The honor of friendship
Over the past almost two years I have had the privilege of experiencing the honor of friendship. I mean, I’ve always had wonderful friends, but over the last almost two years I haven’t had much to give. I have been numb, self-absorbed, whatever you want to call it. I needed it to be about me. Whenever we gathered I was aware that we talked and cried about me, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. As the first year morphed into the second year of grief I was amazed that my friends had literally put their lives on hold to pour themselves into mine. They were there to help me climb my way out of the dark hole of grief. They were there to listen when I was seriously overwhelmed and gently pushed me to do just one more day. They were there to listen when I was beyond angry, encouraging me to forgive, never once judging. At first they were here all the time…feeding my family, watching over my kids, or just being here so I wouldn’t be alone. Then as time has gone by they have let me learn my life all over again, given me the space I need. Growing into the role of single parenting, encouraging me in the new/weird journey of starting a new relationship, and becoming the sole manager of a household, praising my efforts from electrician to toilet repair.
I began understanding the true nature of friendship when I came to college. The relationships I made there I still have today. These women are like my sisters. What I also learned from these women was how to be a good friend. Which has led me down the path of meeting some pretty amazing women in my life. Did you know that research shows that “community” is part of the DNA of women? proof right there of why we need our girlfriends 🙂
Here’s a few findings that I thought were very interesting:
- Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
- Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don’t have the same, classic ‘fight or flight’ response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to ‘tend and befriend.’ We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
- More Stress – A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we’re with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
- Even more stress – Prairie voles, a monogamous rodent, have a similar response to stress. When a male vole is put in a stressful situation, he runs to his female partner. Female voles, when stressed, immediately run to the females they were raised with.
- Self-esteem – A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It’s no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.
- The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.
So this blog is to my amazing, wonderful girlfriends..those who have been in my life as far back as I can remember, and to those whom I’ve only known a short time, and those I’m just starting to get to know. Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement, thank you for the times when we can’t seem to stop laughing, thank you for the times when tears were all there was. Thank you for pushing me beyond myself. Thanks for all the sacrifices you have made for me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for being there even when I couldn’t be there for you.
Lets get together soon 🙂
“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.”
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