By: Dalene Perry
Women are emotional creatures and we are built to serve others. We tend to justify our very being; through the men we have, the job we hold, the hair we have or wear, the clothes, the alcohol we drink, the family we came from, the family we refuse to be like, and will even sometimes justify ourselves by the friends we keep who we really don’t consider friends at all. In it all, we lose who we are. But where did we become lost to self? Hell I about got lost in the sentence. Once we discover who we are, it opens the door in trusting yourself. When we trust ourselves, we will know who to trust in fully, letting them into that space we call ME and WHO I AM. It takes someone with compassion, who is non-judgmental, who will encourage and at times out right tell us WE ARE WRONG without wavering. That pull up person that agrees to disagree and will hug you even after the heated discussion. In reality we become servants to our need AS a woman to woman, justifying THIS IS WHO I AM AND I LOVE ME. We have each others back in all capacities without question or a second thought.e
We maintain our healthy relationships by both having respect as women first, but knowing when we can diligently be there without interrupting the family circle, if married; respecting the unit if in a relationship; and allowing the respect of directions taken by that woman. We must always speak honestly and truthfully with compassion, dedication, and the commitment of truly having each others best interest.
We must Listen! That’s it. LISTEN. We don’t know each other from the jump as the above relationship is few and far between. But keeping that in mind, if I am encouraged in knowing WHO I AM and maintain a relationship with that of whom I trust, there has to be a humility present in wanting to serve. Those that we just don’t know, we still maintain an eagerness to help those in need, even if they aren’t aware there IS a need. I sat in an AA meeting today, professionally dressed and smiling ear to ear, encouraged when I spoke to say I had not had a drink in all of 11 days. Thing is, some were mistaken when I walked in, almost wondering if I was in the right place. Those who have seen me *daily* within those days, now know I need THEM more than they would ever need me. In keeping it real, I am no different then the one that reported she was clean for 48 hrs. In that respect, I respect her more than the one clean 7.5yrs just because that was me, 11 days ago. It’s that first step that makes the difference of a lifetime. The same respect would be given, in like, of women. We just don’t know their story. We may not ever know or have the opportunity. What’s important in ANY given opportunity is we must serve the need of other women when we can. That is like a smoldering fire just waiting to catch. When we ARE the fire, no one will get burnt.
By: Ellen Riegger
I have never had a large group of friends. I prefer instead to keep my circle small, but trusted and close. I would rather have a handful of good friends that I can count on no matter what than a large number of acquaintances. I believe that friendship first starts as an acquaintance, but grows through honesty, trust, and loyalty.
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.” ~ Aristotle
First let’s look at honesty in a friendship. To me a “good” friend does not always tell you want you want to hear, but will tell you the truth no matter how hurtful. Even though it may hurt you know that this person only has your best interests at heart. I have learned that while what a friend tells me may hurt at the time, in the end they are right. It just took time for me to realize that. Because of this, you shouldn’t throw away a friendship just because you don’t like what the other person tells you.
Trust is hard to earn and even harder to get back once broken. But to have a true and lasting friendship you have to know the other person has your back no matter what. I may not always agree with a friend’s situation, but I will always have their back. You should always trust your friends will be there to support you. They will stand beside you in the face of adversity and later give you a shoulder to cry on. A true friend will never leave you to walk alone, no matter how long that walk may be.
Finally, loyalty. Oscar Wild once said “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friends’ success.” It is not always easy to stand by your friend. Yes, it is always easy to stand by and be a good friend when you have everything going for you and your friend does not. However, it is much harder to stand by and be a good and supporting friend when you are the ones whose life is falling apart and your friend just got a great promotion and raise. By this I mean standing by, supporting, and even celebrating your friend’s accomplishments even when you are going through your lowest.
We as women are taught that to make it in a man’s world we must be intimidating and ruthless. We are taught that we are our own competition instead of allies. We should be helping build each other up instead of tearing each other down. The ability to do this comes only from the confidence within oneself. Knowing who you are and what you are capable of. Asking for help when you need it and being willing to help another when they need it (even if they afraid to ask).
Only when we stop trying to hurt each other can we truly get ahead and be thought of as equals.
By: Tasmin Pepin-Perry
As women I think there is this myth that your “best friends forever” are the ones that you have known since childhood/high school/college. You grew up with them, you speak with them every day, and while each woman is complicated in her own right the friendship, however, is not. It’s a friendship that will last forever. That is the misconception about how all friendships should be. While it is amazing when those types of friendships exist, in reality, it’s not a friendship that happens to most of us. This idea that friendships “last forever” can damage and minimize the more significant short-term friendships a woman has in her life. It’s unrealistic to believe that you and your friends will grow and change complimentary to each other and that you will never be led in different directions in life. Believing that can actually cost you a friendship rather than helping to develop the friendship. I’ve learned that friends come and go over the course of a lifetime and to hold on to this idea of who your friend “was” in the now, instead of “who she is” can do more harm than help.
