Women, what wonderful, complex creatures we are. I am fascinated by us, so fascinated that my debut novel – The Fire Fox and the Harvest Moon – is, at its very core, about women and their lives, loves, and, perhaps most importantly, friendships. Whilst I wouldn’t say that the book is autobiographical, as with many debut novels I drew extensively from my own personal experience to write it.
With female friendships (as well as romantic relationships) we are fed false expectations by the media, and led to believe that they are a perfect combination of sleep overs, parties, and clothes swapping – all giggles and smiles and fun, fun, fun! But what if your experience of female friendship doesn’t match up in reality? What if for you the idea of BFF is more like BS? If you as a person are anything less than perfect (ie every single bloody one of us) then the chances are your friendships are going to be a little more complicated than the pyjama party trope.
I have friendships that have endured twenty years, which is more than double the length of time I have been in a relationship with my husband. If I was to tell you that was twenty years of hearts and flowers I would be lying, but my best friends now are the same people that were my best friends at just seventeen (and I have had the joy of finding a few more on the way) and for that I am truly grateful. There have been times when life has gotten in the way, tears have been shed, and I have wondered if the friendship was lost forever, but the old adage ‘if you love someone set them free’ has never been more appropriate because we always found our way back to one another.
The problem is life is not perfect, and nor are we. Things happen, sometimes catastrophic things, and it is easy to get lost, to forget who we are, to lose sight of what is really important. Occasionally, we come to the sad realisation that we have to let a friendship go because it is toxic, and anyone who has experienced that will know that it is as painful as any break up. Truly heartbreaking. Sometimes, however, you just need a little time and space for reflection. Maybe then you will come to the realisation that you screwed up, maybe she will, but one thing I have learned is it is never too late to reach out and say I’m sorry.
All good things in life take effort. You can’t make a thriving garden from a bunch of cut flowers, you have to plant seeds and nurture them. It takes time, patience, love, and care, and a shovel full of shit might be just what it needs for it to bloom. Life can be really tough but there is little more valuable and rewarding than having good friends to laugh with you, cry with you, raise you up to achieve your dreams, and keep your feet firmly on the ground. Here’s to strong women in all their perfectly imperfect glory, ‘may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.’