Gossip. It feels like the currency of how some women bond with each other. Like, it’s a way to connect with each other. I have done it for most of my life and not until the last year and a half have I had a few experiences where the effects of gossiping were so painful, that I questioned why I was doing it and vowed to be mindful not to do so. It got me thinking about how us women relate to each other and the precarious balance we have between acceptance and self-preservation.
Growing up, I went to 12 different schools. That means, that 12 different times, I went to new schools where I’d try to make friends. Usually, in the beginning, people were reasonably nice to me. Then, after they found out that I wasn’t “popular” material (or who even knows why), they would either ignore me or pick on me. I remember one time in particular, I went to a new school for 2nd grade and Kristy Mayhew, the most popular girl in the class decided to be friends with me. Not too long after that, she decided not to and I was shunned.
In Grade 4 or 5, this girl named Joanne Byard decided to start bullying me. She would kick my backpack out of the after-school bus lineup. She’d say mean things to me and her and her friends would gang up on me.
Then, in high school, Jenny Abelsen made it her mission to be mean to me in Grade 12. She’d walk up behind me and shove me for no reason, then laugh when I’d look at her. She purposely put a really bad picture of me in the school yearbook. I heard that she’d talk shit about me behind my back.
Thinking about those times now, it seems like not a big deal. At the time though, those interactions impacted me (clearly, because I remember their names!)
I think about how us women interact with each other. How we treat each other. The women in my life that I trust the most are women that I’ve known for a long time. The thing is, most of my friends are women.
I caught myself today wondering about a co-worker/friend and if she was telling me the truth about something. I find that I occasionally get this doubt about females. I think that I’ve experienced quite a bit of women treating me a certain way to my face and then I find out that they’ve actually been bad-mouthing me behind my back.
The thing is, I’m loyal to a fault. I tend to want to give the benefit of the doubt and usually I point blank ask the person if something is up etc. Usually, that works fairly well, I think.
I find that I have quite a few amazing, female friendships that I treasure. This is a base for our friendships…honesty and openness.
I’ve only had one friendship that I consciously ended because it seemed to be covertly toxic, for both of us, but I finally realized it. We had been friends for 3 years and we had quite a few shared interests: singing, music, great conversations, a bit of hippy thinking etc. However, after a while, I noticed that we would fuel each other’s insecurity when it came to how we view our bodies. Then she made a few questionable decisions about dating one of my friends and I felt like, Why am I staying in this friendship? That was a hard decision to make and I still question it, wondering if I didn’t have enough compassion.
I’m still working on that. I think the best thing that I can do is look at where I fail as a friend and a fellow female and what I can work on to better those kinds of interactions. Because, at the end of the day, it’s me having the reaction and the doubt and worry, due to how I’ve processed past experiences.
My ideal would be to have women be supportive, compassionate and nurturing with each other, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye or are naturally friends with each other.
“Girls compete with each other. Women empower each other”. xo