Where my girls at?

Lately I have been thinking about the power of girlfriends. Every now and again I meet a woman who says I don’t really get on with other women. Now I can’t speak for all of such women but those I have met in my experience may have been hurt before and are so guarded and suspicious with other women as a result.

One particular lady talked about how women don’t seem to like her. She put it all down to jealousy. However while she was with me, she kept making these snide and seemingly innocuous but very degrading comments and I could immediately see that the issue was not so much that people didn’t like her, it was more so that she really didn’t like herself. When she related to men, she simply resorted to sex kitten style and the interaction was always somewhat flirtatious even when she planned on keeping the relationship platonic.
This particular woman right now floats through life on the arm of her man du jour and I think she is missing out on the most important aspect of it.

When you hear the word relationship, you always think man and woman. However I am talking about friendships.

By nature, I am a loner. Actually, I don’t think I was born that way, I think I became that way as a defense mechanism. I learnt early on that people in general and girls specifically can and will hurt you. I used to take it so personally. Every little thing and I would be offended. I went to a girl’s boarding school, a hotbed for drama. There was always one confrontation or the other. I remember one school year; I think it was my third, where it seemed like every weekend someone was confronting me about something or the other. “I heard you said this, I heard you did that”. Now I clearly had to take ownership for some of the issues, I did the typical things I gossiped, I made judgments, sometimes went out of my way to make fun of the weaker girls, sometimes just to fit in with the wrong crowd. Also I had my fair share of wrong done to me, baseless rumors started, being accused of things I didn’t do, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Life goes on and as it does. We learn. Thank God for growth.

When I first got out of boarding school, I was extremely guarded. I didn’t gravitate to men, because I didn’t desire a relationship as of then. So I kept to myself. I never let people in and I didn’t really give of myself.

I remember my first Nigerian roommate in college. She is like my sister now. We fought so much then, even though we were alone in a foreign space. I mean we had our shares of up and downs and I don’t even remember much of what and how we argued about things but I do remember that she was an “I love you” sort of person and a hugger. Neither of which I was. I could never respond. I was cold. Still am, to a certain degree (But God has changed me so much and I’m still changing) I was so determined not to be hurt that I nearly missed out on a great relationship…almost twenty years later and we still are close.

There was a time when I had been going through some stuff and at first I couldn’t share my problems with anyone. I was so burdened that it impacted my work, my physical self, I couldn’t even lift up my head. I was praying, I was fasting but I was still down. One day, I felt in my spirit that I should share my problems with a woman who I knew but at that point our relationship was still somewhat superficial. I was afraid. What if she takes my problems and uses them for gossip? What if she hurts me? The word in me was insistent. Share the load.
You know they say your husband should be your best friend, sure, perhaps, but the truth is men are wired differently so as you are there venting, the response you get may not be quite what you need. They want to fix and you just want to be heard, at that moment I knew I needed a sister!

I called this woman and shared with her. She was such a blessing to me and since then I feel lighter. She

helped me lay my burdens down.
In my country, it is not uncommon to see women carrying loads on their heads. Every now and then you will see a woman who wants to take her load down from her head onto the ground. Sometimes the load is light enough that she can maneuver it herself, sometimes it is so heavy that she struggles, then you will see another woman help her carry it off her head on to the ground. That is what the woman did for me. She helped me lay it at Jesus feet.

Another time, I was so stressed, (in this life, stresses will come) I couldn’t speak. Again another woman who I knew casually…like I said, I didn’t really let people in….she asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t speak but tears started to flow, and God bless my friend, she didn’t probe further, she just started to pray. I couldn’t pray for myself but she did it for me and I could feel her love and I was and am grateful for it.

One of my favorite scenes is from the movie Beloved. The main character Sethe was being oppressed by the spirit of her daughter who she had killed (you have to read the book, to really get the gist) anyway, she was oppressed to the point that she couldn’t fight for herself. Now the women in the town had heard what was happening and they decided that enough was enough and that they were going to fight for their fellow woman. So they gathered at her home and began to sing songs and stand in solidarity. Now a few things happened but the point is that it was the collective power of the women gathered that forced Beloved, the oppressive spirit to leave Sethe.

