We need our girlfriends: Healing from painful friendships

There are certain realities in life that are inherently and undeniably female. Things like buying your first bra or realizing youʼre on your period but donʼt have any tampons. Though our culture seeks to blur these lines, certain experiences are only for girls. And it is good female friendships that keep us grounded as we weather the storms of life.

Easier said than done — for many of my heartbreaks in life have come from so-called sisters in Christ, who did more to take me off the path rather than help me along the journey. These wounds among women run deep and often lead us to have an isolation mentality. We no longer trust and depend on one another. Some may be afraid of being a burden, while others have scars from bridges burned and stabs in the back.

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Yet God has a funny way of not letting us write off relationships based on one or more bad experiences. Often, God puts us in situations that force us out of our comfort zone and require us to work with our brothers and sisters in Christ to find solutions and healing.

Wedding dress fiasco

I didnʼt realize I needed healing from friendship wounds until I got engaged and started wedding dress shopping. I, like many women, dreamed about my wedding day for as long as I can remember. Though the majority of my focus was on finding Prince Charming, the second detail I thought the most about was the dress.

Itʼs every womanʼs princess moment. Whether you’re a tomboy or girly girl, wearing a wedding dress is an emblematic moment of a womanʼs life. Yet, I wanted to pretend like it didnʼt matter. Years of horrible homecoming, prom and banquet dresses taught me to keep my expectations low. It didnʼt matter how much money I paid or what stores I went to — I never found a fancy dress that made me feel truly beautiful. Why would my wedding be any different?

I decided to go with a custom wedding dress because I wanted to support a local Catholic seamstress, who was known for making stunningly elegant, well-made and modest dresses. The seamstress also has a custom of asking the bride to bring a scapular from the groom, which she then sews onto the inside of the dress — swoon!

I began the process of commissioning the dress but soon realized I was completely lost. Though I had an idea in mind of what I liked, I didn’t know how to describe fabric, cuts, shapes and colors. With each fitting, I felt like I was getting further and further from what I wanted but felt helpless to do anything about it. I felt like Cinderella, pre-ball, minus the magical fairy godmother and friendly field mice.

Though many friends reached out, asking, pleading and assuring their help, Iʼd grown so accustomed to doing everything on my own and didnʼt feel like I could receive their help. Past friendships taught me that accepting assistance does more harm than good. I had an underlying belief that I couldnʼt really depend on my friends to come through for me.

We are not meant to be alone

Four months from the big day, I had no clear direction for the dress in sight and started to despair. After Mass one day, a friend noticed I was anxious and later called to check on me. I tried to hold it together and remain strong, but her persistence eventually cracked my tough girl walls.

In tears, I told her what was going on. I actually cared; I, like every girl, wanted to feel like a princess on my wedding day but didnʼt know how to make that happen. My friend listened, asked questions and then said, “Donʼt worry. Weʼll figure it out, and Iʼll come to your next appointment.ˮ

That next appointment turned into the next three. Initially, I felt paranoid about being needy. After several anxious apologies, my friend finally said, “You donʼt need to apologize. This is one of those moments in life where you need your girlfriends. You need my help, and Iʼm glad to be here.ˮ Through my hesitancy, confusion about fabrics, veils and everything in between, my friend stood beside me.

When the wedding finally came, that same friend was there to help me button up my wedding dress and bring my bridal bag to touch up my hair and makeup throughout the big day. In a time of vulnerability and need, when I couldnʼt go to my fiancé and I didnʼt have any family living close by, my sister in Christ stepped up to support me.

Scripture says it is not good for man to be alone. This isnʼt just for romantic relationships but for communities as well. I didnʼt want to admit it, yet reality had a funny way of helping me see: I needed my girlfriends by my side during my time as a bride-to-be. Grounding me in the truth that I was a beloved daughter, supported, worthy, known and seen, I walked confidently down the aisle toward the man of my dreams, feeling as beautiful as can be.

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