Female Friendships Pt.2

divine friendships female friendships kinships love toxic toxic relationships Mar 19, 2021

Last week we touched on female friendships and some of the hardships that can come with those relationships. I covered how lifestyle change and our own personal journeys can affect our relationships with our friends, and how our different paths can make it difficult to maintain a friendship if there isn’t clear communication and trust. I talked about how fear and our personal insecurities can play a large factor in the longevity of our relationships as well, allowing them to create anxiety and distance amongst the people we love. I gave personal examples from my childhood and late teens that really played a factor in how I look at my relationships now, and how I look at making new friendships.


The conclusion of it all: it’s not easy.


Not easy to make new friends, and not easy to maintain the friendships you do have when life gets in the way and not easy to bear when things go badly. I made the analogy that our close female relationships are just like a romantic one, but can be even more heartbreaking when things go wrong. They take just as much time, dedication, trust and communication. This week, I want to talk further about the complexities of the relationships we create with our girlfriends, and how to maintain these relationships, or in some scenarios, let them go. As usual, I will be sharing my personal point of view and opinions, and know that everyone and every relationship is different. What matters is that you make decisions for yourself that help you flourish long term, and surround yourself with people that help strengthen and build you. My intention is only to shed light on the problems I know most of us can relate to.

I want to begin this discussion with a topic most of us know well: toxic behavior. Whether it’s from the romantic relationships we entertain, or platonic friendships, all of us have experienced some sort of toxicity in our lives, whether we realize it or not. So, what is the definition of toxic behavior?


It is roughly defined as anything that poisons the relationship or stops someone from continuing to grow.


I think that all of us have minute “toxic" traits that we may or may not recognize, that’s a part of being human, but when it starts to affect those around you negatively, that’s when it becomes a problem that needs to be amended. I have endured many toxic relationships, mostly romantically, but I think it’s the friendships and relationships with women that hurt the most because I think it’s hard to define or notice right away. You don’t usually notice until you start feeling anxious or start changing your behavior drastically when you’re around them. An example of this is giving your all with receiving nothing in return. I have entertained friendships in the past where I would find myself giving and giving and never receiving anything back from them, both emotionally and physically. I would find myself exhausted after hanging out with them, even if we were just sitting having a conversation because the context of our chats always circulated around them and what I could do to help mend their situation. And it carried over into my relationship as well. We found ourselves always doing what they needed and taking time out of our schedules to help them, but when we needed a helping hand, they were never there, and even if it was just conversational consoling that we needed, the conversation always got spun back to them. Now I want to clarify something, and it’s something we all do: bringing up our own experiences with the intent of making the other person feel validated and less alone.


I do this FREQUENTLY.


I have to watch myself to make sure that I’m not making it about me in the end. If your friend and confidant is reaching out to you for assurance and support and you bring up a scenario from your past experiences to validate their own experience, make sure to bring things back around to how they are feeling and what you can do to support them. It’s all about communication and making sure they feel supported and loved when they leave the conversation. Again, another human trait that we all go through. But like I said, it’s when you’re giving your all in a friendship and the support for yourself is neglected that the relationship becomes toxic. So how do you communicate this to your friend, or leave the friendship? Honestly it’s a hard call. Every person and relationship is different, as well as the way you communicate together. What it comes down to is your own mental health and your needs as an equally important individual in the relationship. Communicate your needs clearly, kindly, and assure them that you love them and want to continue the relationship, but create firm boundaries for yourself as well. Whenever we get into a situation where someone is bringing up a fault in us, or something that we are doing personally to bother them, it’s easy to immediately go into defense mode and take things personally. Assure them that it is not your intention to hurt them, but that you are feeling left out of the equation, and that equality in any relationship is important to you. There was an episode of Madea back in the day that discussed different types of friendships and how some people in your life are like leaves, some are like branches and some are like roots. Friends that are like leaves are unstable, capable of blowing away with the slightest breeze or disruption. Friends that are like branches are sturdier, but certain disruptions can also cause the branch to break and disconnect from the rest of the tree. Friends that are like roots ground you, support you, take in the nutrients of life and help you grow and sustain growth. If you get in a situation where you have to have a conversation like this with a friend and they refuse to change, they have become a leaf or branch on your tree of life.


As Madea would say, “Let them go.”


