Not exactly what those who talk about “purpose” and “gifts” typically go to. I mean, who wants to dig through their emotional and physical crap looking for the “up side”?
But when it comes down to it, that’s exactly where so much of the hidden gold of our souls purpose is buried. In the stories of our lives that brought us to tears.
When I was in the last half of the 6th grade, my parents suddenly and without warning moved to another part of town. Rather than waiting until I finished elementary school with the rest of the kids I had grown up with, Mom and Dad bought the Big House, had a friend pick me up from school one Friday, and said, “Welcome Home!” as they showed me my new room. I would start at my new school, walking distance away, after the holiday.
Suddenly, on the Eve of my teens, I found myself the “new girl”. If you remember anything about being 12 years old, you’ll remember how important friendships were…and how it seemed so necessary to be part of a group.
Missing my old friends as much as I did, I desperately wanted to fit in and be part of the group of girls in my class. From the number of sleep overs and hang outs, I succeeded. We had 5 months until graduation and I remember how excited we were, and how grown up we were feeling, knowing that after summer, the next time we went to school it would be as very mature Junior Highers. Some of us would even be “teenagers”!! Suddenly, the big moment was upon us! After putting on a production for our parents, and giving final farewells to beloved teachers, we all quickly made our way to the exit …where all the girls in my class walked away together in a group, leaving me behind.
I remember standing there confused, watching them veer to the left and around the corner – a mass of giggling, excited young girls. And it was when I turned and looked to the right, that I saw her and understood. Turns out one of girls – someone I believed to be a friend – was having a pool party and sleep over to celebrate the Big Day, and Kim and I weren’t invited.
Kim. Poor, homely, (unfortunately) smelly special needs Kim was walking home in the other direction alone. In the same direction I was going. At that very moment, something broke inside of me. I turned to the right and started walking behind Kim. Alone, heartbroken, and forever changed.
This event would become a major turning point in my life, and the reverberations of it lasted well into my 40s. I would spend that summer locked in my room with only my books for company, where I lost myself in stories of Pirates and Mermaids and friendships that lasted forever. When Junior High began, I instinctively took my place on the fringe. I didn’t fit into any of the nice little cliques, but I did have friends. We were the odd ones, the unpopular, the disenfranchised. My social circle would stay like that well into High School, and the summer after graduation I married the first guy that asked me, and moved out-of-town. I’ve been gone ever since.
For decades, I struggled with relationships with other women. I didn’t particularly like them, and most of my closest friendships were with the guys. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of healing, to bring that wounded little girl out of the shadows and into the Light where she understood – on every level – how loved and accepted and acceptable she was. That women can be safe, and that some friendships are real and deep and true. And I made it part of my Life’s Purpose to reach out to those who were out cast, disenfranchised, and left behind.
I’ve had a very emotional last couple of weeks. There is so much going on in my life that I can’t find the words to talk about it all right now. But it’s all good, and it’s all about letting go of whatever and whomever no longer belongs in my life. I’ve made some big changes, too, including taking steps regarding who I allow into my physical and virtual space. Just a few days ago, I went through my Facebook friends list and culled a whole bunch of people. Interestingly enough, most of them were…are…the Popular Kids from my school days. I unfriended them because they never interacted with me. Year after year, while liking and commenting on posts from mutual friends, they never acknowledged my existence – even after my attempts at being social with them on the social network.
But not any more. I’m all grown up now. I decide who will be in my life, and I will only accept those that celebrate me, not merely tolerate me. I Facebook Without Obligation.
The final cut with this painful part of the past came yesterday when I contacted the arranger of our high school reunions. I have yet to go to a single reunion, and I told her last night that I won’t be going next years, either – not to even bother sending the invite. It will be our 40th. – a big mile stone and one that I initially was looking forward to. But the truth is, I have no desire to go now. Anyone that I share a REAL connection with is already a part of my life, and will continue to be – Facebook or not, or reunion or not. I have my own group of fabulous friends, and the last thing I feel like doing is putting myself in a situation where those same “kids” that walked away from me in school, and ignored me on Facebook, have the opportunity do it again in real-time.
It’s Graduation Day.
Watch me walk.
There are two kinds of women: Those that have a sister, and those who do not.
I fall into the latter category: I am one of the Have Nots.
The subject of “Sisterhood” has been on my mind a lot recently. Barring the completely dysfunctional situation (I have one friend whose older sister tried to kill her when they were both just young girls), and understanding that NO relationship is perfect, I think having a sister would be absolutely a-maz-ing!
Like a kid in a candy shop without the money to buy anything, I’ve watched my girlfriends with their sisters with great longing. Maybe even a little envy. OK, a lot of envy sometimes. It’s a feeling that has been amplified under this latest cycle, and the truth is, no matter how close a friendship may be, the relationship with Sister always trumps it. End of story.
And why wouldn’t it? From the outset, your sister is your first and best friend and playmate, your confidante and ally. She is your caregiver, the defender and cheerleader, and your partner in crime. She also goes through all the familial “stuff” with you – everything from covering for you with Mom and Dad to shopping for the perfect outfit for your first date to sharing in the birth of your children. And she is also there to go through those really difficult times as well – death, divorce, illness, aging and everything in-between.
Sisters stick together. That’s what they do.
Having a sister – or not – is actually a huge deal, as it turns out. There are entire studies showing how those with sisters and those without are different. Sisters impact everything from our overall sense of well-being, to how we relate to others, to how lonely, unloved or fearful we may feel.
Over the years, I’ve had a few friendships that were so close, we felt like sisters. In fact, a couple of times, we even looked enough alike that people mistook us for blood kin. Oh, these are the kinds of friendships that make life so tolerable and fun and wonderful. My girlfriends have shown me true love and support, encouragement and comfort, and made me smile through some pretty rough times.
These friendships have also shown me that, when stacked up against someone who shares their literal DNA, I am and always will be a close second.
Maybe even third.
I am still so blessed. Each of the women I call “Friend” holds a special place in my life and in my heart, and I treasure them as the gold that they are. We laugh together and cry together, shop and do lunch, and have been known to toss back a cocktail or two (maybe three) as we sat on my patio solving all of our problems and the worlds as well. These friendships, in a word, are precious.
But sisters we are not nor can we ever be. When the “If You Love Your Sister” meme on Facebook is posted and tagged, I will not be included. When the family reunion pictures are taken, I will not be in them. And when I share my secrets with one of the Haves, in the back of my mind I’ll always be wondering if those same secrets will be shared later with Number One, the real BFF.