I wept at this scene, because it symbolizes a truth I know deep within. There is power when women gather. We are the soul of the home, the pillars of the community. If you see a community with strong morals then know it is the women who propagate it. We are more powerful than we understand and our strength is magnified when we love each other. When we recognize that we are all flawed yet we are all beautiful.
A friend of mine and I were discussing how women have been trained to compete against each other, we are constantly comparing and setting ourselves up against the other. Wives compare whose relationship is better with their husband, instead of being a source of strength to each other, recognizing that trying times come to every marriage. Nigerian and Lifetime movies are fraught with the images of women trying to steal a man from another woman, at whatever cost…I could go on and on. Suffice to say, there is power in love. There is power in girlfriends. We are meant to have relationships.

Today, take the time to nurture a friendship and if you already have good friends, say thank you and give a shout out like me…”Where my girls at?! Holla!!!”

Ekene Onu is a writer living in Atlanta or Abuja depending on when you get her. She is the author of the Nigerian chicklit book called The Mrs Club and she is currently working on an inspirational book due out very soon. She also blogs about life, love and faith at www.lifelovefaith.com.

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27 Comments on Where my girls at?
  • Max August 26, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    This article must have been written with me in mind. I was just pondering the lack of girlfriends in my life and I was just reflecting on how to change that aspect of my life even though like you I’m a very guarded person and I don’t trust people.

  • chayoma August 27, 2009 at 12:04 am

    First of all,
    Might i say, it is an honor to read this.
    This was definitely for me :)

  • Zenna August 27, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I like having guy friends, its usually no problem but with ladies am very careful women can be plenty things bitter, backbitters etc but upon all these i love my girlfriends the most. good friends actually know how and when to support you(they are few). their issues my guy friends cant relate to and guy friends will hardly call you to pray

  • BiggestBossThusFar August 27, 2009 at 2:05 am

    I feel this… Women say women are catty but REALLY? We let these stereotypes get in the way and therefore cannot appreciate the beauty in our fellow women.
    When we realize the power we have, a lot of issues we complain about (even about men), will change.

    Beautiful write-up!

  • africhika August 27, 2009 at 2:47 am

    no, no, actually this was for ME! i love Beloved. great essay.

  • KK August 27, 2009 at 3:49 am

    only trust if you have no secrets.
    remember, a secret is that which is only known by one.

  • MiaJadore August 27, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Good one! I am one of those lucky to still have very close friends from high school, college and work. Good girlfriends are indispensable, they make the world a fun and happier place to live in.

  • uguysramazn August 27, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I am one person with girlfriends n i must say,they all come in different packages,the one u call to talk about real isues,the ones who just wanna say hi n bye,the one u pray with,the one u can relate with,friends come in different packages i must say n yeah its easier to relate to them than the dude..much love to them dudes tho!

  • brownsugah August 27, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t trust anyone period. I go into any relationship with a 100% and always get hurt. I like having friends but i also hate the fact that i can’t trust any of them. I am trying to learn but i have been stabbed in the back so many times that i don’t want to risk feeling that again. i’d rather tell a stranger my secrets than someone i know or that knows the same people i know.

  • Toyo Si August 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

    Thanks for the post. Yay to the power of sisterhood!!!

    Ekene should pls write more ;)

  • isitjustme August 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Beautiful write up…like “uguysramazn” said, I have a plethora of girlfriends that add flavor to my life. However, I must confess that the older I’ve become and with marriage, the number of my girlfriends have steadily decreased. I’ve kept them to a minimum few bcos my priorities and values in life have changed. Besides, I can’t keep up with all of them like I used to. Every woman needs a few, solid girlfriends that can pray with them, stand with them and motivate them to be their best. That’s what I have now and I’m ever grateful to God for my “3 musketeers.”

