About a week ago, late one evening, I had a special, sacred moment with a girlfriend. I was driving her home from a dinner party when she began pestering me with questions about a difficult area of my life that I have been struggling with.
“Are you feeling sad?”
“Are you getting help?”
“How can I support you?”
At some point her curious and compassionate questions finally revealed a more provocative one:
“Are you jealous that I have what you don’t?”
This question made me pause. Was I? I wanted to be honest. I responded that from the most healthy and objective seat I could possibly sit in the answer was unequivocally “no”. Please! As a therapist who also goes to therapy I should be able to separate joy for others with my own void and grief. But, in moments when I invite and settle into the more shifty, human, and primitive part of me, perhaps the answer in those moments is “yes”. I explained this to my friend, and she seemed to understand my makeshift response. I feel jealous and joyful all at the same time.
Suddenly, I realized something amazing happening in my life at this moment that my friend didn’t have!
“Wait, are you jealous that I have what you don’t have?!” I asked, explaining the details.
“Well, actually yes I am!” she laughed.
I realized immediately the sacredness of this space the minute it was happening and how unfortunately rare this takes place with people we live life with. What took place between two insanely busy women was vulnerable and an honest reflection of who we are to one another coupled with the most real and authentic way to guide each out of out entitlement, jealousy and isolation. We got to sit for a few minutes before life chaos ensued and acknowledge that life is actually really amazing, that we certainly don’t “have it all”, but the blessings are ever so abundant. And, we got to sit in the reminder together.
As a woman hedged into my 30s, I realize that us women are up against a steep hill of needing, requiring and demanding. We are inundated with pressures to perform and peak our careers and have our homes (which we should own, not rent) beautifully decorated. We must have our children (2-3 plus a dog) eating organic and cruciferous vegetables while we prep dinner in our skinny jeans. We should have our social life in place and have found our “life long friends” by now. We should be managing and even fighting against our dulling skin and slowing metabolism. We should exude wisdom and maturity.
I would love to skip some steps of muscling our way into our 40s, and experience the freedom to live in inadequacy and imperfection. I would love to find a way to revel in what’s been gifted, rather than feel the pain of what is “not yet” or even “maybe never”. If finding freedom of not being “enough” is truly the goal here are some quick thoughts on what could help or hinder:
- In person conversation versus social media: Finding moments to make real connection with others about struggle, loss, vulnerability, failure, and the need from others to help us rise up and try again.
- Meditation/prayer/journaling versus Netflix and Amazon Prime binge nights: Quieting the mind into a place that can receive our buried, yet existing feelings of gratitude and contentment.
- Curiosity versus Gossip: Inviting friends into a place of trust – our interest in their life stems from desire for intimacy, not desire for entertainment.
- Giving versus Getting: Extending resources to others who are underprivileged or in need helps recalibrate perspective and enacts humility.
I’m on the hunt for real, authentic intimacy! I believe these types of relationships with my friends can literally save me from a lifetime of misery and grief. Will you join me?