I firmly believe that to develop and sustain a healthy loving friendship it begins with complete and total honesty. I don’t want you to tell me what I want to hear. That type of “honesty” only lets me repeat the bad patterns and habits that I have. That does absolutely nothing to help me grow as an individual. There’s this fallacy that the only way to have your girls back is if you support her in every decision she makes and you keep your opinions to yourself. To use an analogy it’s like watching your friend walk into the middle of oncoming traffic and not try to stop them. Don’t scream out “stop!” Don’t try and pull them back to the curb. Why would you do that? I can support you in your decision. That does not, however, mean I have to agree with you and it definitely does not mean I should keep my opinion to myself. As a friend I have the duty to protect you and a lot of the time protecting you means being honest about the decisions you are making or have made. Sometimes it means telling you that you are wrong. Don’t get me wrong I can be a “ride or die” chick when it comes to my friends, but I’m a ride or die chick with a contingency plan when needed. You do a detriment to your friendship when you can’t be honest.
I also don’t think you can have a healthy loving friendship without trust and trust is built through honesty. I need to trust in that what you are saying and doing has been upfront and honest. If there is a problem between us I need to trust that we can talk and work it out like civilized adults. I need to believe that you’ll come to me and not to a mutual friend, a parent, or a significant other. It takes a lot to trust as women. I understand that. We’ve been pitted against each other for a while now to believe that all women are conniving and manipulative. In my experience that is not true. Some of the best women in my life are those that would rather say it to my face then behind my back. Even if their words might hurt. I like to say I’m being reprimanded. I may not agree with their assessment of my behavior, but they’re usually right. You have to trust that your friends, the true friends, are “telling you about yourself” to save you from yourself. I respect and appreciate the women in my life who have always been real and straightforward with me. I trust those women implicitly.
I would also say that all healthy friendships are developed through unconditional love. As a friend you don’t always know everything that is going on within your circle of friends. Would we like too, definitely, but that isn’t always the case. Conversations can get heated and blown out of proportion, but if the love is solidly there than it can be worked out. You just can’t give up. I will not always see eye to eye with those I’m friends with. I have accepted that as truth. To be honest, in the best friendships you shouldn’t be 100% compatible. I want someone who pushes me and forces me to see the world differently. I want someone who won’t take my crap. I don’t want a “Yes” woman. But to love a person means you have to love them even when you’re hurt, when you’re angry, when you’re at your lowest, and sometimes when you think it’s irreparable. You have to understand while you may view how or what they’ve said negatively towards you, most of the time if it’s the right friendship, it’s coming from a loving place. I wish no ill will towards any of my friends and love them dearly, BUT I will put someone in their place when I feel as if they’ve gone too far in how they have treated me because I KNOW it’s not coming from a loving place. I love them ENOUGH to make them aware of how their actions can affect myself or others.
When I think about how you sustain a friendship it’s as simple as saying “it takes work”. Friendships do not grow and sustain organically. Maybe they did when you were in high school and college because let’s face it the proximity to each other made it easier. The older I have gotten the more I realize that with living farther apart, having careers, being married, having children, running errands, and trying to find time for yourself, it makes it harder for you to find time for your friendships. You won’t be in constant contact every day. The most important thing is to understand that simple fact. You WILL NOT be in constant contact. Don’t take it as a slight from your friend. Be understanding and keep trying. As long as they are making an effort to communicate and keep in touch than they are showing that the friendship is important. Schedule time for each other even if it’s only once a month. I have a group of friends that I do dinner with. We schedule out a day once a month that we get together and during that dinner we make a point to schedule the next month’s dinner date. Does that mean that we don’t see each other individually outside of that? No. What that means is we made a commitment that no matter how busy we got there would be AT LEAST one day out of the month where we would all get together. Sometimes it’s more practical to schedule your friendship. It boils down to how much time and effort you’re willing to put into maintaining the friendship. It takes a lot of work and it isn’t always easy.
I think once you have established for yourself what the foundation for a healthy loving friendship is you can utilize that knowledge to build other women up. If we approach each woman with love instead of judgement the conversation is completely different. When you meet someone you don’t know, you have no idea about their story. You don’t know the journey they have taken to become who they are or the friendships they’ve had that have possibly even broken them down to who they are. Instead of looking at each other as enemies we need to see each other as allies. Yes, she may not behave how I would, talk how I do, dress in the same manner, live the same life, but that doesn’t make her more or less important than myself. I believe we are intelligent enough as women to have honest conversations about our different viewpoints without mistreating each other. We need to learn how to love the differences in each other instead of belittling each other for those differences. You build trust within a community of women when you sit and listen to each woman’s story without berating them. At the end of the day we have one very fundamental and important characteristic in common. We are women. That is a bond we share with no one else. We should be cherishing that bond and not destroying it.