The F Word
Female friendship has never come easy to me.
Growing up, I watched both my mum and older sister have their hearts broken from toxic friendships, meriting strong warnings from our Granny not to trust girls or to share any secrets. Naturally, as the young teenager I was, I ignored this advice, and was seriously burned in the process.
Now I’m not going to sit here and act the complete victim. Stupid situations lead to a lot of bitchiness, but it was both given and received. So after a while, I made it easier on myself and simply ignored the existence of other women. On the off chance I did take anyone in, I would do so very selectively.. and then hold onto them for dear life.
In recent times, I would say my views have certainly shifted - what little career experience I have has literally been built on female support systems. But whilst I’ve got the female collaboration down, female friendship, I hate to say, still gives me the odd niggle. Don’t get me wrong, the female friends I have now are made of gold dust, but the scars from ghosts of girlfriends past are still very much there.
So when I picked up Lily Pebbles book, the F Word, I was slightly disappointed to learn that it was about female friendship, and not a guidebook on excessive swearing. In her opening chapters, Lily lovingly recollects her childhood memories of sleepovers and birthdays with friends she still has around her today. In fact, it seems most of her friendships are between 10-20 years old. So I hated her a little bit.
You’re a brilliant writer Lily! I just couldn’t relate. At first.
I’m currently on a mission to finish all the books I bought on an irresponsible splurge a few months back, so despite my lack of interest, I cracked on. And luckily, as I read a few more chapters, I started to see Lily’s friendships weren’t completely made of flowers and rainbows. From perfecting the balance of give and take, to undertaking a friendship ‘audit’ and knowing when to ‘break up’ with a friend, she really has seen it all. And I’m sorry for your pain Lily, but it made me feel a bit better.
I was really starting to relate to her, however this brought a tough exploration for me. Reading her stories made me reflect on my own and it wasn’t particularly pretty. However, as ‘Me Mammy’ always says, people come in and out of your life for a reason, and these reflections actually made me remember the good times I had with the ‘out-people’. Not enough to get back in touch, but enough to smile and send a little light their way.
Most importantly, I was able to reflect on the gals I have with me today. I am lucky enough to have incredible friends from work, uni life, secondary school and even primary school! Friendships I actually envied Lily for, despite having my own the whole time. So I’ve decided it’s time to let go and put the failed bffs behind me, focusing on the stars I have today. And now, with the help of Lily, I know the exact kind of F word I want to be for them.
Photo by I Am Sandrine - You can find her review of the F Word here.