Female Friends

I’m on the plane back from four days in Southern California with my best friend from college, L. I haven’t felt this calm and confident and relaxed in I don’t know how long.

We each have different human needs to be met. We need to feel seen and heard, we need to feel desired, supported, encouraged and like someone is proud of us. I have found that these needs can be met in different ways by different things and people.

I’ve been told my whole life not to depend on other people for these things, I was told that I must be self-sufficient. I should be able to keep my confidence, health and happiness up all by myself, and only then could I truly begin to rely on others for some of them. But lately, I’ve been thinking that’s too simplistic. It implies that there is a beginning and an end to each portion of life and development.

I don’t buy it.

The most beautiful things come from opening oneself up to uncertainty and the possibility of being let down. Self-reliance is a part of this. Self-reliance is the knowledge that you can handle whatever comes your way. I have this. I do have confidence in my ability to sort it all out, no matter what.

But that’s largely because I know how to ask for help. The most nourishing and rich moments in my life have come from the truly frightening act of letting people around me know that I’m Not Okay. I choose to believe this is a strength, not a weakness.

There is all sorts of shame mixed up in a struggling marriage. It’s a very hard thing to admit is going on. It takes a tipping point of unhappiness and someone to confide in. L was the first person I admitted much of this stuff to. Once I said some of what I had been feeling out loud to L, I knew that it was real. It was in the world and she received it with such grace and understanding and love. No judgment, no hatred towards Spouse, just a genuine supportive attitude and willingness to listen.

The last few days were extremely healing. We laughed and lounged and talked about everything from men to careers to family of origin. You just can’t underestimate the power of a true female friendship. I am returning to Chicago in a really good place because of it.


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