Recently in Ending friendships Category
It's day 11 of my self-love journey of taking care of me first, and my answer of how to do that today is that I need to write this blog, today for me and for every woman and girl out there in the world who doesn't know or have self love or understand why it truly matters.
Last night I was in a room full of 50 women talking about self love, what self love is, what self love isnt, and why self love really is the answer to getting the relationships and love we want in our lives. And it was great! The women who came up to me after the interview told me of their own journeys to love themselves and what an impact it had on them. They told me of the work they were doing in the world to support other women... coaching women through divorces... supporting women in abusive relationships... filming a documentary on the desire for forever love. Work they could only do after they themselves had learned to love more of themselves. Leaving me even clearer that self love is so NOT selfish... that actually loving ourselves allows us to help, inspire and support other women and girls around the world to find safety, peace, and love.
Now I compare that blissful experience to the one I had this morning at my dining room table in which I was really saddened by these very different responses from women I received in the last two days:
- I had reservations in calling you because of all the self love stuff that is on your website. I think self love is pretty hippy dippy.
- Is Madly in Love with ME Day about masturbation?
- Self love isn't for me.
These answers befuddle me. And they make me sad. What about self love is hippy dippy? Why do we think masturbation when we hear the words self love? And masturbation in this case isn't said in the kind of way that masturbation is good, but in that it is dirty. How can self love not be for you? Would you ever tell your daughter not to love herself? Don't we want our girls to respect and honor themselves so deeply that they take care of themselves... that they only have relationships that respect them... that they love their bodies for exactly what they are... that they love themselves for who they are... AND don't we want that for ourselves, and for every other woman in our lives, and in the world?
I think we do... I think we do want these things for ourselves and our girls. Do you want these things for yourself? for your daughters, nieces, godchildren, and for the world?
Up until recently, self love has been a word reserved for therapy rooms or spiritual circles, not a topic for conversation at the dinner table or among mothers and daughters, or even girlfriends. Most of us don't know what it means, nor do we know how to find it. And if I am honest, if you had told me 8 years ago when I was still neck deep in trying to find my happiness through my career titles, the size of my house, and getting my fiance to love and see me, I would have thought the same kinds of things. Self love would have felt totally irrelevant at best and it would have sounded like a dirty word at the worst.
As I sat at my dining room table today, being with the sadness I felt about the fact that women today still have these responses to self love, as if it is a luxury or nice to have, vs a critical component to true happiness, I remembered, "Oh yes Christine, your life mission, to reclaim the definition of self love for every woman and girl. And today in 2010, that journey has just begun. It's your job to share what you've learned over the last 8 years, and keep learning... going from a woman who thought she loved herself to one who understands that self esteem is not self love... and that without self love, happiness, success, a great relationship, and a career that you love and that loves you back, is not attainable.
If you are not sure whether or not self love is for you... here are 4 reasons why it's critical.
If you have self love...
- You won't have abusive relationships or toxic friendships. Women and girls who love themselves would never stay in a verbally, emotionally or physically abusive relationship. 1 in 3 girls will be in an abusive relationship by the time she is 20, 80% will go back. Women who love themselves know they don't need the love of another to survive, so if they find themselves in these situations, they leave. Women who love themselves don't stay friends with people who drain their energy or that are not supportive. When a woman really loves herself she doesn't attract 'negative' people into her life any longer.
- You won't beat yourself up for everything you're not. Women who love themselves never compare themselves to other women. They don't judge themselves harshly. And they don't focus on what they should have done but didn't do. They are able to accept the person that she is right now and love that person, not for what she gets done it a day, or for what she accomplishes but just because of who she is.
- You'll be able to take care of yourself, as well as everyone else, without exhausting yourself to do it. Women who love themselves believe and trust that if they take care of their bodies, their health and their needs first, that they will be able to do everything that needs to get done in a day to take care of their jobs, families, communities and responsibilities. And they don't feel guilty for doing it. Women who love themselves do not take on the burden of everyone elses life or problems, and they don't try to control everything around them. They are not martyrs or victims to their busy lives. They refuse to be busy. And they refuse to let themselves become exhausted. They are able to create a harmony in their life that make their life run for them, not them run through their lives.
