‘My daughter, who is always listening, said, ‘I bet she will say, ‘OH, NO! It’s fine!’ But deep down, she will be angry at you.’ That is what my 9-year-old daughter has already learned. From me.’

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“I worry a lot about what other people think about me.

I hate this about myself. I have tried to change it, but it’s still there.

I lie awake after parties and wonder if my joke was taken the wrong way. I can say the most insensitive things. Whose feelings did I hurt?

I desperately want to be who you need me to be. I am a people-pleaser, through and through. The first step is admitting, and I haven’t quite made it to step two.

I was recently talking with my husband about a situation where I would have to let a girlfriend down. I was nervous to cancel plans with her, but I had no other choice. I asked him if he thought she would be mad at me.

My daughter, who is always listening, said, ‘I bet she will say, ‘OH, NO! Please don’t worry about it! It’s fine!’— But deep down, she will be hurt and angry at you.’

This is what my 9-year-old daughter has already learned from life. From me.

She already has deduced this is the way women communicate with each other.

Presenting a fake front. A false narrative.

We lie because the truth is messy.

We are fake with each other because real feelings are too hard to deal with.

What am I teaching my daughter about women?

That we are too weak to handle disappointment?

That we have to fluff up the truth before we deliver it?

What am I teaching my daughter about relationships and friendships?

I have a small circle of forever friends. Girls who understand me and love me. Girls I know I could call for bail money, or to help hide the proverbial body. Girls I don’t feel the pressure to please. Girls who keep my secrets and know my flaws. Real, true friendships.

Only a handful of these relationships exist for me. Only a small tribe of people who I can be real with. Women who are brutally honest with each other. Women who I share my daily worries and my real-life mess with. We don’t fake perfection with each other, and we are all better for it.

These are the relationships I want my daughter to know about. Relationships that are real and messy and honest.

Daughter, let me tell you ‘bout my best friend! She is fun, encouraging and fiercely loyal.

AND she is also quick to fire off at the mouth, she is always late, and she has a temper that can make Naomi Campbell look like a delicate flower.

But, somehow I still love her. Like, deep in my heart, soulmate kind of love her.

She knows for a fact I am overly-dramatic. I say hurtful things. I am ridiculously forgetful, and I can be a selfish friend. But, I never doubt for a minute that she loves me like family. Crazy, Right?

We love each other because we really know each other. To be truly known is a desire that burns deep for all women. We ache for someone to know our heart, our dreams, our fears and our flaws. And to love us because of it, and in spite of it all.

If we believe that we are made in the image of a perfect God who knows we are messy and sinful and complicated yet still loves us unconditionally, then we have to believe that we were designed to search this Earth for some semblance of that kind of love.

I honestly believe the safety and beauty in being known and loved by a friend is one of God’s greatest gifts.

I apologized to my daughter for my actions that lead her to think that women had to hide.

That pleasing people should be a top priority.

That we couldn’t be vulnerable with one another.

I told her we don’t have to pretty up our words.

The truth is enough. The truth is all we have to give each other, and it shouldn’t be watered down or minimized or manipulated. When we make little lies in the name of protecting others, we are selling ourselves and the people around us short. This is not how women should treat other women, and this is not the way to be a friend.

So I told my daughter what I still often need to tell myself.

‘Be kind. Be honest. Be real.’

People who truly love you will love you through it all.

And the people who don’t love you— well, that’s really not your problem to worry about.”

Woman who tells her daughter to be real stands smiling beside friend beside railing that looks out to mountains

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hollifield of Momstrosity. It originally appeared on their blogSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more from Stephanie:

‘Are they ALL yours?’ My husband loves to whisper, ‘Not all of them are mine. My wife went through a wild phase.’

‘Nobody is having sex with their spouse every night. Except FREAKS. Nobody keeps the house clean all the time. Except FREAKS.’

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