friendship

We NEED each other!

A dear friend of mine passed away on Mother's day. She was a legendary mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and woman. She was one of the most inspiring, gentle, loving, strong humans that I have ever met and she will be dearly missed by all who knew her. 

My friend was young, only in her mid-thirties, with two little girls to raise and seemingly had much of her life still ahead of her... that is until Stage 4 Cancer showed up on the scene.

For about two weeks now, I have been grieving her death, sitting with the energy of her soul, and, as humans often do, attempting to find (make) meaning of it all.

As part of my grieving process, I felt that I wanted to connect with what her legacy was/is. In other words, what powerful medicine did she bring to this planet through her life (and her death).

While there are MANY things about her that I can (and do) gather inspiration and medicine from (her example as a mother, her kindness, her playful spirit, her zest for life, her commitment to holistic wellness, her artistic/creative nature, etc.) the element of her life that keeps coming forward again and again has to do with vulnerability and connection, specifically in her relationships with other women.

From my perspective, there is a certain cultural myth that is poisoning the hell out of us as women, and in some cases it is literally killing us. (I believe that this was the case with my friend, especially after reading the blogs she wrote before she died).

This is the myth that: as women, we have to have it all together.

Don't believe me? Some examples of ideals that many people in society still subscribe to:

  • We have to "do it all" and be "strong and independent" (if we need to ask for help we will be perceived as weak or messy).
  • We have to be competitive in the workforce (often having to work even harder than men for the same or less pay).
  • We have to stay home and raise our babies (and have a perfect birth and breast feed for the "right" amount of time, and make all of their food by hand, and use cloth diapers... etc.)
  • We have to maintain a certain type of physical physique and dress a certain way (basically we need to look like a covergirl AT. ALL. TIMES.)
  • We have to have our kids in the "right" activities (plus we need to drive all of our kids to all of these activities as well as volunteer on all of the related teams/committees).
  • We have to maintain a "perfect" household; cooking, cleaning and organizing (and God forbid we hire anyone to help!)

(This is by no means a comprehensive list... but you get the picture).

Now these cultural myths are not new to us. They have all been around since before my time even. What is relatively new however, is our current ability to prolifically compare ourselves with others via social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON PINTEREST... they all provide us with image after image, video after video of the "perfect" mom/woman/friend/household/family etc. 

I say enough. Fuck that noise.

I, for one, do NOT have it all together and I am sick of the societal expectation that I should.

Lots of times (and I mean lots), I feel isolated, lonely, overwhelmed, depressed even because I find myself trying to do it all... often by myself.

Yes, I have a wonderful, healthy child. I also have a great relationship with my parents and plenty of friends and acquaintances, however RARELY do I ever let them SEE me. The real me. The vulnerable me. The one who sometimes falls apart and totally doesn't have her shit together.

Now, over past few years the years, I have gradually learned how to "outsource" some of my projects/responsibilities as well as lean on certain folks.  Take my partner for instance. Over the past few years we have managed to fully let each other "in". He can fully see me and hold space for me, and I have learned to let him. This has been completely life-changing for me as I have slowly learned to soften and let go of the gigantic brick wall that I had eternally built up around my heart as protection.

I have also learned to allow other women to "help" me. I have an amazing woman and friend who provides me with before/after school childcare. I have another angel of a woman who comes into my home a few days a week to cook for us. 

But here's the thing, if I'm really honest with myself, I know that this isn't enough. My partner, though he is wonderful and magical and extremely supportive, he can't be the ONLY one that I let in. That's not balanced. It's not even fair to expect him (and our relationship) to be the only one who can hold this space in my life. And while I love and appreciate the two women who help me out each week, I know (and I have known for quite some time), that I need to let others in, specifically more of my women friends, to my inner circle.

This is the legacy teaching that my friend has left me with and one that I am committed to honouring.

In the week following her death, I connected with a few of my closest girlfriends and re-affirmed my commitment to our friendship and my love for them.

These women are a huge priority in my life and I can see so clearly now that I need to show up for them on a regular basis. I need to make the effort. I need to make the time to connect regularly with them. I need to show up for them and I need to let them show up for me.

