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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When Female Friendship is Hard

"I want you to know that no matter where life takes you, through the ups and downs, I'll always be rooting for you."

I pressed my finger across "send" on my phone and watched the message-bubble rise. No take-backs. No canceling. No circling back. The text was signed. Sealed. Delivered. Read.


Our relationship has gone this way for the last year or so. Unanswered texts. Letters. A particularly awkward in-person meet-and-grit.

In the interest of fairness, it's not completely unadulterated. It was around this time last year that I caused her pain. Or maybe disappointment.

Throughout the many years of our friendship, the latter-half of our relationship has been sticky, for several reasons. Mainly that it began to bow and bevel under the weight of our changing circumstances and life stages. These swirling circumstances led me to believe that our relationship worked because I did. To seek her approval. To not ruffle her feathers.

After all, we're treated the way that we allow people to, aren't we?

In my recovery as a chronic perpetual people-pleaser (alliteration! humor! deflect!) I had to come to an important: would I let this individual continue to have power over me? Would I continue to allow her thoughts and attitudes reign?

The answer, for the first time in more than a decade was no.

It wasn't a big deal, at least in my mind. We no longer lived in the same city. Maybe sent each other a few messages here and there. Made halfway, half-hearted plans to connect when we weren't working. When our laundry was done. When there was nothing good to binge-watch. When our significant others weren't available.

I realized that the element that made our friendship work over the years was not my Christ-like love for her. I was on a mission of self-fulfillment. And it worked. My way of buying into her friendship was padding her approval, her loyalty, playing her side. Even when I disagreed. Even when it left me frustrated. And when that was eliminated, our friendship uncoiled.

For months my stomach knit an anxiety scarf -- a far less fashionable version of the infinity scarf -- were these snubbed olive branches my fault? Should I make harder amends? Attempt to reconcile, despite the advice of those around me? Despite her unwillingness to even be in the same room as me? Fall into the same submission born out of the hope to be well-liked and popular over a representative of Christ and His love for me?

Or should I check out?

Dust off my hands. 

Buckle down in my boundaries.

Be content with my inability to retrieve her.

Be at peace with the release.
Chock it all up to female drama. And consider myself blessed from jumping off her wagon.

Because, who needs the drama?

"Female friendship is hard."

Somewhere along the beaten, growing up path, I remember hearing females lament this. To other females.

I don't want the drama.

I get along better with guys.

Girls are such back-stabbers. 

It's just easier to be alone.

The truth is, it is easier to be alone. It is easier to save the drama for the dramatic. Friendship sometimes means potential rejection. Being ignored through your best efforts. Being unforgiven in a year-long spat. It means vulnerability. It means a willingness to get hurt.

But, heavens, when it's done right, it's such a blessing.

When it's based off mutual respect, compassion, a genuine effort to look out for everyone's best interest, it's too deep to ignore. It's too important to write-off simply because we're women. Because we "get along better with guys."

There's a group of girls that meet at my house on Sunday evenings. Every inch of their personalities and faces are equally lovely. We share our struggles. We take each other to deep, dark places. We hold each other up. We pray for each other and we talk about the ways the world is spinning, and how we feel we all sometimes turn on an opposite axis.

Lately, I've been struck by an acute feeling, like when your body smacks into cold pool-water.

What if we hadn't worked for this? What if we had rejected the notion of coming together. Because we're women? Because we have a flair for the dramatics?

What would my life be like without their forgiveness? Without their conversations that spring me into a more buoyant week? Would I feel like my world outside of my nine-to-five was as rich? Without the patience they have for me while I struggle to get words out. Or while my house isn't clean.

The answer is no.

I was lost in thoughts of how much would I have missed if I had closed myself off from being a friend. From being available. From not even trying.

Which brings me back to my sweet friend, whom I seek forgiveness. With whom I seek a fresh start. A place for us both to let go of our hurt, anger and grudges and come to a place of reconciliation. A reconciliation born, not from a place of panic or a need for me to erase a name from a list of people who dislike me, but from a place of grace.

From a place where Christ swoops in and loves us. When all of us from any sex are difficult. Because He, for whatever reason, deems us worth it.

Because when female friendship is hard, it's usually worth it.


Rachel Del Grosso said...

Brett... I loved this. I devoured it, feeling tears gather in my eyes. I moved away from my five closest girlfriends almost 5.5 years ago and it's just lately become really tough, and painful, and I've thought about just letting them go to see if it's meant to be. This was so lovely to read. Thank you for writing it

Brett W. Tubbs said...

It's hard when you're far away. And some friendships, a lot of mine, are secure enough to sustain moving away and other tough life elements. I'm sorry you've had a tough time, but your Twitter pals are here for you! <3 Thanks for reading!

Lucy said...

Hi Brett how did you get over being a chronic people pleaser? Coz im one and I dont want to be like that and I don't know how

Brett W. Tubbs said...

Hi, Lucy! Thanks for reading. Recovering from being a people-pleaser is a HUGE topic and actually something I'm still healing from as a matter of fact (I may or may not be working on a longer work of non-fiction about it, but you didn't hear that from me ;) ). It was actually getting counseling after getting out of an abusive romantic relationship that let me see how I derived my identity by how much other people liked me. Once I started learning how to be secure in who I am, regardless of what other people think, I was able to have the confidence to set healthy boundaries. To say "yes" to things I felt the Lord was calling me to do (not just things I wanted to do), and no to the things that didn't line up with who I was.

I hope that helps! Feel free to send me an email if you'd like to talk further. And keep reading! I definitely have plans to talk about this topic further! <3 good luck!

Lucy said...

Hi Brett thank you for your reply:) Your article was literally God send for me coz the whole of last week I was battling with insecurity coz I felt rejected from two of my close friends even though I care for them so much. And that morning when I read your article, it dawned on me that I am a people pleaser. I sat thought for a long time and it was hard to accept the truth. But I knew it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Its just that I dont know where to start now? How do I become secure in myself when I dont even like myself? I guess its a long and painful way ahead for me. But I WILL go through it, of that Im sure.

P.s. I couldnt sent you an email as your email link was not working for me..

Brett W. Tubbs said...

Lucy, you are loved, sweet friend. Hang in there! And when all else fails, professional counseling is so important and life-changing. I'd recommend it to anyone. I'm currently working on a post about it now :)

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