Preface: I want to emphasize that this is my experience, if some of those experiences are foreign to you, wonderful, but they have been real to me. I would love to hear your stories, but keep in mind this is mine and it is in no way universal.
As I mentioned as a side note in my last post I recently celebrated a birthday. It was awesome. I invited over 10 very dear friends of mine and all of them ended up coming. I knew other people would have loved to be there too, but I had known they already had plans or in the case of my bestie were just a little too far away.
It made me reflect on a previous birthday. I think it was my 9th. I invited a good amount of people and we were supposed to go to the movies and for one reason or another no one showed up so it was just my two brothers and my parents. I don’t remember the movie, the cake, the festivities, or anything. What I do remember is walking into the theater feeling broken up and wondering why nobody liked me. I remember thinking that, no way could everyone have had plans that day (I know better than that now), but I look at my life now and I am so grateful.
I don’t think I would have been as discouraged now if no one had showed up to my birthday party, but at that age I didn’t know who my friends were. There were always people in my life I liked, but it’s been a long journey to feel that the people I want in my life are also the people who want to be in my life.
For me growing up, I always knew that family was there for you. Friends may drift in and out of your life, but family was forever. So in many ways what I’ve always searched for is friends who felt like family. I found that in my high school Girl Scout troop, in college, working at Girl Scout camp, being in the Women’s Bible Show, and living in my Christian community home.
What stands out to me is my relationships with women. My relationships with men are few and far between although I’ve often described the majority of relationships with men as familial (except of course, S, my husband, who I fell for partially because I had intense clearly romantic feelings for him from the get go). With women though, women give me life in a way my male friendships could never touch.
I thank my Christian and homeschooling upbringing for avoiding much of the competitiveness, cattiness, and incompatibility many women expect from their female friendships. I always saw and see other women as my allies whether they were my intimate friends, mentors, or just women I had crossed paths with. The other day one of my best friends told me, “I don’t really get along with women, except for you of course.” For me though, I understand women, I understand our complexity, our beauty, our weirdness. I don’t really understand men, though it’s quite a joy being married to one.
I think especially of the show I was a part of, from it’s conception to its birth and successive performances. It’s hard to go through an experience like that and not understand the unique spirit of sisterhood. The power that comes when women work together. When we share our stories. And while there are very understanding men out there (my husband being one of them), they don’t fully grasp what it means to have periods, the whip lash from puberty, the shame of street harassment, feeling that you must constantly justify your right to this space, the fear for your life.
There is also something unique about being in a women only space that has nothing to do with a uterus or body parts at all. There is a unique energy and power to us. Our love and our strength carry us and the people we choose to care about in our lives. You’ve felt it as a woman when a group of you have shared your lives together. When you’ve banded together to support one of you.
While I am thankful for the men in my life, it is the women who I want to acknowledge today. Thank you for giving me space to always be myself. Thank you for the laughs and tears. Thank you for the beautiful communities that I have been a part of. Thank you for the work we have done in harmony. Thank you for listening to my stories. Thank you for the makeup, clothing, and selfie advice. Thank you for reminding me that being a woman is part of God’s plan not a detriment to it. Thank you, women who have loved me, held me, and cheered me on, I do the same for you.