Sitting in that circle of friends was powerful. There is nothing like being seen by friends you love and who love you back. Intimacy is a word that just brings up too much of misunderstanding sometimes in friendship so I call it “Frientimacy.”
Frientimacy Is Authentic
We listened as one shared that’s she not sure she wants to stay married. Another, found out her husband cheated. And another just broke up with the man she wanted. One is trying to decide if she wants kids. Another is due next month. Another just found out her baby isn’t developing on schedule. Another isn’t sure she’ll find someone to marry before she has that choice. Another is struggling with weight and another with financial security and still another with contentment. We shared our pains and disappointments.
We also listened as we went around the room sharing 3 things we celebrate about our lives in the last year. It was spectacular: The risks. The wins. The accomplishments. The completions. The new beginnings. The Ph.D, the new baby, the new business, the new office, the new love. The big anniversary.
It was beautiful to be among friends who have history sharing both. These are beautiful, amazing, professional, intelligent people who live life fully and are committed to truthful friendships.
Frientimacy is Awkward
And while it sounds so good to be honest, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how hard it can be go there.
We are far from being a homogeneous group: some married, some single, some divorced, some with kids, some with none. Through the years many us have traded those roles-the married one becomes single and the single finds her love. Often at the same time. And we have to celebrate one and grieve the other. It is hard being the first or only in the group to have kids, and equally hard to be the last or only to not be in a relationship.
Even with people we love and respect, there is no way to be friends without bringing our personal insecurities, fears and baggage to the relationship. To hold their pain without projecting our story into it.
There were definitely awkward moments. Moments where you want to judge, give advice, justify your decision that’s different than theirs, wallow in self-pity rather than giving a high-five.
But we’ve practiced. We’ve made commitments to be generous with each other. Honest. We trust the commitment is bigger than the pain. We trust the history is deeper than the present moment. And we’re still practicing.
We forge on. There will be lots of awkward moments we will witness and hold.
Frientimacy is Developed
We can only trust our future because we’ve experienced our history. It wasn’t instant.
It was due to consistency that we have fostered this.
A decade ago, we were mostly strangers to each other. And over time, with one leaving here and another joining there, we had a group that was consistent. We didn’t all necessarily feel like we would be friends with each individual in the group if it weren’t for the collective time, but we knew the value of going deeper with others so we kept coming.
What we celebrate now has taken effort. It has taken consistency. Far more than most people are willing to put in. Most of us think if we get together once a month with a new friend that a friendship will blossom. And I’d say once a month is enough to keep liking each other, but probably not enough to build enough history that when your lives change (and they will) that you have enough history behind you to stay connected through it. Once a week for one year gave us the gift we’ll enjoy the rest of our lives.
I no longer live around people so I’ve become part of another group of people who meet at different frequencies. We don’t have the same history yet, but we will keep meeting and keep sharing and we are definitely developing our own new Frientimacy.
Who are you being consistent with? How can you schedule in some consistent time with other women? How are you building upon the new friendships you’ve started?
Frientimacy is Worth it
You may not feel the potential after your first time together. Or your next time together.
You may doubt it. You may feel like they’re too different from you. Or that you’re not sure you like each of them.
You may feel insecure around one of them or find that one annoys you. It’s likely.
But you will also begin to know you have a group that sees your life. That knows it. That you don’t have to update but can simply share. You will feel the difference it makes to have close friends. Local friends. Not the kind you have to impress, but the kind you get to be real with. It’s likely.
I had an amazing weekend with the people who have known me and loved me for years of my student life. And I’m committed to building more of that in my life.
Frientimacy is authentic. It can be awkward. It takes time to develop. But it is so worth it.