for them, the things YOU know they cannot express yet, but hope that courage, faith, love, compassion and devotion will allow them to let go of all barriers and trust you, trust themselves, and communicate with you someday - whether this be your sister, mother or close friends.
Many of us look back now and even for woman in our 20's, 30,s 40's, and even 50's - I'm certain we still share cookies, borrow pen's, frantically ask for advice, share lipsticks, perfume, books and talk about “men” ..of course, all in the spirit of womanhood.
Do we not bleed the same way? Cry at similar sorrows? Aspire to common goals, long for love and compassion, yearn to succeed and lead by example? Yes, we do.
We woman are very much like mother nature. We are wild, a little insane and crazy, brilliant, hot blooded, a hot mess at times, impulsive, sudden, and mysterious, but through all this we also share a commonality for a pure spirit. We yearn for acceptance, for nurture, for friendship, to be loved, to be taught, to be challenged, to be questioned, to be led and yet to also to be great motivators and spiritual leaders. These qualities are evident and exist with those near and dear to us. Look at the Golden Girls!
However, this sharing of each other should not stop nor come to a halt. Sure, you may not be having the same experiences as you once did in grade school, but the spirit of compassion between you and the other whom you consider “close,” whom you call “best friend” or “sister” still requires growth, and always will; will require challenges, require devotion and intimacy of spirit, mind and soul. Perhaps it requires endurance, a continual love that requires faith to remain strong, that requires consistency, trust and perseverance. Only you would know what's needed.
Of course, when we're young, we argue, feel resentment or jealous about who gets the better pair of clothes, or more attention from mom or dad, or gets in less trouble. With friends, you perhaps argue about guys, ideas, misunderstandings or spilled secrets, but these memories and moments that stick with us, shape our very character today, our very essence of how we decide to treat those around us (our fellow sisters) in the future.
The meaning of friendship and sisterhood changes, transforms and evolves everyday. We no longer cry over who gets more or less, but we start to appreciate and look at such deep bonds from a different light; in the spirit of love, maturity, appreciation and most of all, selfless compassion. At the same time, we can still appreciate the little things, and the person who continues to stick a band-aid on our knees, hands, wipe our tears, stand up for us, take blames for us, talk to us about men problems at 4 am, (or women) sooth our pains and so on. Deep down we're emotional creatures that want nothing more then a cup of tea, a chocolate brownie and the company of a good friend on a Saturday afternoon!
So I ask something of you: Next time, stop for a moment and think about how you have truly treated someone special - sister or friend or even mom or aunts and so on - in your life. What can you do to grow collectively, permanently, and more devotedly. How can you become better to them, by bettering yourself? How can you be more honest? How can you strengthen your bond? Maybe you need space? Maybe things have come to an end? Or perhaps, you are allowing nature to play her course. In any case - nothing is impossible and losing faith is not an option.
It's always possible to overcome hurdles. Anything IS possible, to ask for help, to ask for forgiveness, to share fears, goals, dreams, to talk bravely, to challenge, change, enlighten and to help build strong pillars of wisdom, courage and possibility...perhaps as an example for the woman of our generation, next generation or past generations to "observe" and learn from.
When we become better towards each other, we become good and healthy within. When we forgive and let go, we release darkness from within. When we hurt others, (our sisters) we hurt ourselves. But It's never too late to love or to surround yourself with confident, loving, inspiring and empowering souls.
I'll leave you with a thoughtful quote. ... enjoy!
"You don't have to be perfect to belong in this place. You don't have to have all the answers, or always know the right thing to say. You can climb the highest mountain, if you want. Or quietly imagine that you might, someday. You can take chances, or take safety nets, make miracles or make mistakes. You don't have to be composed at all hours to be strong here. You don't have to be bold or certain to be brave. You don't have to have all the answers here, or even know who you want to be...just take my hand, and rest your heart and stay awhile with me."
Ladies, what can you do to be a better friend to the women round you? I would love to hear your feelings on this topic! Men, your thoughts are definitely welcomed too.