What is The Sisterhood?
I’ve just come back from a gorgeous pilates retreat in the French Pyrenees, and am feeling suitably zen. A lot more zen than I thought I would, which goes to show that I’m better at switching off when I get the chance than I give myself credit for. The surroundings were stunning, the food was incredible and the pilates felt like a cherry on top of a delicious cake.
Best of all though, was getting to spend three entire days with a group of amazing women. Ladies who do not bitch about each other behind their backs. Or say inflammatory things to get a rise out of anyone else. This is what the sisterhood is all about.
These are solid rocks, whose lives are stressful, and kids are challenging. We’ve all bonded over the years through our shared hardships and love of good food. The thing I adore most about them, is rather than project negativity because of their cortisol levels, they are nothing but supportive.
They are always on hand for online group hugs. Some of these ladies I see regularly, some on average once a year. Others I had only met in person for the first time on this trip.
There are many articles to be found, bemoaning the sisterhood
Not without good reason either. Women are often accused of being bitchy and stabbing each other in the back. I think being bullied as a kid means I have a great radar for working out who acts this way, and avoiding them like the plague. It’s a skill I’ve developed over the years. Life is far too short to spend it getting angry over things not worthy of that emotion. I reserve it for when it’s truly necessary.
Perhaps due to my lack of family, I’ve always put a huge emphasis on my friendships. Having good friends in my life is as essential to me as breathing and eating. The sad fact is, many people simply don’t like strong women. So they get torn down. The saddest thing of all is this often happens by other women. Which leads to lots of lovely ladies, desperate for close friendships, just not bothering to pursue them. Hands up who honestly enjoys being made to feel like they’re back in the school playground? Not me, that’s for sure.
Most strong women tend to be this way through circumstance. Sometimes my own past sounds absolutely incredulous, especially when I dredge up the deepest darkest memories. I question myself – did those things really happen to me?
Leaving home at fifteen. Blagging my way into the city and brilliant jobs. Travelling the world. Recovering from rock bottom and becoming mentally stable. Going on to not just live an average life, but a pretty awesome one? Privileged and (hashtag!) blessed to have a wonderful husband, and three amazing kids.
Friends from all walks of life, dotted around the world. Deep connections made at poignant moments, which will last forever (even if distance means hardly seeing them in person). I even get to do my dream job. I don’t chase after the big bucks like some bloggers, but my job title is very much writer.
I’m asked a lot how I got from there to here. The answer is: by going against convention every step of the way. By sticking two fingers up at the haters. By simply not quitting.
Some people are offended by folks like me
I could have gone the other way as a teenager. If I hadn’t been exposed to or responded positively to the opportunities which created my lucky breaks. After a childhood like mine, I could have ended up beaten and broken by life. I might have known my so-called place, and not have had the audacity to venture from it.
I have rolled with the punches since I was a little girl. Exploited so many times, and in so many ways, I’ve blocked most of it out. When your past is as colourful as mine, it forces you to be tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When the dark clouds knock on my door these days, I’m ready for them. I put my fight face on. I ‘girl up’ as it were. I try my best to set good examples to my children.
I am never afraid to look inwards, and recognise when I’m at the root of a problem. When this happens I change what’s necessary. I put measures in place to stop small things spiralling out of control. I don’t bury my head in the hope they might magically improve. I grew up around adults who did this, and it didn’t get them very far.
The trouble is, strong women are easy to dislike
Perhaps it’s because we don’t dwell on our shortcomings, or wallow in our challenges. We share our successes, try to remain positive in the face of adversity. We can look like we’re in control, when others in similar situations do not. We might appear to have all the answers, even when we don’t. Merely by being our authentic selves, we tend to make others feel bad about their own situations.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, far from it. But I do know this: the world needs more strong women. Women who will volunteer for the messy work and stand up to the bullies who try and put them down. Ladies who’ll join forces and show others that it’s possible to have real solidarity. Without judgement or jealously or envy.
So let’s be strong, ladies. For ourselves, for our families, for the sisterhood. There is nothing more powerful than a group of strong women!