the number of girls I talk to about losing our boyfriends.
Although that number takes up less than a hand's worth of fingers, three somehow feels like thirty. Three hundred. Three THOUSAND. Counting doesn't seem to do them justice because numbers fail to quantify how much those three women mean to me.
Our four stories are not the same. One death was a tragic accident, another medical, and the other involved the same drug that took Blake's life. For a couple of us it's still fresh, the other two it's been a few years. There are also differences between how long we dated, the role we were allowed to play in the funeral, our continued relationship with their families, how we react to new men, and our general methods of coping with this unfathomably difficult situation.
But connecting with these women isn't about comparing who has it the worst or who is the strongest now. It's not about our disparities at all. What sets us apart melts away because we have this immediate and innate foundation of understanding. I feel like I can tell any one of these girls my scariest fears, most shameful thoughts, or wildest hopes. They may not feel the same things, but I know they would accept these confessions with a love that can only come from having "been there."
This is the power of knowing
you are not alone.
It makes me sad that we've been conditioned to mask ourselves in front of each other. We are taught that the truths about our lives that may not look as pretty splashed all over Facebook are worth hiding. Ignoring. Denying their existence. When in fact, these are the building blocks that shape who we are and create meaningful bridges between us and other people.
I may never have met these three courageous and inspiring women if it wasn't for us reaching out to each other. If in that moment we chose pride over vulnerability, we would've never known the power of each other's company. We might have spent months, years, our whole lives thinking we were alone, believing that no one could possibly understand what life is like for us.
I was contacted tonight by a girl in South Carolina who's boyfriend also died in May of a drug overdose. Although we have no mutual friends, she stumbled upon my blog and bravely shared her story with me.
As we messaged back and fourth, I was reminded that the world is such a confusing, but beautiful place. Somehow the ugliest experiences are the ones that provide the pathway to the most life changing connections. If we open ourselves up and risk judgement, we will be rewarded with the unparalleled gift of knowing that we're not alone.