  • niyi August 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you so much Ekene, not just for the write up, but for putting the movie Beloved into perspective for me. I have been going through life wondering what the essence of the movie was, and refusing to accept that the theme of “evil spirit” dwells in America.

  • cococj August 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Tears as i read this, i can so relate to you, am not alone. thnx

  • Nneka August 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I’m all for the girl power, sister power thingy but here’s some truth some of you should be aware of before you go off spilling your histories to some girlfriend….
    ….Most girlfriends have other best friends we are not too fond of in one area or the other. So if you are thinking your stuff isn’t getting spilled during their alone time, you are freeeeaakkkyyy kidding yourself. The point is NOT that your ‘besto’ is gossiping abt you. The point is she knows it’s shit you don’t wanna share with anyone but her and the other bestos in your life.
    I have 4 best friends at the moment, 5 that are extremely precious to me. But not one of them can brag about knowing everything about me. If you put all the ‘me’ knowledge the 4/5 of them have together, you have figured 95% of me out. Funny thing is 2 of the 4 have never met or spoken the other 2. The 5th one knows all 4 to various extent and is like the freelancing piece in my besto puzzle. Go figure.

    I’ll be keeping my 5% to myself. Somethings are just not worth sharing with any soul. That’s the best ‘secret keeping’ advice you can get. It’s not like I don’t trust my Precious 5. The point is that I trust myself enough to keep it within. Get it? ;)

  • Bea August 31, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I’m all for girlfriends. In as much as i’m a social butterfly and i know a gazillion people, i have very few female friends. Two actually. I call them my sisters. We go thru everything together and have no secrets. I confess that it hasnt been easy, but we’ve worked hard at the relationship.

    Nothing like a sisterhood.

  • Tokunbo September 1, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Friendhip with fellow sisters have not worked for me really, your best friend is another person’s best friend so you see there is no point confiding in somebody that will spill it the very next minute to another best friend. I agree that relationships are potent currency, I’ve learnt to confide in my Maker, He alone understand my deepest needs, my hurts and my aspirations.

  • ameriewest September 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    i can’t trust any one of my friends…no point even trying…women are just prone to envy, its one of our natural flaws… the only girl i thought was different..i just realised is even worse..just recently i noticed that she frowns when am happy and rejoices when am sad…now what sort of friend is THAT?

  • Afribabe September 20, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Its a NO No 4 me…me n girls dont get along kuz ol they like 2 do is gossip bout other peep or even their close friendz…i have 2 close friendz in my life n i thank god 4 them kuz when 1 of us is sad we try makin each other feel better…both of them are moe than a thousand friend

  • GamGam September 20, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I almost thought i was the one who wrote this piece. I have more meaningful male friends, and i am totally ok. Sometimes we need to just grow up, life is not a shoping spree or jamboree.

  • Debo Ade November 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I totally agree with you. Am from a family of 4 girls and even my sisters don’t know everything about me. Then I have to very close friends from way back who also do not know half as much about me. Plus a friend at work. All in all, girlfriends are the best one can have. I have more guy friends but when it comes to some thingys, girls just really need their friends. Life is all about risks. You just watch what you tell them at all times. And like you said, you still gatta keep some to yourself

  • raindrops November 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    i don’t think the point of the piece by ekene is for us to share all with anyone or to all go out and forcefully acquire girlfriends. one of the points is that girlfriends have their value and love should rule.

    my experience has been a good one with my two besties. we are not always in our faces and will never intrude, but we share and laugh and pray together.

    thank God for them. they are one of my thanksgiving points in this lifetime.

