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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

The Intimate Sisterhood...

29 years ago on this day, I had one close girlfriend who lived in my town. One.  And I am pretty sure she didn’t like me a great deal of the time.  In fact, I know it.  We hung with each other because it was safer to move about in twos than solo towards the end of our drinking.  We ended up in some pretty dark places...


I had other girlfriends scattered about the globe but even with them there was this distance, distance I put between me and them.  I was not really capable of having any kind of intimacy with anyone really, but most especially with women.


I used to have lots of reasons for this situation and while they were all valid to some degree or another, the main reason I didn’t have close female friendships is because I didn’t want to.  Women were tricky, they were unpredictable in my experience, and they were disloyal.  Men were too but theirs could usually be spotted miles away, women were far craftier and treacherous.  I, like most people, have been betrayed in this life, but I think the worst ones, other than the first one, have been at the hands of women.


Couple that mistrust and dis-ease, with the idea of competing for males, and a fundamental insecurity about myself, my looks, my intellect and my body and women were definitely to be kept far away and let in only so far.


So it was always me and a roving band of boys and then men.  I was a Wendy to their multiple Peter Pans.  I was den mother to the band of misfit, ragtag males who were content to do as little as possible and valued me because I looked after them, helped them with their women issues, bailed them out of jail and generally helped them unfuck their lives.  It was a role and I played it well.  I felt a level of security and superiority if I am honest.  It was a good fit for me until it wasn't.


When I got sober and was told the women stick with the women and the men stay with the men, I was not at all happy.  How was I going to manipulate my way through that?  I didn’t trust men, like at all, but I really didn’t trust women.  And that played out over time because I was not a trustworthy woman myself.  And I have thrown myself under more buses than I can count.


So I was not at all pleased to learn this information. And even less excited to foray over into this dangerous and superficially explored area.  I mean, like I was spending all my time trying to figure out how this edict would not apply to me.  How I could be the exception?


I am grateful today that none of the men would sponsor me.  To be fair, I do not think I asked any either.  But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened.  I am very grateful that I got to hear my first sponsor speak when I had about 30 days and she had what I wanted:  a great job, really expensive clothes, a great car and seemingly a great life.  I didn’t even really hear how much time she had.  I just wanted those things and she was going to teach me how to get them.


So silly really as I look back now.  I was so dumb.  But God wasn’t and he put me with her and in so doing introduced me to the first woman, other than my mother, that I would have a true intimacy with...which was absolutely terrifying and made me feel nauseous every time I had to talk to her.


But she was the beginning the first safe woman I encountered in recovery.  She actually wasn’t really the first, Eve was.  Which is fittingly biblical which is both kind of awesome and weird at the same time.


But they were the beginning of a now lifelong pattern of me having female relationships to work out my issues with and on.  It has taken decades but I have done the work and today have very close, intimate relationships, friendships with women.  And that never would have happened if I wasn’t sober.


I have been blessed to be sponsored by several.  And I have been blessed to sponsor some along the way.  Learning to navigate the stormy, rocky seas of female relationships.  I do way better than I used to even though many of the same issues rear their heads from time to time.


What I have learned in these intimate female relations is that they have taught me how to become a woman of grace and dignity, well at least as much as I want to be those things...I still stubbornly refuse to be completely dignified or graceful.  Preferring a harder exterior for a variety of reasons.  But I have found my tribe, several times over.  Painfully having to leave one and find another on occasion, but have always been lead to where I know I am supposed to be.


Today I love the women in my life.  I am so very grateful for their presence and place in my life.  I depend on them, and they have taught me intimacy in ways no man ever could.


It all started with Eve and Betsy.  They taught me how to be real.  Not some betterized version of me, but just me.  And have that be enough.  To be here and present and who I am.  To just show up in whatever skin I am in at that particular moment, and have that be enough.


It started with them but has evolved over time.  Each new female friendship helping me change, grow, develop and evolve into a better and higher version of myself.  Each relationship helping me get better at intimacy, and authenticity and surviving the relative betrayals along the way.


These female relationships have taught me who I want to be, who I do not want to be, who I am and how I show up. They have also taught me, quite painfully, who I am even though I would rather think better or more highly of myself.  These relationships have been a mirror that has reflected back to me all that I am and am not, repeatedly.


Today, I do not want to be any other woman.  I like me, and hell I will say it, love me, most of the time.  I like the way I look, have made a very tentative peace with my feelings, mostly that I do not believe they are trying to kill me dead all the time anymore.  I have a level of honesty and ability to self reflect.  I can show up for myself and them repeatedly.  Their successes are my inspiration and no longer threaten my security and safety.  Their failures become an place for intimate, familiar love and support without which life would just not be as rich and giving.


I am grateful for all the people I met along this recovering path.  But the women have fundamental changed me.  So on this eve of my 29th year of recovery, in no particular order, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the women most important to me now.  Some on the path as well and others smart enough to never need the path.  To all of you I say, thank you for being willing to love me even though I am often prickly and obstinate.  Thank you for hanging with me through my misguided and often dead wrong ideas about life, love, men, you and everything in between.


Thank you for making me a better version of myself.  Thank you for loving me through it.  Thank you for your steadfast love and loyalty repeatedly.  Thank you for being women of grace and dignity who love me no matter what fucked up thing I do.  Everything I am today has a part of you in me.  The very best parts of you.  I am forever changed and grateful.  Thank you my sisters.  I am forever in your debt.


My deepest gratitude and love to all of the following women who have changed my life and are still here for it today.  I am also grateful to all those women who have been there along the path but now trudge a different road, that no longer includes me.  I am still pulling for you no matter our ending...the love I gave to you and you to me changed me forever.


Thank you to my mom, Grace, Dalis, Mikki, Elizabeth, Jeanette, Stacy, Cece, Sam, Hayley, Chelsea, Christina, Nicole, Andrea, Marjorie, Austin, Kathy, Liberty, Roxie, Deanna, Cheyanne, Maria, Tricia, Alice, Kathi, Ginger, Alanna, Lisa, Nancy, Daryl, Betsy, Amy, Roseanne, Eve, Liz, Meg, April, Cristi, Deb, Deya, Heather, Su, Lee, Taryn, Ellen and Traci.


You healed, wounded, saved, loved, liked, taught, instructed, inspired me to be this version of myself that I am today.  Thank you for all the love and lessons and laughter through it all.  I am truly, forever in your debt my sisters one and all.


Again.


Still.



If I didn't mention your name, it isn't because I didn't or don't love you and value you, It is becaue the coffee hasn't taken full effect to grant me access to the parts of my brain and heart in which you reside.



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