Sara Stories: Lessons on Friendship and Unconditional Love

I've tried to write about my friend Sara for the last year, but each time I tried to find the words, I couldn't. I wasn't ready to share our friendship with the world yet.

Not like there were millions of people on my email list, or our friendship was something crazy or bizarre. It just felt sacred, something I wasn't ready to share yet. 

But now is the time, because the lessons Sara has taught me have changed my life. Which I don't think she'll ever fully understand, but I hope they can even slightly resonate with you the way they have with me. 

When I began my last relationship, Sara slid into my DMs and we automatically became friends. 

Sara is a therapist, but not a regular therapist. She's kind of a super human, life saving, strong as hell, brilliant, woman. 

As our friendship grew, I began to experience what female friendships truly were like. Until this point, I didn't have very many close close female friends where the love felt kind, unconditional and wholehearted. 

In a moment of panic one day while I was in NYC visiting my ex, I called her and started to cry. I stood outside of Whole Foods with tears running down my face and I don't remember my exact words, but I said something like "I'm afraid that if I fully open up with you, you'll feel like you have to shrink me, then it  won't be a friend thing, it'll be a business thing."  She paused, and told me that she promised she'd always be honest with me and that she would let me know if it ever felt like it was too much. 

It's a boundary I've learned to establish soon with clients and friends, because many of my clients become friends, and because my 'brand' is so tied into who I am as a person, I've learned to be a bit more careful as to what I share with who. Not because I'm some bitter woman who doesn't trust, but because I can be too open, with everyone.

Anyway, tears poured more quickly now. Because I believed her. I told her how thankful I was for that moment. 

Friend love is different than romantic love, and I think it's more pure sometimes. Do you feel that way too? Because in that moment I felt loved by Sara. Seen, heard, and valued—connected. 

Brene Brown says it's not in the large moments or actions from someone that we build trust, but it's in the very small moments. Like when someone says they'll call you back and they do. Or when they say they promise, and instead of you creating a story about if they're lying or not, you get vulnerable and say "okay".

I think I'll share Sara Stories every once and awhile, because there are too many for one post. But now that you know her, I'll share perhaps the greatest lesson she taught me. 

Ugh, I'm having a hard time starting, because I want you to know her like I know her and I don't want my words to create anything other than the light in which she is, to me. 

But I will write.

I went back and forth in my last relationship. Wanting to leave, but not quite yet being able to. What I knew to be true for me, was that I wasn't happy anymore, but for the first time I truly had fallen in love—so there was this part of me that felt like I couldn't let go no matter how hard I wanted to.

So Sara would listen. She wouldn't cut me off, she would just listen. She wouldn't tell me what to do, she would just listen. 

I would finish and almost always feel a vulnerability hangover rising up through my bones the moment I shut up. But her words were drenched in kindness each time she spoke. 

I would have moments where I was convinced I could stay in this relationship, that I was happier than before and things were 'good'. She would say 'great!', and ask about it without judgement. And from 500+ miles away, her words held me when I called her crying, absolutely heartbroken, saying "I'm done". 

Each time she'd say 'this is your process'. 

The first time she said it  I was feeling vulnerable and embarrassed at the fact that I was going back and forth so damn much. But she kept saying it  , reminding me that there is no wrong way to do my life. That I have to learn, go through, and make choices that sometimes make literally no sense at all. Like the time I didn't tell her I was getting on a bus to see my ex because I knew it  was dumb, but I did it anyway...'it's your process'. 

Hearing her words on repeat allowed me to stop comparing my experience to everyone else's. It allowed me to see myself and my choices more clearly in a way that I don't know I can describe yet either. 

I remember when my dad would see me going through a silly breakup in high school and get mad at me, wondering why I wasn't ending it  . He could obviously see it was a mess, but I couldn't. I would have to learn. It    was my process, and my process meant I had to go through it, no matter how bad my dad didn't want me to. 

Sara showed me what love looks like, while letting me learn. She didn't try to solve my problems, or fix me—she let me make my own choices. And listen, some of those choices were insane. Like superrrrr dumb. By no means did she always sit on the sideline either. But she never made me feel dumb for choosing what I did. 

This process allowed me to mess up, and keep messing up. With each messy choice I made, I hurt and I learned how to piece myself back together. 

Holy fucking shit is that hard to do. 

Breaking does that to you. You wind up with pieces all over the floor. Then you're left to pick them up and put yourself back together. 

Okay okay, I know, you're thinking— "how is this different than any other friend". Because she didn't force anything, and because she didn't, because she let me live my life and didn't judge me for my missteps, messy choices or anything else— I was able to learn not only how to go through hard things. But I was able to feel love.

Unconditional love can change your life. And I hate saying that, because it's like did I need them to love me, to see myself more clearly? I don't know, I don't think so. It's not her love that helped me arrive to a deeper sense of home, and love within my life and body. But it was the freeness of it  that offered me a a gentleness with inside of myself. 

That's all today. This Sara Story was about living your process, being a friend, and love. 

She taught me all of those things. Most of the time not even in words, but through her actions. 

May you one day have a Sara, too. May you feel unconditional love. And may you go through whatever process you need to in your life, messy as hell, or happy as can be—may you learn, and grow from it  . Picking up your pieces along the way. 

xo
Rachel