Open is not always easy.
In my younger years (i.e. five years ago LOL), it wasn’t one of my virtues. To be real, it wasn’t something I was in a rush to become. Open, in my view, meant being exposed, vulnerable, and under a microscope…nothing I was interested in being. It’s only been in the last four years that I have been on a pursuit of revealing my true self to those I love the most. I honestly believe that marriage and motherhood made this an urgent matter for me. I was suddenly thrown into a life where I was accountable to and responsible for others and I didn’t want there to be any roadblocks or secrets. However, it wasn’t my husband or daughter that taught me the importance of being open. It wasn’t even my parents…it was my relationships with my girlfriends.
I grew up in a house where I was always encouraged to be honest but being “open” wasn’t necessarily something we talked about. I truly believe that it wasn’t that my parents didn’t want us to share everything, they probably just assumed that we would and mostly, I did. There were and are some things that I still have yet to tell my parents and I’m currently preparing myself to talk to them about these things. There was a time in my life where I didn’t see this as a problem. "Who tells their parents everything?" I thought.
It was my lack of success in the dating department that caused me to take a look inward. Like other relationships in my life, I never felt compelled to completely unload on any of my boyfriends. I began to get frustrated by the fact that I kept getting into these very temporary, shallow dating situations. What was I doing wrong? How could I have such awesome, long lasting friendships with my girlfriends and not be able to transfer that over into my love life? It was after much self-inventory that I realized that throughout my late teens and early adulthood, my strongest, most intimate relationships were with my girls. Why? It was because we told each other EVERYTHING. We communicated…often. We commiserated and celebrated with each other. We accepted and loved each other unconditionally. They knew me through and through. I never thought twice about telling them anything because I knew there was no judgment. It was at that time, as Oprah says, I had an "ah ha" moment.
Looking back, I realize how blessed I have been because of my particular set of friends. God knew that it wasn’t going to be my mom, dad, grandmother, or even a boyfriend that could drive home the importance of openness, so He sent me my girls. I have two friends in particular that come to mind. One friend I’ve known since my mid-twenties and was someone who saw me through a peak period of my life. My career was popping and I was a singing and drinking sensation. She is a complete free spirit, life of the party type and we had a ball. Her exploits are legendary and I’m not quite sure that we were the best influences on each other at certain times. The other is someone who came into my life at a very low period. She’s been a grounding force and became as close to me as a sister in a very short time and ushered me through the girl-to-grown woman phase of my life.
What do these two women have in common, besides me? Not much. However, they both taught me to own my stuff: good, bad, otherwise. If you did it, be real about it, for better or for worse. I have been so inspired by their willingness to lay it all on the table and their unwavering realness. Looking back, I know that this is what kept us together and made these friendships and the love between us so strong and so deep. Because we are open with one another, we know where we are coming from and can have each other’s backs when needed. Nobody can tell us anything about each other that’s shocking because we hear it first straight from the source. We know what to expect from each other and how to keep each other accountable. We know what to pray about for each other. THIS is the way love works. THIS is the way God works.
The only way you get to be deeply involved in ANYTHING is to be real…