Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Opening Our Reality

I recently enjoyed an overdue night of dinner with a dear and new-found friend.
I was looking forward to this time because I wanted to get to know who she was and how she had come to this place in her life....I know, deep, right? I guess the reason why I was looking forward to it so much was because in our past conversations, I had noticed that we seemed to have more to talk about than simple day-to-day stuff. She had shown to be a deep and interesting thinker and much more down-to-earth than I had expected. But because of time constraints and such, we had not had a good one-on-one time until now.

As our conversation moved quickly from surface talk (interpret: job, places we've lived) to deeper topics (interpret: relationships, major crises), there was not a time amongst the tears or laughter that either one of us found unsettling or uncomfortable. We talked to each other with such ease as if we had known each other for years........words and feelings spilling out from us with the anticipation of an exciting reaction from the other......

This was incredible to me!
Because I found that this was what I have been missing time.....listening "fixes"...........a true happiness to be sharing life stories full of mistakes and successes.......the ability to be in awe of another woman simply because of the vast accomplishments that she has made despite such overwhelming odds.....AND NOT TO BE IN COMPETITION! To want to listen and enjoy the moment of getting to know another woman and her life and her thoughts and her feelings.......and her reality!

Why is this such an incredible happening?
Because as a woman in my 30's, I have had an extremely hard time with females in my life, as relationships long-lasting and meaningful. And as my friend and I discussed, we both agreed that relationships with other female friends has been the thorn in our side throughout our lives. To have another woman that you can call in the middle of the night crying over absolutely nothing, but she would never tell you that!.........another woman to meet up with over coffee where the discussion will not be one-sided........another woman to give advice when asked but not rub it in when you don't take that advice yet picks you up in love and laughter despite your mistakes........

So where are these women that we so utterly crave?

Well, I can count.....ON ONE HAND! many of these close relationships I have had with female friends.
Don't get me wrong, It wasn't like I haven't consistently tried to have more.

But I have to pick myself off the floor every time I allow myself to go down memory lane regarding the hardship of past relationships with other women.

It seems, for the most part, I find another woman that I feel would maybe make a good friend, or someone at least that will not view me as either competition or a blonde bimbo with nothing interesting to talk about, have 2 or 3 interactions with her, only to find out she either has a group of friends that she is involved with (not looking to share) or so deeply involved with family and relationship obligations that she is not even considering some woman time.

Women have issues, ok? I said it!! Insecurities being a major one! We get defensive easily, size each other up, back-stab, build walls faster than texting an insult, and leave our relationships out to dry never to be heard from again.
I include myself 100% in this observation!

And as my friend and I were talking, we both agreed that to finally find another woman that you can relate to, discuss good and bad things about yourself, listen without self-doubt, and know that their words are meant to honestly uplift you as a person, is truly a remarkable gift.

We, as women, have to make the choice to be bold in our preservation of female friendships. We have to make a clear and conscious decision to be the friend we want to desperately have. To Open Our Reality to each other in hopes that what comes back is the true female friendships we so desperately need.

But it takes walking through the fear of being open and honest with other women in a way that finally sheds our outside appearances and enables us to be seen, flaws and all. If this becomes our new reality, what an impact we can have on the next generation of female friendships!


Paige said...

I can relate very well with this Candace. Thanks for putting it into words. May you be blessed, heard, validated and enjoyed in your journey.

Anonymous said...

Claudia writes: Well put! You write so well! Female friendships are critical to our health and survival! Here's what I found:

The Tending Instinct, by Shelley E. Taylor, unlocks some of the mysteries of "women, men, and the biology of our relationships." The big 'ah-ha!' I discovered in its pages is that this need for community with other women is biological; it is part of our DNA. Taylor's book consolidated a variety of studies covering cultural factors, decades of research, anecdotal references – even the biological ties to the girlfriend concept in the animal kingdom. An unending stream of fascinating facts helped define why we as women are more social, more community focused, collaborative, less competitive and, above all, why we need our girlfriends.

Consider these findings:

Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don't. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don't have the same, classic 'fight or flight' response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to 'tend and befriend.' We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
More Stress - A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we're with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the "feel good" hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
Even more stress - Prairie voles, a monogamous rodent, have a similar response to stress. When a male vole is put in a stressful situation, he runs to his female partner. Female voles, when stressed, immediately run to the females they were raised with.
Self-esteem - A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It's no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.
The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker - it's that serious.


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