A few months ago I came across a post on a favorite website of mine. The post was a letter from the author and co-founder, Melody Ross, of Brave Girls Club.
The letter is called:
What if we started telling each other the truth? And what if it was the truth that healed us?
And this is how it went:
Dear Resilient Soul,
It can be hard to be awake in this world… especially if we don’t think it’s okay to feel how we feel or to make mistakes or to show up imperfectly or in doubt.
So what if we showed up imperfectly?
What if we showed up with our human self bleeding inside with hurt and doubt sometimes?
What if we showed up awesome, too?
What if we just told the truth that we feel this way… that being a human is really hard, and sometimes we forget what we know. Sometimes we don’t have the strength to keep going by ourselves. Sometimes we need help.
You know what makes it hard to keep going? When you think you’re the only one who doubts, who makes mistakes, who falls apart, who hurts, who gets angry.
What if we started telling each other the truth?
And then what if it was the truth that healed us?
Beloved one, we are here doing this life together, and being human is hard for everyone. Connection makes it easier. Love makes it easier. Let’s show up as we are and love each other.
You are so, so loved.
When I read this letter, I couldn’t help but think of my friend of 40 years. She’s my dearest, most beloved friend. I cherish her.
As little girls, we would sing and dance to “Grease” and “Blondie”. On the weekends, we’d lay in the grass for hours looking for 4-leaf clovers. Summers on the beach we’d put sun-in in our hair, listen to The Eagles on a cassette tape and memorize the songs. We loved to day dream about our future. We planned it out. It looked like this:
- Attend the same college
- Marry brothers so we could become sisters
- Have children at the same time so our children would become best friends like us.
- If we did not marry brothers, we planned that one of our kids would get married to the others, and that would make us family.
- Remain friends (of course).
We had a few misses, but overall, we did well with our plan. We did not attend the same college, we did not marry brothers, but our husbands are hilarious together and get along well. I gave birth to three boys and she had two boys. Her two boys are the same ages as my older two and they are all really good friends. The oldest ones are actually best friends. Eleven years ago, when I got pregnant with my youngest son, she giggled and proclaimed, “You’re on your own this time, Sister!” We laughed. Then I gulped.
Today, as we live out our life plans, we are aware that everything is not as easy as we expected. There is no doubt we have shared so many great memories together, but as we rapidly approach our late 40s, I recall my father warning me, “Life is hard.” I remember joking about that statement at a Bare Naked Ladies concert as we tried to sing as fast as Ed Robertson and Steven Page and not miss a lyric. We’d miss a lyric and squint our eyes at each other while fake frowning: “It’s hard,” we laughed.
My father was right, life can be very hard…and hectic.
Despite our full lives, we always manage to meet up as often as we can in person or over the phone. Just like Melody Ross challenges us to do, we “show up awesome” or, “show up imperfectly.” We howl with laughter about situations, or share honestly about tough stuff. It is such a relief to tell the truth and know she will not judge or love me less.
When our children were babies, we would get together and gush about how adorable they were and the cute things they did. We would also share our concerns about their sleeping habits, wilfulness, eating problems, and in my case, Autism. As our children aged, we find that our get togethers involve a little more “bleeding.” As they say, “bigger kids, bigger problems,” and they were not kidding. Thank God I can bleed with my friend. It’s easier bleeding together.
Over the course of our friendship, there have been a few times when one of us required a little more TLC over an extended period of time. We never resented the other for it. Instead, we’d remind the other:
“It’s OK. It’s your turn right now to be heard and cared for.”
Most of the time, however, there is equal give and take. No matter how our visits go, we always end with a big smile, an embrace, then sigh. I don’t know exactly what she is thinking during that embrace, but for me, I have a few things that enter my mind:
- I feel better now.
- I’m not as crazy as I thought.
- I am pretty sure she thinks I’m crazy today.
- I don’t know how she does it.
- Everything is going to be ok.
- I love that she’s my friend.
What is so clear to me today is that despite all the joys in our lives, it is still hard. We get hurt. We feel doubt. We are afraid. We get angry! We feel alone. At times we don’t have the strength to do it on our own. Melody Ross is right when she says that when we feel this way, connections and love make it easier. To show up and tell the truth in a friendship- that is what heals us- and that is my friend.