Connections. That could be my word for the past five years. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I realized that I needed to make some major changes within myself. Until that point, I had always had difficulty maintaining meaningful and lasting friendships with women. I DID have some cherished female friendships, BUT it was hard for me to be fully open and if someone moved away or got busy with life, it wasn’t that hard to just let them fade away. I’ve always made friends easily with men. I understood them and had fun with them, but women were a mystery to me. I didn’t really know how to have FUN with them without it being weird or me feeling awkward. I was jealous of women who had these deep friendships with other women. I desperately wanted a tribe of my own and even more than that, I desperately wanted to be able to connect with other women without putting so much damn effort in.
I am a HUGE advocate for therapy and therapy is where I got the motivation and the tools to really look at myself and see what was causing these setbacks.
It’s not always fun to examine yourself. You see the parts of you that are ugly and broken. You see parts that you’re ashamed of because of choices you’ve made, things you’ve said, or secret thoughts you’ve had. It can be exhausting to hold up a mirror to your self and actually see the reflection. At times, I really wished I could continue to be ignorant of my self and just sweep it back under the rug. Alas, I had a great therapist and she called me on my shit and didn’t let me stay stagnant. I worked and searched and did that some more until I was finally able to look in a mirror and say, “Hey girl, how you been?” I accepted the parts of me I didn’t really like and acknowledged how those parts were keeping me from things I wanted. I worked with my therapist to develop tools to bridge where I was with where I wanted to be. It wasn’t overnight. In fact, I honestly think it’s a life-long process. After all, each stage of life brings change and you have to adjust to a new normal and figure out how to work with what you’ve got.
All this to say, once my daughter was born, I was ready for a change.
I signed up for a local consignment sale with the hopes of finally being able to clean out my garage and, you know, use it. I thought I was just going to show up to a few volunteer shifts so that I could earn a better sale percentage, but I found so much more than that. Maybe it’s because I was fresh from a therapy session and felt open and new and just full of WOOHOO that I allowed myself to connect with the women at the sale. The owner was (and is) lovely and the ladies I met while hanging clothes, sorting toys, and checking customers out were amazing. When I started my business, they were all in, supporting me through encouraging words, placing orders, and spreading the word. When we were struggling to conceive our second child, we used the money we earned over two sales to do a round of fertility treatment. Praise God it was a one and done situation because as anyone who has gone through fertility treatments already knows…that crap is expensive. It’s a whole other pile of things (both good and bad), but for someone on a tight budget, the expense was the most concerning to me at the time. In a way, I have my son because of that sale. He was bought and paid for by selling our old things and making room for new. It’s a metaphor for what I was going through at the time…letting go of the old me to make way for a new me.
Each time I volunteered at the sale, I would meet new women and have new conversations. We would share tidbits of our stories while checking clothes and sorting shoes. I’ve met some women who I consider great friends at this sale. I’m thankful for their friendship. It was also fun. I needed to see that I didn’t have to work so hard to be friendly and have fun with women. It was a huge boost to my confidence and my plans going forward. I’ve since joined several Moms Clubs (with varying degrees of success — seriously check out this article) and found my tribe. I make friends with others now more easily. These are no longer surface friendships as past, but meaningful friendships that nourished me. I no longer feel awkward and out of place around groups of women. I can hold my own and contribute in such a way that I get what I need in return and hopefully give others what they need in return. Connections.