I’m afraid of women.
Not my individual friends – I have dozens of amazing, trustworthy, inspiring girlfriends who I honestly feel are my spiritual sisters.
One-on-one, I love being with them.
But groups? Nope. Scary.
When I was in middle school, I was “mean girled.” I was the new kid at my junior high, having moved to Los Angeles with my mom so she could finish her degree after my folks divorced. I made friends pretty quickly, and was soon eating lunch with a clique of popular, smart girls, with whom I took honors english, typing, and history. Then one day, the fun turned sour:
I was a hungry, growing girl who ran around a lot, skate boarding, riding my bike, and walking to school every day. So I ate a big lunch. Two hot dogs. Every day.
This one girl started staring at me and my 2 hot dogs. She stared at me while I ate. I could feel her judgment and gaze, and I got more and more uncomfortable.
Then she started gossiping about me to the other girls. How I was a pig for eating so much. How gross it was. How they shouldn’t let me sit there. Not all the girls paid attention to her, but after a few days I didn’t sit with them anymore. I sat with other kids or by myself.
And I felt so nervous walking into our classes together. Because they stopped talking to me. They wouldn’t sit with me on the bus, or stand in line with me on our class trip to Disney Land.
It was horrible.
But I didn’t realize until recently how this incident led me to put up a wall between me and groups of females.
My 40th birthday is this week, and I decided that it’s time to put this old story to rest. So I invited 15 women to my house for a sister circle.
It was the first time I’d had a group of lady friends over to our new home, since we finally had the boxes unpacked and pictures hung.
And it was my first time hosting a sister circle. What’s a sister circle, you may well ask?
The idea started with my friend Nisha, who created SisterHoodDay.com – when I first saw her email about it, I flinched.
I wanted to spend more time with women, to create in-person communities and supportive live groups, as I’ve been doing for years in my online cleanses and programs. In those online coaching programs I lead women through 8-week transformational frameworks to help them feel + look well, and end the war with their bodies. I love my online groups, and the supportive community they create is astounding.
Yet, getting together in person with a group of women felt dangerous. But I craved the deeper connection that comes with in-person gatherings and support.
So I sent a few emails, vacuumed, made some scones, and took a deep breath. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was! I even got my nails done, in an effort to impress these women.
In fact, I put more effort into getting ready for this group than I did for my first date with my partner Bob. And the stakes were higher:
- would they all like each other?
- would they still like me?
- would I screw up the circle?
- how would I “run” a circle?!
- would they think I was a total dork for putting on this woo-woo women’s thing?
As each woman arrived, I greeted her with a hug, thanked her for getting up early and trudging to Brooklyn on a Saturday morning, and handed her a cup of tea or water.
As I watched all these beautiful, loving women meet each other, I realized I had been hiding from them, but I’d also kept them from each other – my own fear had gotten in the way of their possible friendships.
We gathered in my living room, circled up on the couch and floor pillows, and I shared why I had asked them to join me.
When I was through with my story, two other women immediately shared their own middle-school “mean girl” tales, and that THEY had also been afraid of women, made easier relationships with men, and felt disconnected from their bodies as a result of that early girlhood experience.
The tears flowed, more stories about body-shame, food trouble, and laughter about similarities bubbled up throughout the morning.
Finally, relaxed and bonded by the oxytocin which you could almost cut with a knife, I asked my friends to share their desires for the coming spring.
I believe that if we truly want our lives to match our inner fantasies, we have to speak our desires out loud, and ask the people in our lives to support us as we create them.
And they shared such beautiful desires and cravings:
- to get in the best shape of my life
- to find a partner
- to have great sex with my partner
- to be a YouTube star
- to recommit to my own healing path + end the fight with food
By the end of just two hours, we were sisters. Women who had never met before were hugging, sharing phone numbers and hooking up for later dates.
Everyone glowed as they left. Everyone thanked me for putting the circle together. And I felt incredibly humbled, safe, and supported.