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Mean girls : you were made to be free

mean girls

We women are an interesting lot. Nurturing and soft, tender and loving and yet can be so cutting and mean, exclusive, competitive and hurtful.

We’ve all been there.

Chances are, each of us have taken our turn in both roles: the mean girl and the one in the crosshairs.

Why?

What compels us to take an ounce of joy out of thrashing another woman. Cutting her down to her face, or behind her back it doesn’t matter, it’s just as vicious either way.

As a woman I have a difficult time understanding it, I can only imagine how confusing and annoying it is for our male counterpoints.

No matter our age, mean girls are a common thread in our lives.

Have you ever experienced the cold meanness of another woman? From a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend even? Her cold snub or jarring comment leaving you in bewilderment of what in the world just happened? Left you to simmer in the meaning of her harsh words or silent anger for days, or weeks….or months? Felt the chill from a group as one mean girl spreads her poison amongst them, slowly, but decisively edging you out.

I have. In fact, it’s been my life story. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining as much as I am just stating a fact.

Because just as brutal the rocky path of women relationships has been for me, I’ve been blessed with a multitude of very deep, meaningful, life-giving relationships with women all along the way. I think it’s the story God had for my life. The story He wanted me to know and the story He wanted me to tell.

From a very young age I’ve lived in the boundaries of extremes in female relationship. Punishingly mean, exclusive and hurtful…and unbelievably, incredibly rich, loving and full.

It’s an interesting paradox: to find security and love for myself, in this resting place between two extremes.

In the wake of a rift or bitter division, I’ve been left so many times wondering am I a bad person? A bad friend? Do some women hate me because of something I’m doing? Or is it just who I am they seem to hate? A compulsion beyond my actions.

I’ve discovered those are very difficult questions because of the richness on the other side of the equation. The depth and breadth of meaningful relationships, the ones not intimidated, competitive or insecure.

The ones where God is alive and present because He lives in each of us. The ones where intimate thoughts, hopes and dreams are shared in the space of safety, unconditional love, and positive regard.  Where I know that I am deeply and fully loved.

How do these two very distinct worlds coexist inside of, and around, me? I don’t know, but they do. And I bet they do in you, too.

I remember in the sixth grade I took my turn in the mean girls cruel game. The awful one where every single girl hated me. Not one was allowed to play with, or talk to me for an entire week. I would go to school, sit by myself, be by myself, walk the playground at recess by myself. Wonder, hide, cry…by myself.

It’s not a tragic story, it’s the human story. And more specifically, it’s the female story.

I’ve lived it long enough that it’s become a second skin. The layer under the more beautiful one of thriving and rich women relationships. Scratch the surface and it’s there: fear, shame, bitter and brokenness reside in that subdermal layer.

But slowly over the last twenty years, and the last few years more strikingly, the power that subdermal layer holds on me is waning. Shame no longer holds a grip or I wouldn’t be writing about it now. It’s not shameful to have a history of some difficult female relationships. It doesn’t define me as much as the process that has resulted because of them.

These critical friendships, the young immature ones of my youth and the conditional ones of my adulthood, have carved out a deeper well of compassion in me than ever could have existed without them.

They have made me stronger in myself.

This is not to point fingers at every girl who was ever mean to me or left me out of their group. It has to be deeper than that or I’ve learned nothing, and am no better for the trial. What I’m here to testify is: although it seems impossible, in the wake of rejection and cruelty I have come to know and like myself even more.

I am stronger. Taller. Braver.

My faith has been renewed in the life-giving relationships that exist around me, the promises of God, and the lessons He wants me to learn from the journey. It has made me appreciate the women of strength and love that pour into my spirit, who share this journey, who love my children and fight WITH me for my marriage, my children, my life, our friendship. They fight FOR me.

Beautiful women who champion growth, maturity, and depth of character. Who hold me accountable to a higher standard. Whose very life sharpens my own. A maturing process of becoming less focused on ourselves and more on how we can love others well, give generously of what we have, pass over judgment and give grace.

Because it’s all about grace.

If this post resonates with your story – a story that desires more from your relationships with women friends, you might want to check out my new book, Pretty: Breaking Free From The Illusions of a Superficial Life. It’s available on Amazon kindle, iTunes and Barnes & Noble nook.