- You'll take care of your body because you realize that it's what allows you to do what you love, not because you need tight buttocks. Women who love themselves understand that their bodies are like temples on loan, structures that need to be adored and taken care of, vs. shifted and shaped for appearances sake. She exercises, eats well and cares about her health not because she needs to lose 10 lbs, have flat abs or keep up with the looks of younger women. She does these things because she loves her body so much she wants to take care of it... the weight loss and the youth are the outcomes, not the drivers. Self Love is the source. It's a big mental shift that women who love themselves understand, and women who drive or abuse themselves and their bodies without compassion don't.
Those are only 4 of many many more reasons why self love isn't a luxury, a dirty word or something that's 'not for you.' If you truly want to help women and girls around the world, love yourself first. If you want to raise daughters who make great choices, love yourself first. If you want to be happy in this lifetime before you die, love yourself. If you want to experience great love, love yourself first. And if you need help doing it, join me and other women who know the power of self love at www.madlyinlovewithme.com
You don't have to do it alone.
Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
Whether it's the girlfriend that calls crying hysterically on the phone because her heart has been broken, or the friend I watch beat herself into pieces because of something she did "wrong" or should have done "better", or even with the soul sister who is dating Mr. Jackass yet again and to whom I want to scream "Wake Up! Stop hurting yourself!" ... I have trained myself to shut my mouth for a certain period of time and just listen.
You see I used to be the Queen of Fixers, armed with great advice and a heart that wanted to help the people I loved fix themselves and their problems. I have since given up this role because frankly it didn't really serve anyone - not my friends and not me. Trying to fix someone else's life became a distraction from dealing with my own. Attempting to carry someone through their pain left me exhausted. And yelling louder just to break through to a friend who couldn't hear the truth just yet, didn't help her move any faster nor help me feel any better.
Somewhere around the age of 30 I realized that it was time to retire as the Queen of Fixers and take on the role of witness, woman who understood, fabulous listener, hugger, and sister who saw her brilliance, possibility and truth even in the darkest of self-love dumpsters. From this place, I first listen, not just with my ears, but also with my heart. I want to feel where this woman I love is at so that I can really BE there for her, so that I can really SEE her, which all we really want anyway. I now understand that I cannot lift my friend out of her self-love dumpster, she has to climb out herself. I can however, be on the outside talking and guiding her out... offering perspectives that bring her closer to the light and out of the darkness of the suffering. I can remind her of who she really is at the core of her soul, instead of the woman she is feeling like right now.
Occasionally, I admit, if I have a girlfriend who has stuck herself deeply into that stinky self-loathing, or self-deception dumpster I will bang on the walls of the dumpster with my Truth stick just to wake her the heck up. Sometimes we need someone to jolt us our of our misery or delusion, and I don't mind being that friend either, if that is what she needs, if that is what serves here. And that really is the heart of all knowing what the best course of action is... asking yourself the question, "What will best serve this woman I love, right now in this moment?" Sometimes that means banging on the walls to wake her up, and sometimes that means letting her be exactly where she is and just listening.
Christin, age 25, says:
I have one friend in particular. My very best-est friend, in fact. With over twelve years of history together all of the times I have coaxed her out of the self-love dumper have merged into all the times she has drug me out (kicking and screaming usually). It is hard to separate which memories are whose. It occurs to me now that I am insanely lucky to have a girl friend like this.
The instance that comes to mind is a middle of the night phone call. I realize that this may not seem like much thought or effort to you, dear reader. But I will tell you this: Sleep is my Number One priority. Above sex. Above cleanliness. Even above eating. (My man-friend claims that my last life was most certainly spent as a cat.) Anyway, what was so special about this phone call is that my friend needed help. She needed love and she needed it right that instant. I put aside my extra-ordinary need for sleep, in order to be with her fully. Present in my adoration and listening - even at one o'clock in the morning. I don't even think I said much. I was simply there for her to cry to. I gently reminded her that she was so beautiful she was blinding. She was the strongest, most powerful and neatest person in the whole wide world. I reminded her she was going to get through this - whatever 'this' was - because she had made it through so many 'this-es' in her life. I told her I was proud of her.
