Last week, in the midst of a phone convo with a super-successful, beautiful and high-spirited friend of mine, I confessed to having fallen into a funk.
My candor acted as a key into an inner chamber where truth resided; in an instant, my friend dropped her upbeat demeanor and shared that she, too, had been depressed as of late.
The thing is, our lives are hardly mirror images, though we are both writers. In fact, we represent two distinct groups: I am a mother of three while my friend is single and childless.
And yet...and yet...we both found ourselves in this age and stage of life feeling sad, out of balance, wondering if it was yet possible to grab hold of our dreams.
Our conversation continued while I took the dogs out for a walk, texted two of my three kids, shopped at a local food market and cooked dinner. She chatted from her couch, where she ate salad. The distinctively different backgrounds of our conversation brought our dissimilar situations into starker relief.
She was responsible to no one and could focus on our call while I was a multi-tasking maniac. I had the family and all that comes with it; she was alone but free to pursue her personal and professional goals in an uncompromised way.
As the lack of family looms large for her and she originally viewed my life as belonging to someone who had the very thing she craved -- i.e. -- as someone who "had it all" -- she was astonished to hear the depths of my sadness.
She hadn't imagined that the very thing I lacked could cause me such pain.
We spoke for nearly two hours, examining how it was both personal choice and factors outside our control that shaped our lives' path. We shared a bracing moment of female rage against the unfair advantage that men had, their ability to grab what they want, whether it was a young wife when they reached middle aged, or an unimpeded path to their own professional success.
Women often are forced to make choices that men do not have to make.
My beautiful loving friend expressed sorrow for the mate and children she did not (yet) have. I mourned work that hadn't yet been published.
Sharing our separate sadness, we realized that we were hardly separated by our external differences.
What we shared was a sense of incompletion. Gazing at it together, it felt less like an abyss and more like an opportunity.
Organically, we began encouraging the other, offering insight and suggestions, analyzing the other's position. We helped each other contextualize the lives we had; we did not deny that the sadness was legitimate but sought a proactive response. We became each other's cheerleaders and project managers. We lifted each other up.
So it is with the best of female friendships.
In this realm, I am truly blessed and hope I have given as well as I have received.
On the day after Mother's Day, I salute the sisterhood that is the source of sustenance for those who hold the world aloft. On this day forward, I toast the power of candor and the bravery it takes to confess our failures to one another so that we might recover the key to our successful transcendence.