Just the other day, my best gal pal told me the truth. Not the stroke-your-ego and build you up kind of truth. No, no. The you've-made-me-really-angry-and-you've-hurt-me-and-I-don't-like-this-about-you truth. She challenged my listening skills and my (bad!) habit of being too sympathetic. She'd grown tired of the pitying tone in my voice and asked if I could please just be less negative.
I responded like the controlled, emotionally stable woman that I am: I blubbed like I'd lost my first love, gasped deep, gulping sobs into the phone, all while choking out a, "It's okay. No. Really. I'm so glad you told me. I'll be fine."
I, of course, was not fine. I was heartbroken and stunned. She was right in all that she said, but I was not prepared for the cold, hard facts, and her strong words led to some long and thoughtful moments. I questioned every aspect of the way that I befriend the women in my life and I re-evaluated how I define supporting them. I realized, in the weeks that followed, that when I grow lazy in listening to the heartaches of my friends, I do DO all of those things.
I've since dried my shocked tears and taken a step back from the emotion of the moment. I've come to terms with the fact that I may be less than perfect as a girlfriend. I'm working at changing the things I know how to change. And I'm moving toward gratitude.
I am grateful that I have a woman in my life that will tell it to me straight. In fact, I have several women in my life, who, if pressed would be candid in building me up, correcting me, or supporting me in whatever way was needed at the time.
These women are excellent in so many respects; they are bankers, teachers, caregivers, hairstylists, business women, and homemakers by trade, but their deepest strength lies in their character.
If you sat with any one of them one on one, they would be quick to admit that they don't feel brave or significant. They would laughingly (sometimes tearfully) tell of a misstep of the day, a mistake in business or parenting. They do not feel powerful. They do not feel exceptional. They do not believe that they are extraordinary.
But to me, they are. Each one, in their own way, exemplifies integrity, purpose, and powerful beauty. They are kind. They are generous. They are genuine. My life is made better every day by the presence of these few--and they bring this quality and substance to everything that they do and to every relationship they foster.
Theirs is a presence I need in my life. Sometimes we mishandle each other. Sometimes we completely fail each other. But there is worth, in these women that I call my friends, that cannot be matched by any other thing in this life.
So when the phone rings and it's one of the girls telling me of hurt feelings or frustration, I want to be quick to bend and change. Maybe some of the stuff she's made of will rub off on me.