Featured on Elephant Journal
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” ~ William Shakespeare
It’s been a fantastic few days, and my heart is overflowing in many ways.
I hold memories from this vacation that will always be dear to my heart. However, as I sit here on the airplane, all of the struggles and daily life nuances that I was able to forget come rushing back as we lose contact with the beautiful energy of Punta Cana.
I look over at my friend, and our simple, hysterically funny conversation quickly becomes serious. I look into her eyes, which are holding an openness I can’t express, and my heart spills out all over the plane. My tongue has been set free, and I am talking a mile a minute as she simply holds space for my insecurities, my fears, and the pain that has been buried deep down in my heart.
Tears are flooding my face as people are snoring in the seat in front of me, and I am having a full-blown friend-therapy session 30,000 feet in the air. She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear in this moment. No, she gives me an honest, heartfelt, and supportive response. She tells me that she is behind me and supports my continued growth, but also confronts my ego and distorted belief systems. As I look into my friend’s cornflower blue eyes and experience the supportive energy flowing out of her being, I feel unexplainable gratitude.
The gratitude of having fierce female friendships.
As a general rule, I don’t tend to have a large number of friends. I am the type of person who has a handful of people in my life who are really important to me rather than someone who has a hundred acquaintances.
Each of my friends holds a special role in my life, and they are important to me for a specific reason. I love my male friends because they tend to be funny, playful, logical, and sometimes even a little sexy. They provide me with the much-needed growth and perspective that only the masculine energy can provide.
However, there is something exquisitely unique about my fierce female friendships. These friendships help me grow my feminine side in ways I would never expect.
Some friendships are casual, where we only occasionally see the person, but overall they don’t make a huge impact on our lives or hearts. These are the types of friends who we only think about when we come across a post on social media.
Fierce female friendships are different.
These are the friendships where we think about how the other person is doing, and when we finally see each other, it feels like no time has passed. These are the deep female friendships where we are so vulnerable it scares us. In these friendships, we allow the other person in so deeply that we know we are giving them the power to rip our hearts to shreds, but at the end of the day, we trust them enough to take this scary leap. When we look at this type of friend, we see her as a goddess, possessing inner beauty and potential, and wish she could see it herself.
Why female friendships?
The truth is, female friendships are vital relationships in a woman’s life.
If we don’t have other supportive women in our lives, then we lose touch with an important part of our femininity. Women are built to connect and are made to be in a community. If we look at history, women have always gathered in unique ways to support each other and grow together. From the beginning of time, women have gathered to learn together, menstruate together, stand together, and nurture each other.
When the men in our lives consistently try to serve the purpose of being our “girlfriend,” one of two things will happen: we end up depleting the man’s masculine energy and thus testosterone, which gives us an unbalanced husband, boyfriend or friend, or we feel unfulfilled because he isn’t able to provide us with the feminine energy we actually need at our core.
Without other women, we can find ourselves too much in our masculine energy, which creates a variety of health issues for women.
Deep female friendships provide a multitude of health benefits.
Women who have close female friends have lower levels of stress and anxiety and are better able to cope with stress in more efficiently. Studies have shown that women who are in close friendships live longer and are more likely to recover from life-threatening illnesses. A study done on women with breast cancer showed females with deep female friendships were 66 percent more likely to recover. In this same study, having a spouse made no difference, but having strong female friendships did!
Let’s face it, there are certain things that only other women will ever truly understand.
My male lovers and friends won’t ever understand the emotional turmoil that PMS can wreak internally; they will never relate to being told they can’t do something because they are the “fairer sex”; they don’t usually feel a constant need to have their car keys out and ready when walking through a dark parking lot to avoid being attacked; and they can never truly know the feminine power that women feel and embrace.
As females, our brains and emotional processing work differently than our male counterparts.
I can talk to a male friend about something happening in my life, and he will most likely approach it in a more logical, linear, “fix it” manner, even if he’s being supportive and caring at the same time. However, if I relate this same problem to a female friend, they are usually able to understand all the complexities my brain is creating and recognize the places my ego is dragging me. This is done simply without having to spell it all out, because female brains are wired the same way as each others.
Feminine wisdom can only be cultivated through connection with other women. Our society does not often appreciate or nurture the feminine, so when we are in female friendships, we heal these societal wounds. In female friendships, we are handed a mirror and encouraged to lean into our feminine power. The more we learn to appreciate the feminine in others, the more we are able to appreciate it in ourselves. Female friendships help to heal the mother, sister, and other female wounds that we have acquired during our lives. They can be transformational relationships.
But women are bitches!
Sadly, many women avoid female friendships.
From a young age, we hear:
“Women are too much drama.”
“I’m a guy-friend type of woman.”
“Women are too catty to have as friends.”
“Other women will just stab us in the back.”
These stereotypes are promoted by television, movies, and books that represent women as backstabbing, catty bitches.
Women are often pitted against each other from a young age. We compete when it comes to looks, intelligence, poise, and sex appeal, which creates intense feminine wounding.
Sadly, there are women who have not learned to support other women because of their own wounding. There are the women who feel compelled to degrade and diminish other women.
Women as a whole tend to be more emotional, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but female friendships will make us take a deeper look at ourselves. My two dearest female friends, who are drastically different types of women, have the greatest ability to drag up my feelings of envy, insecurity, and comparison. Unsurprisingly, though, they also have the greatest power in my life to help sort out these ego-ridden areas. They safely hold up a mirror for me to take a deeper look at myself.
My friends remind me that even when I feel like a mess, I am still worthy. They tell me that I matter, and they push me to be a better person through love and support, even when this support feels like tough love. They see things in me that I can’t see in myself and light the flicker of hope in dark times.
Friendships are relationships.
We often forget that friendships are relationships and need many of the same things that intimate relationships require. If we want honest, wholehearted friendships, then we will have to work at them. Friendships require taking time out of our schedule to build and nurture these relationships by committing to honest and open communication, supporting, caring and having compassion for each other. We have to be vulnerable and renegotiate the relationship as each person grows. Whenever we are vulnerable with someone in any type of relationship, we run this risk of being hurt. Welcome to love!
Signs of a Genuine Friend:
They push us to grow and be more accepting of ourselves.
They are brave enough to tell us when we are wrong or they see one of our personal blindspots.
They are fully present with us physically and emotionally.
They listen fully.
They are supportive during adversity and don’t give up when things get tough.
They value our friendship.
They practice forgiveness.
They are on their own journey of personal growth.
Things don’t need to be “fair” or “equal,” but there is reciprocity overall in the relationship.
They are willing to step into vulnerability with us and themselves.
Reach out today to get relationship help at www.addisonbell.net