the magic of girls

the magic of girls

The feeling of support that can only come from a woman who’s been there, felt the pain and found the way out—that’s magic. And you, with your flaws, your insecurities, your fears and whatever memories you carry with you from the past—you deserve the magic.

I clearly remember sitting, curled up on the leather sofa in my childhood home as my mom said over and over again, “girls can just be so cruel.” Our disgust for our own gender bonded us together the way Steel Magnolias or BOGO sales do for other mother-daughter couplings.

I was a painfully shy kid and never quite blossomed socially. I kept my handful of girlfriends close and avoided any large gatherings, paralyzed by the fear of being seen as the awkward, dork I really am. I kept my head down and my mouth closed, silently watching as my teenage peers bobbed through life, seemingly blissful, wrapped up in their American Eagle polos and Abercrombie perfume.

College wasn’t any different. The story was the same—a little more sex, drugs, and booze and a slow creep into husbands, mortgages, and kids. I became a wife, a business owner, a real-life, professional adult and nothing changed. I’d hide behind my glass of cheap Merlot at networking events, smile and nod, as I wallowed in my own insecurities.

These women don’t want to connect with me.

Look at her hair. Why the hell would a woman who knows how to blow out her hair like that talk to me?

Oh listen to her laugh. She’s so full of shit.

Don’t tell them anything. They’ll use it against you.

Women can just be so cruel.

I stuck with the boys, rolling my eyes through every baby shower, matrimonial celebration, and girls night—clinging to the belief that Coors in the garage was easier [read: safer­] on my heart than pink wine on the patio.

To be fair, women can be cruel though.

When I was 6 years old my cousin forced me into letting her stick gum in my hair just to see what would happen.  I cried as my mom coated my blonde curls in peanut butter, knowing I was bullied into this bubble-gum pink mess.

A girl who claimed to be a best friend in junior high took to AOL Instant Messenger with my classmates to tell me how pathetic they thought it was for me to miss a day of school after finding out my parents were getting divorced. Oh suck it up. It’s not that bad. She later cultivated a rumor that my friend Ashley and I were a romantic couple. We laugh about it often now, but in the moment it felt like the world was crashing around us. It was a teenage nightmare.

When I began attending bridal shows to market my bakery, a woman old enough to be my mother took to barraging me. She left false reviews, spread rumors and attacked my then-husband in his place of work, making false claims, lying, and being nasty all in the name of “protecting” her adult daughter who was a competitor of mine in our small town.

Girls can be so cruel, and women can be even more cruel.  And they’re the ones who should know better.

The real crime here is that I lived 28 years with that phrase from the leather couch, meant to be an empathetic embrace between mother and daughter, repeating in my head.

I don’t know how to talk like them.

I don’t know how to dress like them.

I don’t belong in a room with them.

I can’t get close to them. They’ll hurt me.

I can’t let them in. They’ll use it as ammunition.

Unexpectedly and very fortunately, there is a bright-side to this story.

In the fall, Rachel, Sara and I came together with a vision to support women. The details were fuzzy, but we knew we wanted women to feel loved, lifted up, and on-freaking-fire about the lives they have ahead of them. We were all deep in our own lives, going through our own junk, dealing with changes, growth, and heartache, but we knew we needed to create something.

I felt the familiar twinge from my youth, nudging me to close-up and keep them at a distance, but deep, beyond all the hurt and fear, I deeply desired what we had and what we were building.

Enkindle is the bright-side—the unexpected, but so embraced opportunity to see the women around me for who they are, and to love the crap out of them for the work they’ve done, the tribulations they’ve overcome, the mistakes they’ve made, and the dreams that keep them up at night.

Ironically, Rachel and I knew each other for years from working in the wedding industry together, but we were never close. It wasn’t until we showed each other our scars that we discovered just how valuable we could be in each other’s lives. Funny how we spend so much of our lives fighting to stay protected, but the real stuff begins when we throw off our armor and get in the mud. She introduced me to Sara, who became my business partner and a sister on the front-lines of living these real, authentic, lives before I ever met her in person.

I began living a life surrounded by girls. I didn’t have the trendy polos or generic perfumes like the cool girls in high school, but I had real, raw connection, and like the Grinch on Christmas, my heart grew three sizes. I’m sure of it.

My message to any girl who’s ever felt like she doesn’t belong is this:

Girls can be so cruel, but babe, girls can be incredible.

The gifts we have the power give one another can be so damn beautiful.

The feeling of support that can only come from a woman who’s been there, felt the pain and found the way out—that’s magic. And you, with your flaws, your insecurities, your fears and whatever memories you carry with you from the past—you deserve the magic.

Let them in and love them hard. It’s worth it.