I think these words come naturally when you love some one so very much. They are easy to say when you find someone so beyond the limits of incredible. When any girl friend - or when I my Self - am in the dumper, the easiest way to negotiate out is to remember and remind of all the power, strength, wisdom and beauty possessed naturally. Who we really are. To recall that this 'dumper' stage is temporary because we are not darkness. We are the glory and shimmery shiny glitters of light.Katie, age 34, says:
When I was in high school, I had a best friend, Kelly (fictional name). Though she is a year and nine months younger, she was like the older sister I never had, and I admired her like a younger sister would. She was cool, hilarious, smart, morally righteous, drop dead gorgeous, an insanely creative theatre genius, and more centered than any other teen I knew.
If I'd ever found a stepladder tall enough, one that would've permitted me a peek into her darkness, then perhaps I would have seen all of Kelly then. But from my vantage point, she was a perfectly collected, emotionally balanced, one-dimensional, Zen-like creature.
Now a mature adult, I see all of Kelly's dimensions. Recently, she was in tremendous pain, and she reached out to me. She had been working in her dream job, acting and directing for a theatre company. Her extraordinary talent was on display, so she was setting her world on fire doing the work she loved. Then, she was fired. And not just fired, but fired in a cruel manner, by a man in the company's new management who was threatened by Kelly's light. Kelly only had to tell me a few insults he'd hurled at her, for me to see the truth of what had happened.
Kelly told me her story through tears, grasping to figure out what she, the most radiant example of a woman I know, had done wrong. Why hadn't she been good enough? What had she done to upset this man? How could she have prevented him from ruining her reputation and career the way he did? Each time Kelly brings up another angle on the heartbreak, I listen with love. I can hear that she's lost her center, but also that she's not far from it. As her older-younger sister, my job is to help her find it again.
I don't give Kelly advice, as she's wise and fierce and capable of seeing the truth. I elicit the power within her, by asking what I think are the right questions, until she tells me the "right" answers: "Katie, I was more than good enough. I was great." "I didn't do anything to cause this, and there's nothing I could have done to stop it." I love seeing Kelly gradually come back to herself. And I feel honored to be her partner in that journey.Janet, age 52, says:
Recently a dear friend called to say that her LOVE bubble had popped...not only was her Loving Relationship with her beloved coming to a grinding halt but everything else around her seemed to be following the same downward spiral! Including the relationship with her aging mother (who is suffering from Alzheimer's) pushing her further down into the abyss by berating her...and my friend was taking it All in, believing that everything was her fault! She went to that deep dark hole that we have all climbed into one time or another as a result of not feeling worthy or good enough, that somehow she had not done what she was expected to do, spoke the right words or put in the right amount of time and effort into the situation ~ she was ready to pitch a tent and have a giant pity party!
Well, that was definitely not going to happen on my watch...! I reminded and reflected back to her All the Wonderful Gifts that she possesses...the Gifts that I have been a recipient of on many occasions. Her deep commitment and compassion towards others during their time of need! I continued to share with her how I saw her...a big Shining Light & Generous Spirit who would give the shirt off her back to others...a person who would drive through the pouring rain to let my dogs out because I was delayed getting home! I shared my own inner turmoil and challenge in showing myself the same compassion I am so willing and freely giving to others ~ I know from first hand experience how much easier it is to show and give others Love before giving it to mySelf!! I also shared with her that just this past week I had a total melt-down and that my first thoughts (and reaction) was to climb into my hole...and then as suddenly as those thoughts came they went because darn it I have done way too much work on mySelf...and walked thru too many fires...to go pitch a tent in that dark stinky hole!! And I reminded my friend that she too has come too far and done a lot of hard work to so readily and easily cast it aside and buy into that crap that she is not good enough and hasn't done enough...at the end of our conversation she thanked me, and with that "Thank You" I reminded her that we are All A Reflection of Each Other...and that I was choosing to see Her Inner Beauty in the Mirror of our Friendship.
