My experience with women started out as a tumultuous one.
I experienced women to be catty, emotional basket cases. This was true through most of my adult years and was exacerbated in my corporate career. I found myself gravitating toward men who didn’t gossip or play the games women play. It resulted in not having any close female friends for most of my adult life.
The female friends I had were superficial. I thought it was because I have never been the type of friend who will call and text you every day. I can go a year or more without talking, and pick back up right where we left off. My lack of communication isn’t a signal that I don’t care about you or love you. I thought it was because I have no desire to go “shopping with the girls.” I abhor malls and stores of all kinds. I’m an in and out kind of girl and only go when I absolutely have to.
I thought it was because as a “career woman” I didn’t have anything in common with moms who weren’t. I don’t care about what Johnny did today. I don’t want to hear about your financial problems. My answer would be to get a job.
I thought it was because I was too blunt—see prior statement. I speak my mind and tell you what I think you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I’m not going to coax your emotions as you cry on my shoulder because your life is over since Johnny left you. I’m going to tell you to stand the f**k up and get on with your life.
I thought it was because I was too pretty, too successful, too smart or too wealthy and you were threatened by me.
Now I know something I didn’t know then. I was scared of them. I was scared they were going to know that I was an emotional basket case on the inside and a powerhouse on the outside. I was scared they’d see that I put on a pretty face and say anything to make people like me. I was scared they would see that I had never really gotten over my past and they’d force me to face it.
I was scared they would judge me for having an affair. That they’d see I didn’t love myself so I couldn’t love anyone else. I was scared they’d think I was a bad mom for working too much, and that I needed that time away from my kids to keep my sanity while they joyously looked forward to every moment with theirs.
I was scared that they’d see the real me. And so I pushed them away. I didn’t call. I didn’t text. Because inside I hated who I had become and I couldn’t bear the look of sadness I would see in their eyes when they saw who I really was. I couldn’t handle the amount of love they would show me when I just wanted to fall apart. I couldn’t handle the acceptance they would show me when I needed to say the unthinkable to just to get it out.
I couldn’t receive sisterhood because I didn’t feel worthy of it. I couldn’t receive any of that from because I couldn’t give it to myself.
I’m the one whose judged me. I’m the one who couldn’t love me. I’m the one who couldn’t forgive myself. I’m the one who couldn’t look myself in the mirror.
Until I could.
Until I started to see the gifts that mirror held. Until I realized I wasn’t any of those things I thought I was. Until I started to feel gratitude for all I’d become. Until I started to love every part of my past, present and future. It wasn’t until I fell in love with me, that I could love them.
That’s when I found my first sister and opened myself up to being completely transparent, completely vulnerable, and completely authentic. That’s when I saw the beauty sisterhood holds. I felt your love. I felt your warmth. I felt your compassion. I felt gratitude. I felt trust.
I did call. I did text. I was inspired to do things that inspired my sister. We shared in moments of pain, regret, happiness and bliss. We’ve gotten our stories off our chest and replaced them with stories of love and gratitude. We’ve connected in ways I never believed two women could. And then I found another sister. And another. And now I feel surrounded by the love of amazing women.
And it is absolutely beautiful.
When I think of all the years I missed out on sisterhood it saddens me. To know there is so much love to share and I was too scared to partake.
But I’m not scared anymore.
I openly receive and give sisterhood to every woman I meet. And when she isn’t ready to receive it, I smile and look at her with love. Because I see her. You see, I was her. But now, I’m me.
And I love my sisters…just as they are.
Author: Nichole Kelly
Assistant Editor: Jan Farias / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Vegar Samestad Hansen/Flickr