A lot is written and taught about making romantic relationships work. Or how to cope when they end.
And then we have our girl friends. A deeply nourishing and equally complex relationship that gets attention for all the wrong reasons. Ask any woman and she will name at least two or three women as her best friends. Women get each other. The benefits of female friendships have also been scientifically proven. Research shows that friendship between women counteract the stress experienced by us on a daily basis. These ties of friendship also reduce the risk of heart related disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. The Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. The study also showed that women with close friends survived the death of a spouse with no physical impairments and permanent loss of vitality.
A friend of mine recently 'broke up' with one of her best friends of 17 years. Obviously in pain and desperate for closure, she didn't know how to deal with it and frankly neither did I. This incident forced me to look at the unchartered territory of girl friend break-ups. I've personally parted ways with several women friends, sometimes organically and sometimes with a fair amount of friction. Why isn't this written and talked about enough?
So I put together a few steps that I've unconsciously adopted in my life in situations like these.
1. Make time to grieve
Something precious in our life has come to an end. It might have lasted a few months or a lifetime but a fallout with a dear friend is always painful. Make sure to grieve this change in your life. Don't deny it or layer with anger or apathy or judgments. Allow yourself to feel the pain and let the tears fall.
2. Look for life lessons
Everyone we meet - for a moment or a lifetime - has appeared in our life for a reason. What life lessons does the end of this relationship bring? Perhaps it could be a simple acceptance of change and movement: we are constantly growing and and sometimes our friends and family don't share the same journey with us. Or it could offer a deeper lesson in self-discovery. Were you selfish around this person? Did you take her for granted? Was she spewing toxicity, keeping you from moving forward or ahead? Look at all angles and search for a take-away.
3. Write a gratitude letter
You don't have to send this but it's important to acknowledge all the good this relationship brought into your life. Sometimes when things end badly (or simply end) we tend to focus on the last leg of the journey. How the other behaved or what they said. We forget all the good times. There is always something to be grateful for, so make a note of those and give thanks to your friend for bringing some light and laughter in your life.
4. Forgive and release the negativity
This might take a while but is an important step in the process of healing and closure. Unresolved relationships add a lot of baggage to our life, preventing us from moving forward or feeling free. The practice of forgiving doesn't imply that you're condoning the other's behavior. Instead it is a practice in letting go of that part of the relationship that is bogging you down and draining you energetically.
As women we understand each other in a way that is very unique and nourishing. We need this sisterhood to feel understood, to share our dreams and fears and inspire each other to live our best possible lives. Let the end of such a sacred connection be graceful and loving...
Have you ever had a fallout with a girl friend? How did you deal with it? Would you do something differently today?
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