When the movie Girls Trip was first released, I remember hearing about groups of women flocking to theaters in droves. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The movie was said to be hilarious, real and reflective of the dynamics of sacred female friendships. When I finally went to see the movie a good month or more after its release, I went alone. My son worked for a local movie theater and gave me one of his allotted free passes. I sat in the very back row of the small and practically empty theatre and laughed, cried, ate popcorn and talked to the screen. By myself.

Yes, Girls Trip is one of those movies that is meant to be seen with friends. I didn’t go alone because I wanted to. I went alone because I wanted to see the movie and because, honestly, I had no girls to enjoy the Girls Trip experience with.

We’ve moved four times in the past 10 years and while I have both old friends and new friends I’ve gained along the way, none of them lived in Savannah, GA, where we lived at the time to accompany me to the theatre that day. Well, I did have one friend locally who I really enjoyed talking to but our schedules were always so opposite that we rarely got a chance to connect. So on that particular day, I was alone. The movie was great, which made watching it solo a bittersweet experience.

The truth is, I don’t have a group of “my girls”, my Flossy Posse anymore. I have acquaintances, women with whom I’m friendly but it’s just usually within the common circles we frequent but nothing beyond that. And then I have friends, women whom I hold dear that I enjoy spending time with outside of our familiar circles, but no besties; no one with whom I am connected with daily in one form or another. The women in my life who were once upon a time besties aren’t my besties any longer. Not because I wouldn’t want them to be but just because things happened that changed not only the close dynamics of those friendships but the trajectory of our bonds moving forward. After an unfortunate series of incidents involving betrayal towards me during a time when I needed them the most —during the planning of my wedding while I was working full-time and in grad school—, communication between me and my girls came to an abrupt halt right after the wedding when I learned of the betrayal. That pause in all that was once safe and familiar lasted several years. For some of these women, it would be well over a decade before we communicated (via social media) again. I’ve reconnected with all of them, and there’s one I stay in communication with more than the others via text, but that initial tear in the fabric of our friendship only got bigger with time. Like a quilt, we’ve patched things up, but are no longer side-by-side and are now separated by multiple different patterns and pieces of life. It happens. But I am extremely grateful for the level of friendship we do still have. God knows I miss my girls and the way things used to be.

But then, there’s the trust issue. The women of my past are women I confided in on the deepest levels and expected them to still be here riding through life with me. I was supposed to talk to them via phone and FaceTime several times each week if not daily. We were supposed to continue to have our version of regular girls trips. I was supposed to be in their weddings as they were in mine. They were all supposed to be aunties to my children as I was to those who had children before me. Just the thought of allowing myself to be that vulnerable with another woman or group of women again makes me uncomfortable. I have found over the years that as I meet women, some of with whom I’ve grown close, I only allow myself to go so far. I don’t share everything. I don’t show all of who I am. I want to, but I don’t. I know it is not fair to them that I am not showing up fully, but it has nothing to do with them as they are incredible women. It has everything to do with me.

Taking that risk is scary. I second-guess how much to share, only sharing what I deem safe, and I refrain from creating space to make time because, in my mind, they had a life and friends before I came along. If they initiate getting together, that’s great, but it is rare that I make a request for their time. As much as we’ve moved, I’m always the new kid. When I enter circles that already exist be it homeschool circles of my past, my sorority, my 12-Step recovery group for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) or even a group yoga or Zumba class, there are cliques, and I always hear women talking about their best friends. Regardless of how well I seem to blend in or connect with other women, it feels awkward and intrusive to try and insert myself into a picture that is already framed.

I’ve had to accept that I no longer have any real Aces in the Hole as I did in my teens and twenties. I try not to spiral into sadness when I see pictures of groups of friends who have been besties since high school or college who still get together and make time for each other. That just isn’t my life and I need to surrender to the truth that I may never have what I once had in high school, with my best friend who was down for any and every New Edition adventure, and my best girls from the 90s with whom between us we experienced multiple love interests, breakups, job disappointments, births (not my children), a death, college graduation, trips, blindfolded birthday celebrations, my wedding and all of the fun, crazy, hilarious times in-between. I have to mourn what I once had, what I don’t have and step into my big girl panties about the fact that I may never have it again. That’s hard.

Adulting is hard.

My heart sinks a little every single time I watch Girls Trip, or even catch the tail end of it while flipping channels. I’ve never even attended an Essence Festival, but I can fully imagine what it would be like to be there with a group of beloved girlfriends taking in the experience. My mind teeters between me allowing myself to be more open and connected with the women I already know, and creating space for more women to come into my life so that perhaps one day I can have that experience, or, just continuing to ride the current I’m already on; playing it safe and keeping myself limited. It’s a tough call.

