Friendships That Shape Our Stories

Brené Brown's Manifesto came to mind while watching an episode of this season’s Real Housewives of Orange County, the episode highlighted the hardship in many of the friendships on the show. Some of the women seemed to believe that they were strong by hiding their vulnerability and it ended up working against them. What resonated with me the most was that some of the women on the show, right or wrong, tried to deny their friends' story…the women felt that one of the cast members was dating a man who was possibly lying about having Cancer. These women were “trying” to protect their friend by exposing the truth behind her boyfriend’s Cancer story, only problem was that some of the women went through great lengths to expose the truth, they crossed boundaries that they felt entitled to, and relentlessly beat up on their friend, wanting her to jump on the band-wagon to expose this man. What so many of us women forget is that when someone is in love and our blinders come on, or it becomes  “lovers” against the world, those things unite them and makes them stronger, or helps them justify digging-in their heels. Most people will refute inconsistencies or red flags just because they hate being told how to live their lives.

Speaking from experience, when women develop close friendships, we feel entitled to full disclosure of each other’s lives and when expectations are not met, big trouble arises, and ego and gossipy behavior starts to destroy the friendship. Trust is almost always immediately lost and disappointment creates ill feelings toward one another. This situation reminded me of how easy it is to destroy a friendship, especially when we’re not truthful with our friends. If this woman would have stopped and said to her friends, you know what, I don’t know what’s real or not, I believe my boyfriend because I love him but I understand your concerns, I’ll need your full support through this hard time and please don’t judge me when I’m feeling lost. But most of us are not equipped to speak out without ego; we don't feel safe to stand in the truth of our lives and we immediately get defensive when we feel we’re being attacked. Situations like these always get messy and tangled and many people start to get involved, and in most cases, people don't always say the right thing or are afraid to disclose information because they feel others lack empathy. 

While it’s hard to watch a friend make a possibly big mistake by dating that guy, those women can’t feel entitled to ask their friend to live her life as they want her to. I saw myself in some of those women and I felt bad about being that entitled friend, who sees trouble and wants to keep my friends from experiencing it, or if I feel someone is being dishonest and a friend doesn’t see it that it’s up to me to expose it. We're so hard on others when we disapprove of their behavior or relationships. We contribute to each other's fear of inadequacy. And therefore, unwillingly make each other suffer unjustly. Ultimately, it’s each person's life to live, and while we might not be experts at navigating our ships during rough waters, we sure wish to have empathetic friends who are willing to weather out the storms with us, and help us stand in our truth without being shamed and without judgment or entitlement. Namaste.

-Fabiola

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