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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • kim washko April 2, 2013, 3:13 pm

    So well said and appreciated!!

    • Tammy April 2, 2013, 10:34 pm

      i’m so glad to hear, kim!

  • P.j. April 2, 2013, 7:06 pm

    I can SO relate to what you have said here! Thank you for sharing this! I took notes! ♥

    • Tammy April 2, 2013, 10:36 pm

      you’re welcome p.j.! i’m sad you can relate, but i know it’s a very common story. at least we’re all in good company. 🙂

  • Kelli April 3, 2013, 5:45 am

    Tammy,
    Once again you hit the bullseye with me with your honesty, insight, and your ability to share the truth! Yes I can relate for I have been there still feel like I am! I know that it can tear you down or build you up. I have learned that there are so many beautiful healthy women and I am so blessed to know you. Thanks for the honest words…..I appreciate you xoxo

    • Tammy April 3, 2013, 2:33 pm

      and i appreciate you! keep moving forward, so much beauty lies ahead. i’m blessed to be part of the group of women who help you build. xoxo

  • Leah April 3, 2013, 3:26 pm

    Wow. You took my breath away. I know that I have been both the mean girl and the mark, and I know how it feels to wonder what it’s like to have true friends that will not turn their back on you the moment you falter in your life and really need them the most. Thank you for once again being so inspirational and beautiful. <3

    • Tammy April 3, 2013, 4:33 pm

      i’m so happy it spoke to you leah. as women, we truly are better together. praying for many more true friends in your life.

  • Jeannie Pallett April 3, 2013, 3:58 pm

    Tammy, thank you for addressing a matter that we really don’t want to talk about or even admit is present. Sometimes its hard to believe that the root of meanness in a girl friend is jealousy…she sees beyond our own insecurities and hers are highlighted…oh, what a weave we web at times when we choose to take our eyes off Jesus, Christ in us the hope of glory. I pray that as a friend I will look for only the glorious in you.

    • Tammy April 3, 2013, 4:32 pm

      “she sees beyond our own insecurities and hers are highlighted.” this rings so true jeannie. how easy it is to look into another woman’s life and see only the dazzling and fall so short in our minds. a web indeed. because once spun, it’s hard to back out. i pray for the same thing, i am sure your friends are very blessed by you.

  • Marion April 10, 2013, 1:11 am

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I have a beautiful twelve year old who has the same story from she was in elementary school. I am going to share this with her. She is struggling to not desire the approval of the very girls who are so destructively mean. It is a weekly journey full of prayer, trial and joy. I see glimpses of growth. I am hopeful and thankful that all of this will draw her nearer and deeper in her faith. Thank you.

    • Tammy April 10, 2013, 3:26 am

      you’re welcome marion. i will pray for her. a difficult journey for certain, but has carved a deeper well of love, compassion, empathy and faith. and some really great friendships too. tell her to hang in there! xoxo

  • Jade July 18, 2014, 3:38 pm

    I can totally relate to this!! I wrote it about my experiences briefly on a personal blog (link below) but now I am thinking I may expand and share the details after reading yours. Thanks so much!

    http://www.dipity.ca/2014/07/sugar-spice/

    • Tammy July 20, 2014, 5:14 am

      I just read your post and you’re so right Jade. I’ve been in your exact shoes. You might want to read my new book! Pretty: Breaking Free From The Illusions of a Superficial Life. It’s allllll about this very thing. xo

      • Jade July 21, 2014, 3:35 pm

        Yes, I was reading the description of it! Sounds like a great read 🙂

  • Sarah December 14, 2014, 3:54 am

    Love it! I deal with this at work on a daily basis…and also in ministry, unfortunately…jealousy…I have been the object of gossip my whole life.

  • Carol Mayne March 22, 2015, 5:13 pm

    I have moved my whole world from Texas to,Florida to be with my daughter and her family. I have always been included until now she has some friends who are having events and not including me it is so hurtful. Hoping this article will give me a strength to get through it! Wishing I had never moved !

    • Tammy March 26, 2015, 10:45 pm

      Praying He uses this experience to build something in you that couldn’t have happened without it. Let it fuel you to deeper compassion and love and acceptance of others. Praying for you Carol. xo

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