Over the past several months I’ve felt called to write what I know based on what I’m experiencing and feeling at this point in my life. One of those experiences is realizing that as a result of pouring myself into my children for so many years, I’m faced with the truth that I have no best female friend(s), no hobbies, and no clue as to what I’m going to do with myself now that they aren’t home (they were homeschooled and are now attending the local public high school). I started writing this piece in August but set it aside because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. One day during a session my therapist strongly suggested that I finish writing the piece and make it a point to create some female connections for myself and how important it was/is for me to trust again. She challenged me to invite someone to lunch or to grab a coffee. And as if God/The Universe/Higher Power was really trying to drill the message home that not only are friendships important and that I need to go ahead and write about what I’m feeling and experiencing, on the very same day, August 22nd, Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a photo on her Instagram feed announcing the studio green light for Girls Trip 2. Immediately, all levels of anxiety and sadness rushed in. Will I have a group of friends or even one really close girlfriend to go see the movie with when it comes out, or will I once again be experiencing the moment alone?

I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that it is exhausting meeting women and at the first hint of connection wondering if she or they could be my new lifelong bestie(s). It feels stupid and extremely juvenile because at my age, is it even realistic to hope for a best female friend? Yet, this is a reality I experience regardless of how 12 it feels.

While writing this piece is cathartic for me, perhaps it can help you if you too struggle with female bonds. If you find yourself in isolation and yearning to connect with other women to cultivate meaningful friendships after betrayal, and/or you are secretly sizing up moms at karate or the quirky co-worker in the cubicle across from you to fill the role of your new BFF, here are some ideas to help you move out of isolation and fantasy and into community and genuine connection:

    • Get Involved – Churches, community centers, the YMCA, non-profit organizations and your child/children’s school PTA board if you’re a parent always have volunteer opportunities and creative ways you can lend your talents to a worthy cause.

    • Chase Your Passions – What do you love to do or what would you like to try? Dance? Join a Soul Grooves Fitness or Zumba class. Sing? Find a local choir to harmonize with. Cook? Take a gourmet cooking class to learn something new that you can later incorporate in your own kitchen. Read? Connect with a local book club. Whatever it is you love to do or think you’d be interested in doing, possibly something you’ve been considering but putting off for a long time, there is likely an opportunity for you to pursue that interest, and now is the time to do it.

    • Talk to HR – Most companies understand and promote the importance of a healthy work-life balance. One of the ways they do that is by offering resources, tools, memberships, clubs and various opportunities for their employees. Schedule a visit with your HR representative to find out what new and interesting work-life balance opportunities await you.

    • Schedule A Coffee Date — As I mentioned previously, my therapist gave me this one as homework (yes, I completed the assignment). If there is someone you’ve met that you’d like a chance to get to know a little better, perhaps a co-worker, another mom from school or one of the kids’ extracurricular activities, or a neighbor, invite her to join you for coffee and use that as an opportunity to possibly open the pathway to a lasting friendship.

    • Reach Out – Sometimes we create stories in our heads when an extended period of time has elapsed since last connecting with once close friends. We tell ourselves it’s been too long and they won’t want to hear from us. The truth is, life gets busy, things happen, and there’s a good chance that they are thinking the same irrational thoughts about reaching out to you. Go ahead, be the one to take the first step in rewiring those lines of communication. You’ll likely find that once the connection is reestablished, it will feel like little to no time has passed between you.

    • Be Yourself – Often in the quest to make friends and be noticed we spread the icing of ourselves on a bit too thick. In our minds we make others far more superior and important and devalue our own worth, leaving us feeling like we have to inflate who we are in order to be liked and noticed. Real friendships are based on authenticity, therefore we have to show up as our true selves from the very beginning. Don’t risk losing the friendship further down the road because you presented a false version of yourself from the start.

    • Trust– We don’t know all the answers. We never will. Living life guarded and in isolation isn’t truly living. It is equivalent to playing at the level of the tiny bean Jack planted in the ground when we are meant to rise endlessly like the sturdy beanstalk. We are worthy of authentic, genuine and safe friendships. Regardless of how damaged and dysfunctional friendships of the past were, that is not an indictment for friendships of the present or future. We have to take risks and trust that things will work out, even when they don’t look the way we imagined them to. At its worse, we will feel the sting of disappointment once again. At its best, we will cultivate meaningful relationships and community with people who we get and who get us. In either scenario, we are better for the experiences as they continue to teach us and help us grow in our knowing of the truth. But none of this is possible unless we lay down our armor and have faith that because we are worthy, things will work out.

Relationships in all forms can be both fulfilling and frustrating. That last bullet point especially is as much for me as it is for you, and if we are willing to allow ourselves to be open and trust, we can experience what’s possible, including watching the movie Girls Trip and taking actual girl trips with our cherished best gal pals. Here’s to healthy and happy friendships for us all. 




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