on the solidarity of women and friends

(originally posted on FB)

Looking at all of these Women's March photos from you wonderful people, and seeing the solidarity of women across the world, has been such an uplifting experience. It's been amazing to see so many women surrounded by a community of loving, supportive friends who have their backs. 

At the same time, I'm reminded of a heavy loss of friendship a while back. It isn't something I've talked about much, but every time there is an article on female BFFs or the solidarity of women I feel a renewed sense of loss. 

Several years ago, I lost my best friend of nearly a decade and practically all of our mutual friends (mostly women). At the time, these folks were a huge piece of my support system. We vacationed together, spent every Sunday together, and discussed every topic imaginable from the intimate to the public. I believed that, whatever happened, these people had my back. I believed I could count on them when it mattered most. 

When it really mattered most, though... they didn't show up. I felt abandoned. I was angry that people who could have claimed to be friends, who claimed to care about me, would not only take sides but never make the attempt to reach out to me, neither to check on my well-being nor to get my perspective on what was going on. (There were a couple of people who did contact me, but only one of them managed to refrain from being judgemental.) 

Since then there's been so much else going on in my life that I haven't really thought about what that loss meant to me. Sure, there's a large part of me that knows I don't need to spend time on people who won't show up when it counts. I don't at all believe that this speaks to my worth as a person, or a friend. Still... I lost my best friend, and a group of friends with whom I felt I could be my genuine self without judgement. 

So, as photos and videos from the Women's Marches popped up in my feed yesterday, I felt both uplifted and a little left out. I felt the loss of my female friends even more sharply than when it happened. 

Today, I realized that I hadn't really talked about that loss, except in terms of anger and "good riddance if they can't be bothered to show up". It feels good to get past the anger, and start moving past the loss. The reality is that I have a TON of amazing women (and men) in my life. People who are genuine, supportive, intelligent, kind, and with whom I can be my genuine self without judgement. I have friends and family who I know WILL show up when I need them, and who have done. 

It's time for me to let go of that old loss, and move on. If there is a takeaway from this, for you, let it be to remember that there is more than one side to every story, more than one heart at stake in any relationship, and no matter how roughly we show it, nearly every one of us wants to reach out and have someone take our hand to help us up. Lead with kindness, compassion, empathy, and generosity. Leave the judgements at home.