Across time, space and history women have always naturally "leaned in" to one another in community, connection and support. Red tents, "gathering societies", farming communities, early childhood mothering groups, etc. Connection is in our DNA. I would even argue that, as women, we actually NEED these connections with other women in order to be whole and healthy. 

The way I see it, as the pace of life gets busier and more and more demands get placed onto women and families, we are going to need to each other now more than ever.

And for heaven's sakes, stay off Pinterest.

Lean in,

Nahanni

Moving into RAGE

It is not an emotion that I am comfortable with, nor can I say that I have felt it often… but this morning I woke up feeling, well, rage-y.  

You see, someone who used to be in my life (who shall definitely remain unnamed) ghosted me a few years ago.  What’s that?  You don’t know what ghosting is?  Oh.  Well, let me tell you.  Ghosting is an act of bullying.  It is when someone in your life completely stops talking to you, calling you, texting you or whatever the deal was between you for seemingly NO REASON AT ALL.  They just cut you out of their lives.  No explanation.  No answers.  Nothing.  I believe it is a form of bullying because it is all about power and control.  The “ghost” is using absence/silence (as opposed to aggression) in order to feel powerful by inflicting pain on the other person.  

And HOLY MOTHER OF GOD is it painful.  

I have been ghosted now exactly twice in my life, both times by people who I would have called my “best friend”.  Even now, every time I see the word “bestie” attached to some beautiful Facebook photo of women friends I feel like someone just sucker-punched me in the stomach.  

Because of these ghosting experiences, I have a HUGE WALL when it comes to close friendships in general, but especially friendships with women.  I am finding myself absolutely dead set against the idea of letting any woman ever get that close to me again.  Like HELL-TO-THE-NO.

The first time I was ghosted, I mourned for that person/friendship for a good ten years.  Actually, I still miss her.  It was like a death in my life.  But more like an “unsolved missing person” kind of death.  To this day, almost twenty years later, I have no idea what I did wrong.  The worst part about this is that I feel like I am someone who, when given the opportunity, takes full accountability for my actions.  The problem with ghosting is that you have no idea what you need to take accountability for, so you are simply left wondering (and wondering and wondering)… and that just plain sucks.  

With this latest ghost, I have spent many long hours over the past two years in mourning as well, my grief mixing in with denial, confusion, hurt and eventually a lot of shame and guilt.  (By the way: It is NOT lost on me that this is now officially a “pattern” and that I am responsible for calling it in and creating it.  But, due to the lack of feedback that is inherent in ghosting, I can’t seem to figure out what exactly I am doing wrong and therefore how to fix it!)

Anyway, today for the first time, I woke up angry.  No. I woke up enraged.

Now, I need to tell you that it is extremely rare for me to feel vengeful, but that is exactly how I feel.  I want for this ghost to hurt the way that I hurt.  I want them to feel like they want to melt into the floor every time we have the god-awful “pleasure” of running into each other (which is, unfortunately, way too often).  

I know that this is wrong.  And the farthest thing from “spiritual”.  But it is honest.  It is real and raw.  It is transparent, and transparency is something that I truly believe in and that I am good at.  

Ironically (or probably not), I just finished reading Brene Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong, in which she describes feeling similarly rage-y towards another human being (or beings).  She then moves into realizing that “everyone is just doing the best that they can”.  So, this morning, mixed in with my feelings of rage and revenge, was this underlying thought, “What if Person X is just doing the best that they can?”  

Sigh.

I know that this is true.  I know this because I truly believe that that’s what we are all doing: the best that we can…. which (unfortunately and absolutely) precludes me from doing anything to retaliate against this person, or confront them, or hold them accountable or anything at all probably.

This idea that everyone is just doing the best that they can is an important one.  When you can call it in to your being, even a just a little bit, it can transmute these shadow emotions.  It inspires and cultivates compassion, something that is vital to our survival as an interdependent species.  Even as I write this, I can feel the rage ebbing, its edges are softening as the compassion starts to seep in. 

One of my favourite quotes is by Ram Dass - “We’re all just walking each other home.”

I guess we don’t always get to choose who we walk beside, or why and when they leave when they do.

Nahanni, Dancing Coyote Woman