One Saturday evening, my husband and I were headed out to a party for one of his friends. While rushing to get ready, we got into a big, ugly fight. Our worst yet.
Words were said. Tempers flared. We were both hurt and angry.
The sitter arrived and we walked out the door. Out of anger, we each got in our separate cars and drove away, neither knowing where the other was headed. He tried calling me to work it out, but we were unrelenting.
Like toddlers, we agreed he should go to the party alone. “Fine.” “Fine!”
There I was, dressed up on a Saturday night with nowhere to go. I couldn’t go home alone and explain myself, so I pulled into a parking lot, put the car in park and crumbled. I was devastated.
Tears streaming down my face, I reached for my phone to text a friend.
I started to text and immediately realized, she was probably with her boyfriend. I couldn’t spoil that with my marriage drama. Alright then, a married friend…
I started to text and thought, She’s been so busy and stressed. I haven’t even checked in on her. I can’t just show up with my mess now.
This went on a few times until my short list of best girlfriends was exhausted.
I was really sad and really lonely. I blamed myself for my loneliness, playing all kinds of stories in my mind about what a terrible friend I was, which only made my situation worse.
I felt stuck.
The truth is, any one of those friends would have dropped whatever they were doing to be there for me. In fact, when they read this, it will probably hurt them that I didn’t reach out. That’s what friends are for, right?
Not for me. I only want to be the supportive friend. The one who shows up with a smile and a laugh, instantly making everything better. I don’t want you to have to take care of me. I don’t want to admit I need anything.
But I do.
We all do. We are designed to live in relationship with others and that relationship is a two-way street. Let’s be clear for a minute. It’s not a 300-way, super highway, newsfeed friendship.
It’s real connection.
I experienced this firsthand over the summer.
Through a series of random events, I was asked by an acquaintance to join three women in a 20 day writing challenge. I immediately chuckled and replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not a writer” with a catch ya next time tone in my voice.
To which she responded, “Oh neither are we. That’s part of the deal. We’re committing to write just to get to know ourselves and each other better.”
I heard myself say, “Hmmm… Okay.” In my mind thinking, “Wait, who said that?!? I don’t have time for this!” It was like an out of body experience, watching that moment unfold.
What happened over the next 20 days rocked my world.
It helped me grow in more ways than I can even comprehend. That experience continues to unfold in my life, my family, my work, and my friendships. It was a commitment I wasn’t sure I’d be glad I made. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it, without them.
Want to know why it worked?
We showed up. Every. Single. Day. For 20 days. We intentionally created time and space for each other. Even on the days we didn’t do our writing, we showed up. Even on the night, I may or may not, have taken a sleeping aid a little prematurely, I still kind of showed up. It was hilarious. It was real life. It took us even deeper.
We opened up. Behind the screens of our devices, we had courage to crack open parts of ourselves we hadn’t thought about in years, if ever. I shared things I had purposely pushed down, some that had slipped away with the passing years, and some I was never courageous enough to face on my own. I cried like a baby and laughed until it hurt, remembering, writing, sharing the stories of my life and my heart. We named the things we wanted in our lives, no matter how outrageous they seemed. And we supported each other. We felt held.
We felt everything. For 20 days, we gave ourselves a permission slip to let it go. We cried when it hurt, instead of getting angry and trying to defend. We laughed at ourselves and each other. We felt the fear and shame that kept creeping in and we talked about it. We allowed ourselves to step outside of our fast paced lives to this little safe place, where it was okay to feel and be real.
Those acquaintances, I feel like I’ve known them my entire life. We thought it was just for 20 days, but now we’re in touch almost every day. There’s a history that wasn’t there before our 20 days. A history that couldn’t have grown if we’d tried to plan coffee dates and girl’s nights. An understanding that would have taken years to build in our newsfeed world of friendship, if it was possible at all. It was like friendship on steroids.
It’s no coincidence that I’m leading HeartStories. It’s not random that we just built an app to connect women. It was for me that I accepted that challenge.
But it was also for you.
It’s your turn.
As a result of that experience, we revised the app to include a quick daily prompt to spark more meaningful conversations. And we’ve launched a 20 day friendship challenge to recreate this experience for you on a smaller (easier) scale. Believe me, you don’t want to miss this. It’s worth it.
Start today. at www.friendshipchallenge.com
You can thank us later. 😉
Oh, and P.S. My husband and I worked out that fight. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s ours, we love it and we’re in it, together.