Olive, Age 13, says:
The whole concept of breaking up with friends at my age is a little unrealistic. Yes I have been broken up with but it was more just hints. They gave them, I read them, I found new friends.
One experience I had is I tried to break up with a friend that just kept letting me down. Eventually she was making me laugh again and I was remembering all of those fun memories we had together and I just decided we could still be friends but we wouldn't be quite as close as we once were.
A problem with telling a girl that you don't want to be their friend any more is that they usually just try to be your friend even more. They change themselves, become clingy, etc. and then you just don't want to be their friend even more. This is what leads to hints. For the most part, hints just don't work because most girls just can't read them. What does work? Growing apart. For girls my age breaking up with a friend usually has to do with change so what ends up happening is you hang out less and less and you simply grow apart.
So I wonder, can you really break up with a friend and can you really stay best friends as you go through change?
Christine, age 37, says:
I have had women in my life who I thought we were soul sisters, the kind that are forever friends, only to realize that even 'soul sisters' break up. During our friendship if you had told me there would be a 'break up' I would have said, "You're crazy. No way!" These are the women who help put me back together when my entire life fell apart at the age of 30... they are the women I helped put back together during their divorces, miscarriages and career disasters... they are the women who I had walk beside me when I got married... and they are women who I consider my family.
I have "lost" at least three of these 'soul sisters' in the past five years. Each time one left my life, it felt (and hurt) like a breakup with a guy. The same questions played over and over in my head... "Why can't we talk about this and make things right?" "Why doesn't she want to be friends anymore?" "Does this mean that we weren't really soul sisters?" Sometimes I got mad and conjured up thoughts like "Screw her! If she can't be real with me, I don't want to be friends with her." But when I was real about my own feelings... when I let myself drift into a memory or look at a photo of us, I was really just plain old S-A-D. I missed them. Honestly, I still miss them. But what's a girl to do? You can only reach out so many times until you realize, "Hey, maybe this relationship has run its course. I have to let go or I am going to make myself miserable."
Here's what I wish. I am not naïve enough to think that all friendships should last forever. But I do think that some of the ones we lose could stay if we were willing to be more honest with each other. I do have soul sisters who I have been friends with for over 10 years, and I know that we will be friends for a very long time. Why? Because we are real with each other. When it gets hard, when a feeling gets hurt or an expectation or need isn't being met, we go deeper with each other. We stay. We don't disappear, avoid phone calls, or send that "it's been nice to know you hallmark like" email. We meet each other as sisters, as friends and as two women who really realize how precious our relationship is. And to be honest, that is what my expectation is for a forever friend. That is my truth. And to be doubly honest, I am still working on the reality that not all 'soul sisters' will be forever friends. That is my heart. Linda, age 60, says:
As it is in all relationships, being a forever-friend requires almost as much commitment as a marriage. I have three girlfriends who have been part of my life for over 40 years. When I think about the element that is different in these relationships compared to others who have come and gone in my life, it always comes back to love.
As simplistic as that may sound, it is the one emotion that is always present when we think about or speak to each other. Each of these friendships was developed when we were in our teens and early twenties. We blossomed as women together, raised children together, leaned on each other for support, cried together through our sad and painful moments, and laughed through our wild and happy times. The foundation was strong.
As we moved into our thirties and the marriages were ending and the children were growing, our lives took us in different directions. Back to work, back to school, back to the country... and the times we were apart were greater than the times we spent together. Months would go by before one of us realized that we hadn't spoken. All it took was a phone call and it was as if no time had passed. We kept each other informed of our changes and stayed current with each other's lives. We couldn't bear the thought of being a "yesterday friend"... not with someone who knew our history and the paths we had traveled. Not with someone we loved so much.
As I was writing this, I looked to the plaque hanging on my wall... "Friends are the family we choose." These women have been my soul sisters and they continue to be even now. Our friendships have lasted all of these years because we give each other room to grow and to change and to walk down whatever path we choose. We delight in each other's achievements and grieve with each other's heartaches. These aren't transient friendships based on selfish needs. These are the friendships that last a lifetime... the very best kind!
I love you K, D & A!!