I met my best friend the day I was born.
She was a cute little one-year-old blonde baby named Courtney who I’m sure had lots of spunk. My dad and her dad were good buddies for a long time, so, naturally, me and my siblings got to spend a lot of time with Courtney and her siblings. All six of us caused a lot of trouble. It was the best.
Courtney and I were only a year apart and the closest in age and we just clicked. I was more reserved and quiet, while she…well…wasn’t. She had a lot of energy and much more to say than I did and I appreciated that. We complemented each other well, I think. Although, our parents might not agree because we were the best at causing the most ruckus.
By the time I was just about three years old, my mom and dad decided to split. Because I was the youngest of three, the divorce was probably the easiest on me—I don’t remember too much about it. All I know was that I got to play with Courtney even more as my mom became particularly close with her dad. It was evident that they had fallen for each other.
All six of us kids were at my mom’s house the day we found out we were going to become siblings. We were all summoned to sit on the long, chipped-up, old, blue bench that pressed up against the wall right by the front door—it was probably the only place we could all comfortably sit together. My mom and Courtney’s dad stood before us and told us the news. “We’re getting married!” “And we bought a house! Get in the car!”
I think it’s safe to say it was one of the greatest days of all of our lives. My best friend was going to become my sister. And we were going to live together? Holy sh*t. We all hopped in the car and sang the numbers of our new home address the whole two-mile drive there. We sprinted into the house and explored every crevice of the space as fast as humanly possible—popping into one room to the next and totally geeking out over what would become our home. But more importantly, what would become the space we could call home together.
Courtney and I shared a room. For the longest time, we slept in bunk beds. Every night, we would stay up later than we were supposed to and we chatted about anything and everything we had on our minds. We’d do our weird nightly rituals and while we were in the bed, she’d lower down one of her arms from the top bunk, offer her hand, and say, “paw.” And I’d lift my “paw” and lightly press it against hers. We loved each other deeply.
As we aged, life got more complicated (as it does). We made new friends, we became preoccupied with our separate social lives, and we were brainwashed by society’s expectations of women. Our sisterhood became dimmed by comparing and competing—as women and girls are taught to do—and as a result, mental health issues. Those teenage years were hard. We were both pretty caught up in sex, drugs, and alcohol, and making sure we always looked a certain way that wouldn’t make us stand out from the crowd or be bullied for not fitting in.
We still loved each other deeply and, obviously, continued to cause a ruckus (with quite a bit more repercussions), but our nightly rituals faded, our older siblings left and went to college, and we moved into our own separate rooms. There was division. And even though that’s life and that’s normal, there was more to this loss of connection that we experienced—and it wasn’t just the connection between us, but it was the connection to ourselves.
We were taught to be insecure—because we were girls living in a patriarchal society where beauty standards were f*cked and we were conditioned to compete against one another in hopes to discover a greater sense of enoughness and acceptance.
We lost our connection to our innocent, wild selves and because of that, our connection to each other lessened.
Of course, our connection never disappeared because luckily, our love was deeply rooted and we were able to mature past all the bullsh*t we were taught about how to be a woman in a patriarchal society. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for sisters (and women as a whole).
Sisterhood is sacred. And it breaks my heart when I see women—especially those who have a special bond—being torn apart due to unrealistic beliefs about needing to compete against one another in order to prove their own worth. And from an incredibly young age, we are conditioned to believe that there’s only room for one woman at the top. And I want to make it clear that I am not blaming men—of course not. I love men and truly believe they are just as divine and sacred as women.
However, I am blaming the system. It’s always the f*cking system.
The patriarchy is built to divide women. For a long time, the patriarchy thrived on the inequality between men and women—creating less space for women to be in a position of power. Immediately, this creates a mindset of lack and a need to compare and compete to be the “best.” These beliefs—that are literally built into the way our society was created—is detrimental because it creates so much insecurity when we constantly compare ourselves and believe we need to continuously prove ourselves in order to be worthy.
We lose ourselves. We lose sight of our naturally beautiful, wild selves who don’t ever need to prove worthiness—ever. And we often forget that when women stand in solidarity—when women cheer each other on and love each other wholeheartedly—we become more powerful.
To all the women and girls out there: I see you. I am rooting for you. I stand with you. And I love you. There is power in our solidarity. It’s time to stop tearing each other apart and recognize that we are all uniquely beautiful and we all have a spot at the top.
And Courtney, please know that nothing will ever stop me from offering my “paw” to you. I am on this wild ride with you—and I always will be.