Last year, I discovered Dr. Irene S. Levine, author of The Friendship Blog. She is a clinical psychologist and renown friendship expert -she is actually called the "friendship doctor". Her blog is pretty much the only place I have been able to find sound advice on mastering the tricky etiquette of female friendships. You can find relationship advice about a significant other all over the internet, but not much about girlfriends and let's face it -- those are some of the most important, time consuming, and impacting relationships that women have.
I have been so incredibly hurt by female friends... and I'm talking,
some serious back-stabbing, rumor spreading, jealousy and "mean girl"
Lindsay Lohan stuff, except with grown women.
These "friendships" have truly been the source of more heartache than I
have EVER felt over a boyfriend or crush. And the more I have talked to
other women about it, the more I have realized that I am not the only
one. Why is it that women do these terrible things to each other? Why do
we allow jealousy to grow roots deep enough to hurt someone only
because we are so unhappy with ourselves? NO MORE.. NO... NOT ME...
This is ridic, this is bananas and I will not do it anymore.
A few days ago, I read the following in an article by Dr. Levine - "One of the requisites of a healthy friendship is being able to feel safe
with a friend—knowing that you can be yourself without putting on airs.
Knowing you can tell her something without it going further. Knowing
your friend will be there for you, that she'll have your back if you
need her. Knowing that you can believe the words she is saying to you.
Once that trust is broken, the friendship has changed and it can be very
hard going back to the relationship you once had."
I find myself in a season of forgiveness.. in learning how to wholly forgive and I can honestly say that I have done that. But what about restoration? I have had to make decisions about who I will try to resurrect a friendship with and who I will just let go. Sometimes, it isn't necessary to "raise the dead".. especially after you have discovered the truth about the relationship. But sometimes, there are friendships you decide are worth fighting for... there has been a true apology and there is a closeness and a love that even after all the drama still remains the same. But how can I feel safe again? As they say - the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.. but can't people change? I can easily resurrect a more distant friendship, but is that really the best thing to do? Now that the healing has been done, it is simply determining where to go from here... Honestly, I need to be careful about who I choose to spend my time with and who I choose to confide in and invest my heart in... I just wonder what happens next?
There is so much about myself that I have learned and there has been so much healing in my life. This has been thanks to my relationship with Jesus. I really can't attribute that healing to anything or anyone else... I cannot recommend a greater lover, a more committed friend, than HIM. There is no relationship in my life that can surpass the long-lasting commitment and safety that knowing God has given me. It has helped me to see myself in a whole new light and it has helped me to learn that regardless of anyone else, I can remain grounded and unwavering. In all the decisions I make, I know that I need to hold on to that.
I want to allow LOVE to surpass all.. I want to be that and model that - "love never fails" .. but I also don't want to be hurt again. God help me.
In a recent text conversation with a friend I kind of shocked myself when I told her - "when opening our hearts to friends, the benefits outweigh the risks." -- Was that really ME talking?! I think so... because you see, I have certainly been hurt and hurt others but I have gained so much more than that. My friendships with other women have taught me so much about myself and have enriched my life in more ways than I can count. Some friendships have fallen apart, new ones always fall together and maybe... some can even fall apart and fall back together again over time.
We'll see... In the mean time - how do you feel about restoring friendships? Do the benefits outweigh the risk?