Being a Loner is Never Your Happy Place
Most of my life, I eschewed the close company of other women because most people of my gender with whom I came in contact tended to be whiny, petty, and catty. It took me a lot of years to realize the women in my world were exactly what I was attracting, much like the unfortunate choices I’d made where men are concerned.
The sad fact is, by the time I reached my 40’s, I could really have used the support of a network of women, but had never learned to develop such a network.
After the Northridge earthquake, I became friends with a woman across the street from me; another single mother with a son a little older than my girls. She taught me a lot about having and being a girl friend in the years we spent hanging out, with kids and without. But as these things often do, we drifted apart when she re-married and subsequently moved away. Though we still keep in touch, we’re definitely not part of each others’ women’s network any more.
Growth Means Opening Up to What You Don’t Know as Much as to What You Do
Fast forward about 15 years and I’m not the woman I was even then, but I find myself wanting and needing that network even more. One thing I’ve learned along the way is in order to be accepted into such a sisterhood, you have to be willing to expose at least some of your vulnerabilities.
The fact is, the women I attract now are all strong, intelligent, self-confident, and empathetic to some degree. The last thing they feel comfortable with is a woman who is all bottled up and trying unsuccessfully to convince everyone she has it all together. Because not one, single, blessed one of us has it ALL under control at any given time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t want or need those networks of women friends.
In fact, the years when I had everyone convinced I was most in control of my life were actually the years when I was a hair’s breadth away from collapsing into a puddle of goo. As I open up to other women, I find I’m not alone in this regard. So many of us became strong because of years spent holding ourselves together with duct tape and baling wire. In other words, life tested our mettle in order to give us the tools we’d need later in life to achieve our dreams.
Learning to Let Go of Worn Out Beliefs
Building a network consists of a couple of main activities. The obvious one is to reach out to other women with whom you feel an affinity. But the one to which I was probably oblivious until recently was recognizing when another woman is reaching out to you, and not just because she needs something! I’m finding that women reach out to me in simple friendship, something I never noticed before. No expectations, no demands, just an offer of their heart. At first, I didn’t know what to do with such a precious gift!
I knew I was oblivious in my younger years when the occasional man showed an interest in me. Who knows? I might still need to be hit over the head with a sledge hammer should someone of the male persuasion want to know me better than the space of a dance or casual conversation between songs.
I had no idea until recently that my oblivion extended to making friends with women as well. Maybe I just needed to learn to appreciate the ones I attract these days first. Then I needed to learn that I was indeed worthy of their friendship.
Hiding the Pain Behind a Wall of Humor
I used to joke about “Ladies who Lunch” or “Girls’ Night Out”. They do say humor hides our true feelings. That the people who spend most of their time making jokes and getting laughs are the ones who are probably hiding serious internal pain. In retrospect, I envied those ladies and girls because they were a tangible representation of the huge hole in my own life.
Those holes can be filled, but how we fill them will dictate whether we heal or wallow. And I know from experience that ignoring them simply gives them room to expand.
My mom tried to fill the holes insider herself with charity work and social events. She sought to immerse herself in doing good for others, but ignored the one person who needed her most; herself. When she needed to take something for herself, those who could have, who should have given to her had already turned their backs after years of mixed signals, masks, and demands we didn’t feel like meeting. By her own actions, we never saw the sad, lonely little girl who wanted to be loved but didn’t know how to go about it.
Vowing to be different from her, I demanded nothing and drew into myself. But that behavior is equally damaging. Telling yourself you don’t need anyone or anything is a lie of the hugest proportions, and that little girl inside us will shout louder and louder until she’s heard: It’s all a lie! You’re lying to your own self and it won’t end well!
Giving Our Inner Child Her Say
My inner child yelled long and loud. I tuned her out for far too long, but she’s finally being heard. She’s grown pretty wise through all of the years she’s been stuffed down inside, observing but not affecting. Now it’s her turn. She’s coming out to play, making new friends, and most of all, having her say.
She learned a lot about balance by watching me teeter over the edge. She learned a lot about work ethic by watching me juggle side jobs along with my 9 to 5 (or 8 to whenever, if truth be told) in a sometimes vain attempt to give my daughters the life I thought they deserved. And she learned that sometimes you just have to follow your passion, even if there are times when you feel like you’re going to go under for the third time financially while you’re trying to figure out where that passion will lead.
She hasn’t made me fearless, as you won’t find me zip lining or bungee jumping any time soon. But she did help me find the courage to do what makes me happy instead of stressed out. She’s still helping me, and the biggest gift she’s giving me is learning to be part of a network of women. She’s helping me love myself enough to know when it’s time to give help and when it’s time to accept it.
Accepting help doesn’t make me weak or helpless as I once believed. In fact, it makes me stronger because I expand my resources to allow the strengths of others to help me over those humps life tends to give us from time to time, I’d swear, just for the Universe’s amusement.
I’ve been doing good things for my body for the last year or so, and am slowly adding even more to my routine. But now, I’m doing good things for my heart and soul as well. Thanks to girl friends.
Letting My Gratitude Flow Freely
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m thankful for the wisdom of my inner child.
- I’m thankful for the women who waited patiently for me to wake up, wise up, and notice they were there to give as well as receive.
- I am grateful for expansion. The more I open my mind, the more I see, hear, and feel.
- I am grateful for love in all it’s forms. And I look forward to discovering more of those forms in the years yet to come.
- I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, new experiences, challenges, lessons, faith, hope, peace, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.
I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!