I’ve been thinking fondly of my friends in the super-duper private facebook group to which I belong that was originally organized around friends who loved nail polish. I am pretty sure that many of the friends were connected for various other reasons–I knew some members prior from old school message boards organized around cross stitch, and I think others knew one another even in person–but regardless, the group was initially formed, I think, to celebrate our love of nail polish and to trade pictures of manis and pedis, sharing information on products and techniques, oohing and aahing over all the pretty colors.
Even though that was kick-ass enough, the group evolved, and fairly quickly at that, into a group that discussed other pretty things: eyeshadow, lipstick, clothing, jewelry, things that most of us love, adornments that make us feel feminine and beautiful, confident and badass. Things that express our individuality, making our outsides the perfect representation of what we want the world to see, whether that’s a very accurate depiction of who we are at that moment or who we want to be when something makes us feel differently.
But the group’s evolution did not stop there. What gradually emerged were women seeing that this group was a safe place to talk about things that bothered them. Sure, occasionally someone will post a great story about how her daughter is starring in a play, pictures attached so we can see how much she resembles her mother, or a photo essay of sorts so that we can see how a single nail polish color has lasted through a poster’s entire vacation, the various backgrounds in the photos showing the range of places we drool over, vicariously connected to the vacationer. But more often we post when we are hurt, sad, worried, or distressed. We post because in that moment at home or at work or, even on vacation, we face something difficult. We face someone’s wrath. Or incompetence. Or backstabbing. Or ignorance. Or manipulation. The list goes on and on, quite unfortunately.
And in those moments, when we are feeling terribly alone even though we might have people standing right near us, we need support, the kind of support that only a group of like-minded women with an unconditional mindset can give. This group has evolved, quite astonishingly, to an amazing network of confident and tough women who have each others’ backs NO MATTER WHAT.
You know, when you are near those people who are in your family or in your workplace, and you need to vent, and you do, there is always that chance that knowing you, or knowing others, or the situation, that they may not fully take your side. You may think they have your back and come to realize that they do not. And certainly when you post your vent on a board with people across the miles who aren’t there and don’t know the whole story other than what you tell, they may not get the full picture.
But that’s precisely why it counts. In times of great distress, we need people who will unconditionally uplift us. There are times when I think to myself, living alone with my seven dwarfs, that I feel terribly alone. I never expected to be divorced. In retrospect, I’m glad it happened against my wishes. I am better off without him, without that life, without the lies. But the end result of that divorce, and of my having moved to a state where my family is not, having begun a career where my family is not that is so established it would be insane to leave it, is that, you guessed it, my family is not here. Most of our friends were mutual friends, almost all of which are out of my life (again, in retrospect, a good thing). So when things get tough, I feel the isolation ever more strongly.
It has taken a long time to build new friendships as a single woman. Couple that with the fact that I have met no one with whom I can form a romantic relationship in the last five years, and you get the picture. So I need people like the women in this group. Often they are the first people I think of when something goes awry. I need to feel like someone is there within seconds, minutes, or even just a few hours, someone who can say “You know what? You’re getting screwed. I have your back. Hugs.”
The fact that there are women out there willing to be this for one another is amazing to me. In fact, sometimes I feel guilty thinking that I don’t post enough good things or comment on enough good or bad things in relation to the times I ask for support. I try to be conscious of that, because the single woman with no kids has her challenges to face, but so, too, does the married woman with a couple of kids, a husband, and college bills for the first time. You will notice my guilt manifest when I suddenly post a bunch of times when I haven’t in awhile. It’s my way of saying “I’m sorry if I am hogging the page; I really do read even if I don’t post.”
The fact that I care to that level shows the effect this group has on me. The way it is a rock in my life. I suspect it matters that much to others, too. “I don’t know what I’d do without you guys” or “I’d end up in jail if it weren’t for this group” is said fairly frequently.
But back to the rock…well, there was a story I once read by Clive Barker, master of horror, called “In the Hills, the Cities”. I don’t own the book anymore (I believe that went with the divorce…), so to verify what I remember, I looked it up on wikipedia, which says that in it, the people “create massive communal creatures by binding together the bodies of their citizens. Almost forty thousand people walk as the body of a single giant as tall as a skyscraper.”
Well I can’t get this image out of my head today, as I thought about the women of our group, for I see these women as a communal creature when things go wrong for one of our members. The fact is that when one woman posts a problem, the rest of the women bind themselves together, forming one kick-ass warrior woman. I think every time, we bind ourselves together as we fall into place responding to the warrior in need of help–so our places in that larger creature change. But MissyAnn is always the head of this colossus. Of that I am sure.
It’s a creepy image in Barker’s short story, but it’s a positive and affirming image in the story I tell myself–at least for the warrior who asks for her sisters to support her. To the one or ones who have wronged her? Well, all I can say is that Barker can’t describe, genius as he is, the sheer carnage that group of strong-willed women would carry out against those who have wronged their warrior-sister. Never have I seen a group of women more intelligent, tough, and formidable, yet compassionate and empathetic, as this one.
And I count them, each and every one of these women, as silver linings in the dark clouds that sometimes swim around my head. They are individuals, yet together, they are a colossus. Together they form a united chorus of support and love and truly become one woman to rule them all in their sisterly solidarity.
Nail polish certainly has its place in this world, and this group could have just become what it might have set out to be, a group devoted to the love of pretty colors. But I am so grateful that it became ever so much more–a group of women devoted to one another. Nail polish may shine, but a colossus of beautiful warrior women simply sparkles, piercing the darkness, flooding it with light.