There is a soulful, melancholy fragrance that surrounds the meaning of friendship, whether it is a casual acquaintance or an intimate experience. We often can recall the way a friend looked, the tone of their voice. We may remember something “different” such as our friend’s race, height, weight, or a disability, – any distinguishing characteristic that set them apart. These memories are like old snapshots with age worn around the edge. They may bring a smile to our face or a tear to our eyes. Friendship. A feeling deeper than the core of the earth, yet more fragile than the shell of an egg.
In my years of talking with women, I have found them to be both remorseful and resourceful….like maternal twins – alike and yet so different. They may have been silent about friendships that ripened like a bad piece of fruit, holding themselves out as responsible. But, once they began to open up, to share and to relinquish their guilt, they were free to form new friendships, bonds of joy and giving….giving back to more rather than to less. It is the opening up, the sharing that frees them to be better in whatever role they have assumed, wife, mother, sister, lover, caregiver…….woman.
Forming healthy friendships seems to get easier for us as we grow wise with age. We did not seem to be well equipped as children to always make good decisions in forming friendships. We wanted and hoped and wished, holding our breath – anxious for the small joys that friendship brings. And, many times the selfish acts played out between friends came about because of the desire to have – to belong to – simple wishings in a complex world.
In our youthful innocence we took no responsibility for acts of selfishness toward friends. We learn later that these acts may have far reaching consequences, even surfacing as character flaws. We hold these childhood experiences inside for fear others will know we took part in such an act. This is unhealthy, yet it is so natural for women to carry their burdens privately. We fail to recognize there is no reason to feel lingering shame for an act that was from a child’s mind, a child’s level of reasoning. We gain inner strength when we can reach inside ourselves and acknowledge the adults we have become and let go of the shame.
I had such experiences as a young girl. I kept material things from a girl friend because I had so little and I didn’t want to give up even one piece of the little I had, but as I look back on it; I would have had even more if I had shared.
Letting go permits us to form new friendships that are richer, friendships that are woven from the tapestries of experience. And when this occurs it becomes a beautiful and joyous gift we give ourselves and others.
Through life’s passages, we find healing by talking with friends about incidents that have lingered in our mind- soulful, sad, despairing times of our past. We seek out new friends, ones that are resilient and will help us search our soul for answers. This is not easy to do because we fear a friend will turn away in disgust, asking themselves “How could she have done such a thing?” – Whatever that thing may be. This is a temporary fear because we find that once our hearts begin to open with our story; our friends have one to offer in return. Our world is not clean of sins, nor is the lives of our friends. Many of their turns in life are no different than ours; they simply come packaged with different names and dates.
We can rejoice in knowing our childhood act did not doom us, label us unfit for new friendships. This is another of life’s passages we will travel before we close our diaries. There will be no need to turn the key on the lock of our diaries, because, while they may be sacred, they are not filled with hopeless despair. It is a the way of a woman to remember and to forgive from the heart.