Saturday, October 29, 2016

Holding My Truth

There's something intrinsically beautiful about female friendships. "Women instinctually know how to nourish each other, and just being with each other is restorative" (Tanja Taalijard).

Historically women have provided one another with emotional support and friendship when marriages were often arranged for reasons other than relationship. And those relationships were not exclusive relationships. No, women created webs of friendship.  Says Caroll Smith-Rosenberg, "Friends did not form isolated dyads but were normally part of highly integrated networks."

Today commentary about female friendships proliferate. Rebecca Traister, in her own NY Times article dated February 28, 2016, writes, "Women who find affinity with one another are not settling... they may be doing the opposite, finding something vital."
I struggled with female relationships. My mother was not a good model for me in this respect as in others. Still, I navigated my way into some beautiful friendships. I often found them tarnished though when my husband would talk about his fantasies: "When you said she was here, I imagined I'd come home and find both of you naked waiting for me in our room."

Right. Because that often happens outside of pornographic films.

I also didn't talk about some of the most horrible things in my life with any of my female friends. I felt like sharing things about my marriage would be disloyal to my husband. My mother-in-law unwittingly underscored that belief when I went to her early in my marriage. I told her about some of the things my husband wanted and she advised, "Men want a lady in public and a whore in the bedroom." I thought that meant all men wanted the things my husband did, and stopped talking about it.

And then a friend got involve with a married man, and I thought telling her my story about my husband and I would show her what it's like to be the wife of a man who was being pursued by another woman. I shared everything: his porn addiction and how that played out in our lives, how an employee turned his head to the point of convincing him to send intimate pictures of me to her, and how painful all of it was for me.

It didn't educate her or stop her from her own quest to destroy a marriage.  Instead it changed her target. After I poured out my heart, she started texting my husband and they played games like Adult Truth or Dare. She propositioned us to conduct a partner swap during a weekend stay at a casino. And she ultimately married my husband.

One could imagine an experience like that creating a deep mistrust of women, an unwillingness to be vulnerable again.

It hasn't, oddly.

The opposite has happened.

I find myself in profoundly beautiful relationship with the women who held my truth for me until I was strong enough to hold it myself.

And that kind of friendship is worth vulnerability, and even potential pain.

Bob Marley wrote "the truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for."

My truth holders have not let me believe I am worthless or unworthy. They have felt righteous anger on my behalf when I couldn't feel it myself. They have been patient and kind with me when I'm hateful to myself.

Thank God for the truth holders.

And thank God for my developing ability to hold my own truth.


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