Growing up, there was a story that floated around my family about my mother and her sisters. I always believed it to be fantasy with a smidgen of truth sprinkled throughout. It took me years to confirm with my mother, but she admitted that the story was very true. Thus, beginning my expectations of how women are supposed to support each other.
My mother has three older sisters and is the youngest of my maternal grandparent’s children. When my mother and aunts were young women, they decided they’d had enough of my grandfather cheating on my grandmother. They understood their mother was not leaving their father; she didn’t drive, only had a seventh-grade education and made money cleaning house for a wealthy white woman. They decided to take matters into their own hands. Armed with a knife, a lead pipe and a hammer, they confronted the woman who was sleeping with my grandfather. They never brandished their weapons, but the lady did go away.
I don’t condone violence and I think my mom and aunts were crazy for their actions, but I learned that when it came to family, the Williams women did not play. This became my fundamental lesson in women caring for other women. I knew that I only wanted to surround myself with women like those in my family. They will ride for you until the end and be there to help you pick up the pieces. Fortunately, I have found my tribe. When I was in a toxic relationship with no money to leave, I had a friend offer to pay my moving expenses. Another friend, who was raising her daughter alone, allowed me to crash in her home after leaving said relationship. I have cried in a colleague’s office, who was also a friend, when outside frustrations spilled over into the workplace. My sister has been my private cheerleader and safe space when laughter was necessary. I have women who care for me when I am too emotionally spent to care for myself.
This is who I strive to be for my friends. While still learning to be a better friend, I hope that I am succeeding at providing judgment free, loving space. I pray that my actions reflect those of the women who have helped me grow and that I can be an encouraging confidante that supports them through their efforts. Sometimes it is hard to be that person when you are amid your own crisis, but I always rely on a good laugh to help get my friends through those difficult moments. I think I am damn funny and that lets me know that I always have something to contribute to the friendships.
If I have learned anything in my 44 years of life it is that sisterhood is necessary. Not only because of the relationships I have seen between my mother and her siblings, but even the one I have with my own sister. I remember complaining about wanting a little brother, but my connection with my sister is precious and something I would never trade. We live in a world where being a black woman is hard and societal norms make it even harder. We need each other to lean on. I know I am not alone when I say my women friends are my refuge. Support is essential. I love to look around and see black women standing up for one another because as the adage goes, we all we got.
If you don’t have any good girlfriends, I suggest you stop reading this and go out and get you some. Watch your life change dramatically.
Born and raised in the same city as Timbaland and Pharrell Williams, Cousin of Nat Turner, residing in the Hollywood of the South, Tamara Joyner is currently working toward becoming a successful screenwriter. She likes long nights of binging Netflix shows and pedicures paid for by men with foot fetishes. She is a master storyteller and plans to publish her book “Black Girls Don’t Date” in December 2018.
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