Drawing Strength from the Power of Girlfriends by Samara Leigh

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of girlfriends lately. I guess it really started with the release of Sex and the City – The Movie , earlier this year. My best friend and I are both fans of the show and I’d hoped to venture to Colorado to see it with her. The trip west didn’t happen.

Plans to see it with local girlfriends fell through because of a last minute scheduling conflict. That and my insistence on seeing the movie on opening weekend. The end result: I ended up watching a movie all about the importance of women friendships alone.

As I watched the story unfold, each character went through her individual trials supported by her closest girlfriends. I was fully engaged in the movie. Yet, my mind flashed back repeatedly to times in my own life that would have been simply unbearable without the support of my closest girlfriends. Relationship drama. Job drama. Kid drama. We’ve supported each other through all sorts of difficulties.

We’ve also served as the voice of reality for each other. Sometimes that means being “the bad guy” and telling you things that you really don’t want to hear. It’s much easier to get your head out of the clouds and your feet safely on the ground when a girlfriend is there talking you down, as opposed to inevitable crash you’d otherwise experience.

I left the movie a red-eyed mess (one of the reasons I was grateful I went alone). Yes, the tears were because I’d been drawn once again into the ups and downs of Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda’s lives. But, they were more because I realized how important it was to have close girlfriends who live nearby and I missed that.

“But, they were more because I realized how important it was to have close girlfriends who live nearby and I missed that”

My best friend and I have supported each other through so much over the past twenty years – most of it via telephone, email, and instant message. Then there were the occasions when only a visit would do. However, there have been many times when one of us wanted the other to physically hold her hand through family disasters or medical procedures and it simply wasn’t possible.

My best friend of more than 20 years, my closest business allies, and several other women I am quite close to live several states away. Most of my girlfriends that are in Northeast Ohio live a considerable drive away. I’ll admit that I’ve passed on a coffee date or other events that meant driving all the way into the city or to the Eastside burbs. It just didn’t seem worth the time, the effort, and the week’s worth of gas just to have a two-hour lunch. Wouldn’t a phone conversation do? (Wow! That sounds really bad when you say it out loud.)

Since my teary-eyed solo movie date I’ve been thinking a lot about the dynamics of friendships between women. Ever noticed how easy it is to relax when you’re hanging out with a bunch of your girlfriends? You’re not worried about your hair being perfect, whether you’ve got spinach in your teeth (because if you did they’d be rolling on the floor laughing), or being politically correct. You can just be you.

Our circle of girlfriends is our safe haven; perfect for sharing our innermost thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears. Within the safe borders of this close knit group we are able to strip away the brave façade we put on for all of the people in our lives who depend on us: bosses, kids, spouses, parents.

Among our closest girlfriends it’s okay to admit that we’re scared about the future. That we no longer find joy in our job, our relationship, or even life in general. And when we aren’t honest with them (or even with ourselves) our girlfriends have an uncanny ability to cut through the crap. They force us to be honest with ourselves. They listen patiently as we work through our issues. They support us in our decisions.

Girlfriends are invaluable through tough times. But, our best girlfriend memories usually surround happy moments that are as vivid now as the day they occurred – no matter how long ago. We can still hear the laughter shared over lunch, during a birthday celebration, or during a girls’ getaway. When we think of those moments they still make us smile or laugh till we cry. The memories of those special times comfort us and bring us joy even when our world seems to be crumbling around us.

As the job market, the economy, and so many other once stable entities fluctuate around us we can still rely on that core group of girlfriends to be there for us. To help us ride the waves that life sends our way and come out on the other side safely. We may have a few scars, but we’ll also have bragging rights. Best of all, we’ll still have our best girlfriends.

During the months since I sat in that movie theater I’ve been working on being more diligent in connecting with my girlfriends – locally and long-distance. I joined a local book club where I’ve met some wonderful local ladies who love the written word as much as I do. I joined forces with a friend to start the Girlfriends EnTourAge Travel Club – a virtual café where women share past travel experiences and plan women-only events and vacations that will create beautiful memories and lifetime friendships.

We are currently experiencing turbulent times. Many of us are either personally experiencing some kind of difficulties or we are anxious about the state of the economy and the job market in general. The upside to all of the bad news is that many of us are rediscovering what matters most – the people in our lives. So, as you deal with issues that arise in your life, don’t forget to tap into the endless well of support available to you. Draw strength from the power of girlfriends.

Samara Leigh Samara Leigh is a Northeast Ohio-based freelance writer, entrepreneur and E-consultant. Her non-fiction and fiction work celebrates the triumphant spirit of women on a journey of self-discovery..

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One Response to “Drawing Strength from the Power of Girlfriends by Samara Leigh”

  1. J. Christensen 06. Nov, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    I totally agree with the need to connect with your girlfriends. They understand you in a way that your husband/boyfriend never will, and provide a different kind of love and intimacy – real empathy and support.

    And, it’s important to make the time to get together with your friends (sisters, too – my sisters are my best friends), to relax and really let your hair down.

    I always vacation with my sister (and often with all 3 sisters), and it helps us catch up on what’s going on in our lives, without the distractions of jobs and other family members.

    And you can enjoy a WOMAN’s vacation, doing the things YOU enjoy! A recent trip to Boston with my sister included a food tour of the North End (Little Italy), focused on ingredients and market shopping – something you might not get to do when you’re on vacation with hubby and the kids.

    Check into http://www.great-womens-vacations for more women-focused trip ideas.