  • Alero December 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Girls,girls,girls…well what’s my take on ds?I am from a family of 3 guys.In all my 20 something years on planet earth,I ve realised that girlfriends are not really 2 b trusted 100%.When u tell dm ur secrets,its so mind blowing that they feel they would xplode if they dont share it wit some1.While I was a student in d Uni.,I had a couple of friends but it was always 1 issue or d other ,envy, being the bane of d issues.I decided 2 stay off 4 a while.My Mom encouraged me 2 have friends as no 1 came around to visit me after my grad and while waiting 4 my NYSC.Wen I got to Port Harcourt 4 my service,I met some good looking chap n we hit it immediately.I also met ds gurl dat I tried 2 b friendly wit since I realised dat I couldnt continue 2 b a loner.To my greatest surprise,”My gurlfriend” was trying to flirt with my man.@ 1st I was suspicious,and my suspicions were proved right.The guy complained that while we were giving my friend a ride 2 her house one hot Saturday afternoon,he noticed she was staring @him thru d rear view mirror n each time their eyes met,she gave him a sexy wink & smiled. wat a g’friend.Apart from that,she was so curious about him,wanting 2 know where he worked,how we met,if I spend d night @ his place,etc.My resolve?To ensure that there is never an avenue 4 any meeting whatsoever btw any of my so called g’friends and my man.QED!
    Trust me ,it has worked marvelously well!

  • PET December 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Alero, i think we’re on the same chapter, probably different pages. In my case, girlfriends have been burdens all thru school, in secondary school they were always borrowing my things and gossiping about how my parents spoilt me with gifts (was it my fault that i had a little extra?), in university they all simply dumped their burdens on me, which i gladly bore, however, when i had the simplest of issues, they were never there to listen let alone help, i ended up feeling so used and decided to make do with being my own friend!

    Growing up, i had been taught to find answers from within and thats what i do till date. I know its good to have a support group (same sex friends) but if the right ones arent forth coming, life goes on.

    My best friend in Uni is this wonderful guy, with him i have a ‘verbal intimacy’, one that allows us discuss many issues, making it easy to sustain our friendship even when he had a crush on me. He’s married now and im friends with his wife too. I understand there are boundaries and i respect them.

    so in summary if you can, have trust worthy girlfriends. if its not happening, live you life and love the ones who are around (male or female).

  • babalwa January 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Nice one Ekene. Well i suppose most of us sisters have at some point or the other experienced ‘toxic’ friendships. The biggest lesson though is to recognise such friendships and walk away from them. I must say though that i am blessed to have the kind of friends that i have. You know what, I have come to a realisation that old friendships ( friends that you’ve grown up with or you have known since you were little)are the always the ones that remain rather that friendships started in your older years.

  • Laface January 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Am a Lil curious here: If all the ladies here are commenting on how gossipy(hope such words exists?) and envious and bla bal sheep there female friends are, does it not mean that we ourselves are natural gosips et al? Cos, if i complain i dnt like my female frnds cos they are too mouthy and you also complain too abt the same issue-female friends, then who are these ‘bad-betrayed us-in-the-past’ gossips/galfrnds? Go figure.. It is still Us!
    If you are a lady here and have’nt gossiped or run down another female cum bestfriend, hands in the air. I dont seem to be seeing any hands or is there?
    The way 4wad is for ya’all to stop complaining on how bad ur galfrnds are and try to focus on improving Gurl-Gurl relationships by keeping ur mouths shut most of the times and respecting the confidence ur galfrnds placed in u by sharing their life issues with u….Moi inclusive!

    It cant be that hard, innit? Afterall, our so called male-bestfrnds are doing it…
    For those who have great female best frnds..I envy you! Wld trade that for anything…

  • bussie December 20, 2012 at 12:21 am

    too true.. this article is very relate-able… and sometimes, i’m told ‘secrets’ that i feel i would just burst if i didn’t share..but i knew sharing was wrong. I try to avoid sharing my deepest thots and feelings with anyone bcos of the fear they will use it against me someday…but then, pple seem to find it easy to share with me ‘cos i’m a listener and not a talker… God is in control jare :)

  • Shaloma May 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I can totally relate to the writer… I pray that i’ll be as good to my frenz,as I wud want them be to me… Really good article…

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