The other day I was reading at Fit Yoga Magazine and I read the Letter From The Editor, Rita Trieger, entitled The Company You Keep. She wrote: “As a younger woman I never really had a lot of girlfriends. A prepubescent, rather nasty snub from the sixth-grade female “in-crowd” had soured me on the trustworthiness of other women that lasted well into my third decade. And although I had one or two or three very fine “best” male friends along the way, I never could seem to cozy up to the idea of confiding in another woman, which, by the way, was fine with me. Then, a few years ago I started to form a friendship with a group of women at work. There were five of us in all, and we came from very different paths. That didn’t seem to matter though; and even as we scattered to other jobs, we regularly planned get-togethers and always had way too much fun (kind of like a more cerebral, creative Sex and the City, without the expensive shoes).
It was at this point I realized what I had been missing. All those years of shutting out female companionship had left a hole in my heart that was becoming joyously filled with female camaraderie, when, suddenly, my beautiful, womanly world collapsed. The details require a few hours and some good red wine, but the result was me with a broken heart and no best girlfriend[s]. Sixth-grade redux.
But lucky for me this time around, I had yoga to turn to, and I did. I stepped onto my mat as a pitiful victim and pouted my way through a few weeks worth of practice before I began to realize that I had choices in this whole scenario— and also responsibilities. Situations, both good and bad, don’t happen to you unless you let them. Slowly, I began to realize I had certainly had a part in the collapse and that I could choose to forgive them—and myself—and remember the lesson learned instead of harboring bitterness and blame.
That realization helped me make better choices about the company I keep, and today I am regularly astonished at the breadth of my female companions. They are each of them warm and loving and full of grace, and I adore them with all my heart.
As for my former friends…well, I’ll always be grateful. Because I do have some wonderful memories, and because what happened between us made me examine my own intentions and actions, and at long last allowed me to have the strong female companionship I always craved.
Love you girlfriends [You know who you are!],
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I really felt connected to the words she wrote, so I emailed her:
“Rita, I am writing as I just read your current Letter from the Editor at www.fityoga.com, on The Company You Keep. I admit it was my first time at your pages, and I enjoyed reading your words. I will return often. I am a long time yoga devotee and I publish Horizons Magazine, Spiritual Solutions for Florida since 1992 which is Florida’s body/mind/spirit publication. I really resonated with what you wrote, as I had the same scenario in my lifetime. I grew up with good looking brothers, so as I was growing up, the girls who wanted to befriend me had a hidden agenda. That lasted into adulthood as I worked for handsome attorneys in prominent Miami lawfirms. I’d of course get dropped as soon as their purpose had been accomplished. I’ve never had many close friends. I married five times and my mates often became my sole close friends and confidants; for 3 years at a time anyway. My daily yoga practice since 1970 has been about the only constant in my life.
After I left the lawfirms in 1992 at age 40 and began doing the magazine, I got involved with several womens’ groups and would attend many weekend gatherings each year. I quickly felt bonded to women in a real way and found an emotional balm I did not know I needed. I, too, thought of what I’d let myself miss all those years by being wary. Then I began to see the hidden agendas of some within those groups as well. The underlying politics and constant positioning for favor. The constant wanting, by some, to be noticed and promoted. I lost several serious friends during that time. Those I thought were serious friends of 10+ years.
I knew my part in the collapse, but I won’t pretend the emperor is clothed, even at the risk of a friendship. As you say, what happened between us made me examine my own intentions and actions and I, too, began making better choices about the company I keep. I now know some fabulous women and my schedule keeps me from getting too personally close with them. That’s a good balance for me right now.
Just last month another decade-long friend showed another face, which is why I was led to find your article. The words you spoke were simple but helped me feel closure. My daily yoga and meditation practice anchors me and keeps me emotionally full, and I’m learning to enjoy the sisterhood camaraderie a little better from a distance. For now anyway. Thank you and bless you for the work you do.
Andrea de Michaelis
She emailed back to thank me and said “It’s always nice to know that your feelings resonate with someone else and that someone you’ve never met can be so empathetic.” Her blog can be found at http://ritatude.blogspot.com/
She also let me know they are getting ready to re-launch Fit Yoga as “bookazine” and it will have more pages.
I’m very excited about that as well.
In case the FTC is wondering, I am not endorsing anyone.