When I was a teenager, I clearly remember the day when I stormed out of my friend’s house and stalked down the road, furious at her for admitting that she liked a boy that I liked, even though she knew that I liked him first. In hindsight, it seems silly that I lashed out at her, although I know it was partly to do with my own insecurities and feelings of inferiority. I forgave her that night after listening to Henry Ate’s song Just* on repeat and having a good cry. As the saying goes, “Boys come and go, but friends are forever”. She was my closest friend at the time, and although it seemed like a betrayal, her friendship meant more to me that the boy in question.
However, it wasn’t like that insecurity was misplaced or something we had never experienced before. We weren’t always good people to one another. In fact, girls who were my friends had kissed my boyfriends, had talked behind my back or had “taken away” boys that I liked. Yes, most women I know have been betrayed by a friend. Women have had their boyfriends pursued by other women, been the brunt of mean gossip or had their dirty laundry aired in public behind their backs. The 13-year-old character of Karl in Mark Behr’s book, Embrace, says it best: “…as much as we keep them covered, our private parts are more public than our faces. Our private parts are the most public parts of our bodies.”
No one deserves to be the victim of this kind of behaviour and yet everyone has fallen prey to it. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is when betrayal happens, because the consequences are the same; hurt, emotional distress, further insecurity, loss of confidence, inability to trust. Simply getting through the day can be tough. What completely baffles me is that, having undergone the same pain, women are willing to do it to someone else.
Do we not see that we are undermining one another, that we are letting competition and cruelty control our lives? How are we to expect a woman to lead a happy and fulfilled life, developing and growing in a safe environment, when everyone around her is contributing to her emotional erosion? There are hundreds of examples of women’s groups, or support groups, or solidarity movements which have changed the lives of whole villages or towns, or who have changed legislation, or changed the face of history. When women come together for a cause, the consequences can really change the world. Yet, we remain divided by “nature”, by this inexplicable propensity for gossip and betrayal.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When Jen asked what mark we can make on this world, it’s this: be a best friend. Because a best friend is supportive and understanding; a best friend can keep a secret, she doesn’t flirt with your boyfriend and she stands up for you when you are not there to stand up for yourself. She doesn’t look you up and down when you walk into a party, but lets you know how special you are by her actions. She is honest with you, even at a cost to herself and she forgives as easily as she can be forgiven. Now, times that by three and a half billion people and be a best friend to all women.
- In particular the lines:”No, if I could just understand this, I might then try forgiveness. Know that I will, each time I feel you’ll be by, you’ll be by, you’ll be by my side in the end, we’ll still be friends…”