Over the last few years, I've limited my circle. I used to be that girl. You know the one who watched everyone's kids. The girl who was everyone's shoulder to cry on. The girl you could call at one in the morning to talk about all your hurt feelings. That was me. Then something happened.
When it was my turn, no one was there. I woke up and realized that all of those "friends" were just acquaintances. They liked me because they knew I would get it done, I would show up, I would follow through. I thought they would too — silly me.
The day I realized that I had a lot of acquaintances and not a lot of "friends" was brutal. My husband had been in the hospital, my kids were going crazy, and I had scheduled for a biopsy on one of my breasts, we also got a call to take in a teenage girl. The pressure was intense. Emotions were off the page, and I had NO ONE to call. The few I tried to talk to said all the right things "we are praying for you," "just have faith," "come to church," "lean on Jesus." They weren't mean things. I'm sure that whoever said those things had good intentions, but I needed more than intentions. I needed arms to hold me. I needed sisters that would walk through and process it with me. But when I tried to find the light in the darkness, I just couldn't. I was depressed. Angry. But most of all, I was lonely.
I realized at that moment that the reason I was lonely is that I liked being everyone's rock. I loved being the strong one. It was easy. I didn't have to risk anything that way, but when I needed it, man, I wish I had put some skin in the game. You see, I'm estranged from most of my family for personal reasons. I am in a real sense of the word and orphan. I've raised my parents longer than they have raised me. Those of my generation will understand that statement, and if you don't well, that's a blessing.
So I decided then and there that I was going to find some authentic relationships to invest in. There had to be other women out there like me who just wanted a real conversation. Women that weren't afraid to bare their soul, to be authentic, to be transparent, to be real. Women that weren't afraid of mistakes, but were afraid to miss out on life's beautiful moments. I was looking for women who would be my friend on the good days, on the bad days, and on my asshole days.
It's a real friend that will let you mess up and then fess up and then go on loving you as if nothing happened. I can't say I'm perfect at this thing. I've found myself in a pickle a time or two with my big fat mouth. But I would have never known such mercy, kindness, and love without this big fat mouth.
I am thankful every day for these ladies. Each one brings me a new perspective, joy, and balance every day. I don't remember that lonely gal I mentioned above because she doesn't exist anymore. She put some skin in the game, and it transformed her into someone new.
I know we all say we want friends. I guess what I'm trying to say is that friendship is an investment. You have to invest in transparency, authenticity, being trustworthy, and time. All of these things that I believe are the most difficult for women today because all of us have had so much rejection in our lives. Everything and everyone around us screams that we are not enough that there is something wrong with us, and we bought it.
I love the movie In and Out because it highlights the fact that you cannot have joy without sadness. I have come to be grateful for rejection because it keeps me from walking through doors I shouldn't. I want to be loved, valued, and accepted. All things that rejection can never do for me. So what do I do? Keep loving and keep moving.
I try to remember that every woman I meet has a story much like mine. Every woman is looking for someone to love her, value her, and accept her for who she is. I try to give more and take less, but I have learned to do it within the boundaries of my heart. I don't allow people to take anymore. I require the same investment, and if they can't afford me, then that's okay too.