Girls’ nights. I have always loved hosting them. There is something so cool- and soulful- about having a group of friends over for dinner and good, long talks. My ladies’ nights used to entail alcohol of many varieties. First up was a specific cocktail (e.g. cosmos back in the Sex and the City days). Of course, if that wasn’t your style, alternatives were offered. Many beverages- whatever the concoction- were consumed. Then, it was wine with dinner. Again, multiple bottles downed. Finally, it was after-dinner drinks: a motley crew of port, Bailey’s, a random beer or two, and whatever wine was left. I almost feel guilty saying it now, but we, with our beverages of choice, had a blast.
I haven’t hosted a girls’ night since I started down this sober path. For one, I don’t know what it’s like to host an event that doesn’t include these elements: the welcoming, come-in-and-imbibe, cocktail hour…then the transition to wine selected specifically for the dishes served…finally the vino (or port, or Bailey’s…) chosen for, well, just continuing to drink- until people crashed at my place, were picked up by generous (and sometimes irritated) partners, or drove home (e.g. the preggo ones).
Second, I haven’t hosted a girls’ night because, unfortunately, I allowed myself to drift away from several of the close friendships I used to treasure. That’s the shady thing about problematic drinking: it encourages you to choose it over the people who were once the priority in your life. I’m just now starting to reconnect and mend those friendships.
I was reflecting today on how important and valuable women’s groups/circles/tribes are. I truly believe women need women (and guys need guys). There’s just something we give to/get from our sisters that is different from what we give to/get from men. Both are so important and valuable; we just need to make space for each of them in our lives.
I had the opportunity to learn about the power of women’s “tribes” when I lived in Austin, TX. After a series of almost miraculous events, I stumbled upon what was to be my yoga community and second home. In one of my regular classes, I met a woman who is a business coach, consultant and author. Her name is Renée Trudeau, and she is awesome. As a graduate student on a low budget, I was able to obtain a scholarship to one of her women’s retreats. At this event, she spoke about the importance of sisterhood and tribes. Here’s a sample (from her website) of the type of info she shared:
“What does sisterhood mean to me? It’s a way of being with other women—both young and old— where I:
- Hold the highest and best for them and see them as their “future selves”—especially when they’re going through a rough time
- Encourage vulnerability and authenticity in our relationship and communication (I’m a “get real or go home,” kind of woman!)
- Practice forgiveness (with myself) and have the humility and courage to initiate tough, but necessary conversations when appropriate
- Truly accept them exactly where they are right now and mean it when I say, “come as you are”
- Allow my sisters and myself to show up in our relationship “warts and all,” and fully exhale (unbuttoning the top button of my jeans helps here!)
- Derive joy and exhilaration from sharing my sisters’ wisdom/gifts with others and delight in seeing them shine big and bright
- State my needs AND ask them on a regular basis, “How can I support you?” and really mean it!
- Freely share my successes and don’t feel I need to shrink or dim my presence when I’m with them
- Enjoy reciprocity—giving and receiving in equal measure and serving my sisters in a way that “feeds me rather than drains me”
- Invite in a level of intimacy—with a chosen few—that allows me to share the deepest parts of myself
- Am willing to lovingly acknowledge what’s not being said or seen—even at the cost of having someone not like me
- See their innate worthiness and remind them that ‘their ordinary self is enough’.”
I want to be that kind of friend and have that kind of friend. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes to experience both. For those in recovery, I know we can shed the dark layers that prevent us from offering this soul-level support to others (As the Chinese proverb promises, “When sleeping women wake, mountains move”- and we have definitely been in hibernation). As for my former and current friends- and soul sisters I’ve yet to meet- I vow to do my very best to be a great tribe member.
Who’ll have me?