The vulnerability necessary to open up one’s heart to another is astounding to me. We are often well-versed to do this practice with a romantic partner. Our culture is supportive of this learning-curve with well-known stages of progression from casual “Friends with Benefits” to “Serial monogamy,” advice books, workshops and kitchen-table wisdom passed down.
But what about friendship? What about those folks sitting around the kitchen-table doling out wisdom? Are we as motivated to put in the effort to understand ourselves in these terms when there is no promise of make-up sex or a legal contract obligation (marriage) at stake?
In middle school, right around 12 years old, girls are notorious for their cruelty towards each other as they establish a pecking order based on largely random peer-chosen qualities. Both “popular” and “average” kids suffer from peer pressure, teasing, confusion, rampant self-doubt, depression and anxiety during these turbulent times. Do we ever satisfactorily resolve these issues?
As women, we are taught from the propaganda of maintaining a patriarchal society, that we should not trust each other, forever compete with one another for men, youthful looks, attention, property and achievement. In the spiritual traditions of honoring the Divine Feminine, we consciously enter into a direct healing of this feminine wound to reprogram our bodies to feel safe, loved and honored by other women. Through ritual, deep presence and consciousness, we embody the Goddess herself to love one another.
During a recent circle, I asked the group to hold me, like a gaggle of Goddesses holding their beloved daughter. As I lie encircled by these women from diverse backgrounds and personalities, I felt my body relax and respond to something other than what my rational mind could comprehend. I could have never imagined that I would invite this type of experience and then be so comfortable in this intimate embrace without a thought to how I may look to them or what story they may be having about my asking for this holding. It was simply a gift the Divine Feminine offered me through these human women.
Outside this sacred container, I find intimacy with friends still brings its challenges. So much shadow kicked up with the negotiations of space, time and resources. While I am reprograming my body, my mind is slow to join the party. My mind remembers feeling “thrown to the wolves” in the 7th grade lunch hall after my best friend ended our friendship abruptly. Or even more recently experiencing a dear friend erupt angrily and stop talking to me for a year when I complained that she was not spending enough time with me.
People can be cruel. But then people can also be life-giving, healing and a flowing gift of Mother’s love. The first group suffer from fear, natural survival concerns and habit. The second group may still experience the suffering, but consciously practices surrender, radical self-acceptance of all phases of themselves and a deep commitment to being the love they wish to receive. Hear my prayer dear God/Goddess, as your servant, grant me the grace and surrender to practice humility, compassion, forgiveness and vulnerability every day with each of your tender beings so that they may know you through me. Namaste.