Friendships are a source of both joy and heartache.
Women have a greater need for friendships than men do. Our friendships run deeper. Men like to “do things” with friends. Women want to “know things” about each other. We love to do things together too, like shopping, but we want to talk while we do it!
Girls are naturally drawn to each other. A girl’s first experience with heartache may have been a lost “best friend” rather than a “boyfriend.” When friendships are lost, women grieve.
We do not just grieve for the friendship, but also the secrets shared, the trust was given, and the acceptance enjoyed. If betrayed, the pain runs deep. No one can cause you more harm than someone you have trusted in deeply.
Most recall a time in school when a friend we trusted proved to have loose lips. It cut like a knife, and that is when it starts – the creation of the mask.
The “you” you are willing to let the world see. We hide behind our masks, thinking we are better off, but we lose so much. If no one knows I’m struggling, I deny them the chance to get to know me, help me, and keep me accountable.
How it started and however it was reinforced, we want to look at how we can take the mask off and start to be real.
We don’t want to risk letting people see the bad stuff. If we let people see just the good stuff – if we never let them see the bad – we will be accepted and enjoy good friendships.
If you are being accepted by people because of the false front you present – then deep down you know it is only the false front being accepted. The real you will remain alone, and you know it. That is why so many women who we see as “picture perfect” are struggling with deep insecurities.
How do we start?
Before we can allow others to see inside of us, we must accept who we are. If we are not comfortable with who we are on the inside, we will always hide behind walls.
If we can learn to live our life through and accept ourselves as imperfect people, we will learn to accept others as imperfect people too. We will be able to take off our masks and allow others to do the same.
Intimacy = Into me see.
Intimacy is allowing others to see what is inside. Scary idea, isn’t it? Practicing intimacy with others is all about learning to be transparent. The only way we are going to learn to be transparent ourselves is by practicing acceptance of others.
How do you respond to people who are being transparent? People who are letting it all hang out, with no pretenses or masks? Do you see the negatives and immediately judge them? Do you find yourself secretly wishing that they would put on that mask?
The next time someone comes along with no covers on, with their emotions and negative traits hanging out, take time to check them out. Look them in the eye and consider everything about them that drives you crazy!
Then go to the bathroom and look yourself in the eye. Don’t start thinking “Well, at least I don’t go around like that!” or “I’m not so bad compared to that.” That will ruin everything. No, look and see the real you. See “the you” that is most definitely not perfect.
Now love yourself.
It will be a freeing experience for you. You will be on the way to accepting yourself and others.
If you are living behind a mask, I encourage you to take it off! Go to someone you can trust, maybe a Counselor or a Spiritual Advisor to start. If you have been wearing a mask for long, you may need to go slow. That’s okay, just don’t move backward!
I have shared my insecurities with people who in turn used them against me, my dreams with people and been made fun of, reached out in friendship only to be rejected completely. I won’t lie. It hurts. But for every time that I have been hurt, I have a long list of times that I have been blessed. I have made friends I would never have imagined. Amazed at how my struggles have given other people hope.
Intimacy is not for every relationship. You do not have to lay your heart bare for everyone. That isn’t even healthy. Intimacy is different for everyone. I have a few close relationships. These are women who I can go to with anything without being condemned or judged. I have other friends who I enjoy spending time with because we share interests or values. But I would not talk to them about intimate subjects. Our friendships just do not go that deep. It doesn’t mean that I value the people any less than my confidants; I just enjoy them on a different level. It’s not essential that I am intimate with a lot of people, just that I am experiencing intimacy with some.
Relationships come and go. I look back and see women who have significantly impacted my life. Many of them are not in my life today because of geographical moves or for lack of trust. Instead of becoming insecure and afraid to invest myself into new friendships, I have come to see them as a gift for a season.
I have learned to love myself and moved forward with my life in so many beautiful, and exciting ways, through my friends.