I don’t have a biological sister.
But I do have several soul sisters who I am just as close to, if not closer. These are women who have been part of my life for years. Women who have played an active part in my life, as I have theirs, through the thick and thin of it. Women who have earnt my trust, loyalty and friendship over time. As I have theirs. These are friends I could call on, any hour of any day, for anything. These are women who have my back, no matter the circumstances.
The sisterhood is powerful. It’s not something we aim to get to, like a destination. It’s a supporting force with which we travel through life, a bit like a journey with no definable end.
When women support women, instead of tearing them down, amazing things can happen. Our mental health improves, our overall sense of happiness skyrockets. We feel accepted, understood, nurtured and valued for exactly who, what and where we are. We are free from judgement. We are free to be ourselves… good, bad and ugly! Over the years, both as a child and then as a young adult, I moved around… a lot. I’ve basically lived up and down the East Coast of Australia. As a result I’ve spent my life making and leaving and friends. I’ve met lots of people in my travels, lots of people with whom friendships never lasted once I, or they, moved on.
But… In 2009 I had a tree change and left the big smoke of Sydney. I moved to a tiny little town hours away from my regular stomping ground. It was exciting and terrifying all at once. Why? I was about 6 months pregnant when I moved. I knew basically no one and was starting from scratch. I was on maternity leave and setting up a new home, renovating and getting to know my new environment. Oh yes, and I was busily growing a whopper of a baby boy.
For the first few months I mainly associated with my (ex) partner’s friends. I let him lead the way. I was so busy in my own little nest that it didn’t really bother me that I had no gal pals to hang out with. Then, at almost burst point in the pregnancy, I attended an ante-natal class at my local hospital. It was a pink ‘Wandin Valley’ style maternity ward. Think ‘A Country Practice’ … yup. The room was filled with about 10 couples, of all varieties and at all different stages of pregnancy. We all looked around at each other in that genuinely curious, NERVOUS first time parent way. As well as learning about how to squeeze a watermelon out, I had an extra goal. I wanted to meet some friends! The night went quickly and by the end I had one new contact. Great! I also distinctly remembered one face (and belly!) in the group. I never got the chance to speak to her that night so that was the end of that.
Or so I thought.
Long story short, this face and belly that I remembered later turned up at the same Mother’s Group I had joined… she was just as weary eyed and exhausted as me. Our babies were only a few weeks old. Both were boys. Both were big! As the weeks rolled on, Mother’s Group continued and the babies grew. Our friendships blossomed and we became more relaxed and more confident about parenthood… chocolate brownie and tea in hand. It was such an awesome event to have on the calendar, well for me anyway!
I must say, I made a massive error of judgement when it came to one member of the group. I’ll be honest, hand on my heart, and say I came to the conclusion that this ‘face and bump’ wasn’t really the type of person I saw myself having a long term friendship with. There was nothing nasty in it I just felt she was a bit quiet and shy for loud, animated me to connect with. I assumed we’d be total opposites with nothing in common.
How wrong I was.
Here we are, 9 years later, and this woman… without a doubt… is my sister from another mister. We’ve come from totally different upbringings and backgrounds but it turns out we have much more in common than I ever considered possible in my dismissive analysis of her all those years ago. We actually have the same interests, hobbies, parenting styles, outlooks on life, goals in mind and values at heart. On the outside we are totally different but on the inside it’s as if we share the same DNA.
This woman is my rock. We’ve grown so much together. We’ve made so many fun memories. We’ve cried together. We’ve had pity parties when things have been blah (let’s face it…life gets that way sometimes). We’ve celebrated milestones together. We’ve had adventures together. We’ve kept secrets together. We’ve navigated some of life’s greatest challenges together. We’ve listened to each other’s rants about our respective passions in life! (several times! haha). We’ve shared epic fails. We’ve taught each other things. And we’ve shared many a belly laugh.
Our friendship is built on such a strong foundation… it grew organically over so many years. Nothing was forced. Nothing was fake. Nothing was pushed. It unfolded with true transparency on all fronts. As a result of our friendship our kids are also best of friends so we now have the benefit, and the absolute joy, of watching their friendships evolve. It truly is something we both cherish so much.
This woman adds so much to my life. She is my constant. She is my go to. She is my advisor, my dumping ground, my sounding board and my confidant. And I couldn’t imagine my days without her.
Friendships come in so many gloriously wrapped packages and it’s up to us to not always choose the bright sparkly one simply because it’s bright and sparkly. We need to be selective, we need to be authentic and we need to open another package if the one we chose isn’t the right fit for us. If I had to describe the package I opened to find this friend I would say it was modestly wrapped with soft coloured luxurious ribbon that didn’t distract from it’s elegant simplicity.
Our friendships make us stronger as women, as mothers, as colleagues and as community members. They fill our emotional cups and allow us to travel through life feeling lighter in heart and mind. They allow us to get back to, and honour, our tribal roots where vast amounts of time was spent caring for each other’s babies, cooking together and gathering in social circles.
They facilitate the release of more oxytocin, the love hormone, and thus reduce our feelings of stress. Yes, female friendships and the associated bonding have a pronounced physiological payoff. When we surround ourselves with inspiring, like minded women we ourselves become inspired. We grow beyond our wildest dreams safe in the knowledge that someone will always be there for us to help us feel nurtured, supported and respected in a way that no one else can. We become more valuable to ourselves and to the world we live in.
Sisterhood is the path to empowerment. x
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!