It is not your job to change someone, and it’s not their job to change you. Any relationship is about growing together, side by side, nourishing one another to strengthen each other. Letting anything go that has been a constant in your life is so difficult, it’s taken me years to understand this and I’m still not proficient at it. But for your sanity and for the lifespan of your tree of life, it is important to know when to let go. Every tree goes through a process of regrowth, as an Oregonian I have the pleasure of watching this every year. And each year, the tree grows and produces more foliage and becomes a stronger, more sustainable being. So let it go babe, and watch as you flourish.

The next thing I wanted to talk about this week is the blessing of kindred spirits. I hope that everyone has had the opportunity to experience this magical fate of the universe at least once in their life. Finding someone that matches and reflects you is truly divine. I have been lucky enough to experience this a couple times in my life, and while a few of those friendships have faded over the years, it doesn’t make them any less miraculous or special. 


I remember the first time I saw her; black dress, black hat, combat boots and red lipstick. She was sitting at one of the local cafés outside, enjoying an iced coffee and a cigarette. Something about her made me want to talk to her and introduce myself right away. We quickly hit it off, and even went to a barbecue together that evening. We could talk easily, found true kinship and found out we even lived a block away from each other. It’s like the universe knew we were meant to be friends. We ended up doing so much together in such a short period of time, I felt like I had known her my whole life.


Unfortunately like a lot of my friendships during that time, we drifted apart because of my life choices. But we catch up every now and then, and I still marvel at the memory of finding her, and how the universe pushed us together back then. There are lots of theories about how certain people find each other. The term soul mates is brought up a lot, suggesting that ones soul travels from body to body trying to find their other half. Kindred spirits is defined as two people who bond or find similarity in each other from a shared experience. Regardless of the root of the word or the definition, in a lot of ways it can seem deeper and more magical than that I think. In the example I gave above, it was simply the way the girl looked and her aesthetic that drew me to her, maybe it was even her aura. But I’ve also had the pleasure of finding kinship or platonic soul mates through other means as well. Some of these friends I’ve had since I was in elementary school. We attended all of the same schools, shared classes, grew up together essentially. We bonded over similar experiences, giving us material to bond and connect over. As we got older, and my friend group downsized, I had my constants. It’s funny because they are both so different. No matter how far away we are from each other, we can always pick back up where we started and act like no time has passed whatsoever. It’s a genuine bond that makes it hard to find new friends because the expectation is so high, something I talked about in part one. It’s hard to define friendships like this because when you think back, it’s hard to remember how they happened. According to one of my girl friends, she saw I was alone on the playground and decided to approach me and ask if I liked horses. They were my favorite animal at the time, so apparently we bonded instantly over our shared love of them. And the rest is history. It’s crazy to me how one simple question, or one insignificant similarity can bond two people for life. Though regardless of the simplicity of one friendship beginning, does not mean others will start that way too. Some kinships take time, sometimes you may not even like the person in the beginning. It all just depends on the circumstance, the people, and what you are willing to do to make things work without sacrificing yourself. We’ve all heard the:


“I totally thought you were a bitch in the beginning, that’s why I didn’t approach you,” line. Or the “you looked kind of scary/intimidating.”


I’m now almost wondering if it is our own insecurities or fear affecting the way that we interact with other women. Like we can feel this immediate fascination or pull to talk to them, but we fear judgement or don’t want to waste the energy it sometimes takes making new friends. And then we just chalk it all up to “you looked scary,” when in fact we were just intimidated of ourselves or what the outcome could be if it didn’t work out. I think that with divine kinships or soul mates, we just need to learn to let go and let the universe perform its magic. Letting fear get in the way of something that could be genuine and good, especially in a time where there are a lot of unknowns, is really just setting us up for missing the moments that can form and shape us. And like I said above, sometimes the kinships that we find may not last forever, but the impact of that magical connection will. 

The connections we make in life shape, teach, and even break us sometimes. But regardless of the lesson, regardless of the pain some relationships can cause, allowing connection and love fill your life is essential. Even when you have to let some of your “leaves” and “branches” go, you learned how you want and deserve to be treated. You learn how to set boundaries and find your inner power. When relationships are good and wholesome and genuine, you learn what true, deep love is. You become this example for your kids and other people of what a true friendship should look like. Experiencing that support and strength from another woman, and allowing their strength to build and nourish you is unparalleled. And it makes it so much easier to give back that strength when you know that you’re not alone. In the age of social media where followers and connections are money, it’s important to take a step back and see who your real friends are. Who is there to support and guide you, or who is there benefiting from your strength and taking it for granted?


All trees need a little trimming from time to time, make those necessary cuts so that your life and relationships blossom fully, and beautifully. 


 

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