The question, "what is sisterhood?" may in and of itself produce a wide range of emotions within you. All the way from longing to loathing. If you've ever felt the hurt caused by interpersonal disputes, betrayals, or losses within the feminine polarity (i.e, female to female connections), then you know firsthand how complex and complicated this topic can be. For the purposes of this article, "sisterhood" will be used as a loose, umbrella term that is not exclusive to biological sisterhood.
The practice of sharing, gathering, and connecting with other women is a primal, base need for the feminine polarity (female and female-identifying folks). Without a sense of connection and belonging to a safe network of trusted sisters, women may risk feeling depressed, dejected, unloved, or unsafe. To be estranged from a sister we once held near and dear is to essentially lose our footing, or our place, in the world. The lack of sisterly or womanly connection can cultivate a deep sense that "something's missing" in our otherwise full and satisfying lives.
Some of us have a void where sisterhood was once or where it never existed, dating back to our childhood environments. Many of us grew up without an actual biological sister (one possible origin of this void). Others of us did have biological or step sister(s), but couldn't create a healthy or secure bond with them for a variety of reasons (perhaps due to: jealousy, competitiveness, conflict in the home, stark personality differences, etc.). Regardless, we all long for sisterhood, even if we don't consciously feel the void. Life itself may sometimes feel dull or devoid of meaning when sisterhood isn't made a top priority, either by virtue of personal choice, geographical distance, emotional avoidance, intimacy fears, or lack of aligned connections altogether.
A woman's sense of belonging to a group is, in truth, a core survival need. We all have our own needs and our own unique means of meeting said needs. The unmet need for sisterhood may stir up feelings of helplessness or powerlessness, especially when feeling ousted or outcasted by members of our own kind (think: Mean Girls). To remedy this, some people succumb to employing learned survival skills and thereby go about getting their needs met in maladaptive ways (i.e., manipulation of their fellow women). This moves them further away from securing a close-knit community and compromises their initial goal of attracting and maintaining their female friendships or bonds. This pattern may persist until the core wounds are healed (e.g., abandonment or rejection wounds).
Upon healing and integrating our core wounds and fractures, we build a solid foundation of trust and security within ourselves. Simply put, we befriend ourselves. We become a person we would want to sit with in sacred circle or community. Doing the inner work allows us to become the very sisters we sought our whole lives. Instead of looking outside of ourselves, we come to realize WE are that elusive sister we longed for but had yet to meet.
Part of defining sacred sisterhood is in the act of becoming your own sister. Your own ride-or-die, ally, "best" friend, confidante, and ultimately, your own leader (no longer guilt-ridden, fear-driven, or codependent). Why be the co-star, or co-pilot, when you can be the star of your own show, or the pilot of your own journey? You didn't come to Earth to live someone else's life, or to blindly follow another's lead; you came here to be radically, unapologetically, and masterfully you.
When you begin to honor your truth above all else, the concepts of codependency, enmeshment, or people-pleasing will fall away. In their place, you get to cultivate empowerment, reinforce firm boundaries, and teach others how they can and cannot treat you and what you will and will not tolerate in relationships. This, my friends, is the foundation for sacred sisterhood.
Sisterhood relates to befriending your fellow "girls girl" in any way, shape or form. It can look like building a secure bond with your female neighbors, connecting with a local "mommy group," collaborating with colleagues who share your same purpose/mission, gathering with your actual biological sisters, step/half sisters, or sister-in-laws, creating an inner circle comprised of hand-selected sisters, and the list can go on and on.
Sacred Sisterhood relates to any select circle of women who are especially bonded in an open or closed group, and who mutually agree upon certain tenants, including but not limited to: trust and loyalty between members, unyielding commitment to doing the inner work, direct and honest communication, open-mindedness/non-judgmental attitudes, no-tolerance policies for gossip/slander of any kind, shared or complimentary purposes/missions, and freedom of expression without control or power dynamics.
The issue within many sisterhoods is that they unconsciously assume that their fellow sisters hold their same tenants, when in actuality, they hold opposing or conflicting ideals that cause their "tribe" to become corrupt or to collapse altogether, often in the most brutal or traumatic of ways.
Other times, the connection may simply lose its grasp as individuals go their own separate ways, perhaps overnight or unceremoniously. Ultimately, the end of sisterhood can stem from discordant values, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, priorities, preferences, lifestyle practices, needs, and/or wants. Also, we all vary in our capacities for conscious introspection, and in turn, may have differing capacities for compassionately holding space for another, at any given point. At times, we may need to prioritize ourselves, which others may take offense to as it conflicts with their needs (or the needs we formerly helped them meet). This essentially become a battle of "my needs" vs "your needs."
For example, let's say a high value of mine is freedom of expression without power dynamics. Therefore, if I feel my personal sovereignty or boundaries are being violated, I may feel engulfed or suffocated by an enmeshed form of sisterhood. Now, let's imagine a member of the group has an unhealed abandonment wound. My need for independence may threaten their need for containment. There in and of itself exists a power dynamic that is difficult to resolve if or when both parties aren't steadfast in looking at their core wounds, needs and value systems.
To be in sisterhood with those who lead with different core needs and values, there would need to be continuous work done, on both the individual and relational level. Each individual must take an honest inventory of the situation and ask: does this dynamic help more than it hurts or hurt more than it helps?
If it's the latter, it may be in the best interest of all to pause, terminate, or manage one's expectations within the relationship. The general rule of sisterhood should be to encourage one another's growth and progress, rather than their regression or stagnation. Sometimes, detaching with love helps to avoid adding salt to the wounds your dear sister wishes not to face yet. Sometimes, walking away from the people whom you unconsciously hurt or harm (by virtue of being authentically you) is better than remaining in a dynamic that hurts or harms you also (by virtue of suppressing your authentic modes of being). In other words, neither party is served by remaining in the clutches of codependency or struggling to keep up with the demands of the relationship.
A sisterhood is not a Sacred Sisterhood if you do not feel safe to be yourself, point blank. Any room that asks you to dim your light, so that others won't be triggered is a room you don't belong in. This likely stirs up the next wave of questioning: "if I don't belong in this group, then where do I belong?"
The notion of sisterhood is tricky when that core feminine fracture has yet to be discovered, healed, or integrated. We may even repeat cycles of attracting friends who will most likely betray or deceive us, thereby re-puncturing the earlier wound (i.e., trust) that was yet to be healed. Our biological predisposition is driven such that it seeks any means possible to avoid extinction, so to evolve its species. This is why we attract to us - like a moth to the flame - the exact person who holds the key to unlock those fragmented or disowned parts of us.
That experience is needed for us to heal the core wound, even if it means undergoing another traumatic betrayal, abandonment or rejection, all of which triggers up the wounds yet to be fully healed. We have to feel the wound (by being triggered) to know it's there, as it is often times deeply repressed or buried in the unconscious.
You can think of it this way: the friend(s) who condescended you, slept with your boyfriend, spread rumors about you, or otherwise violated the sanctity of sisterhood, is the same person providing you with the opportunity to heal the initial feminine-based fractures that made you accept their friendship in the first place.
Accepting them into your life also has to do with your innate, biological brilliance: to have a better chance of evolving, you had to align with the people who would trigger up the wounds that threatened your linage the most. This leads to a better chance of surviving and producing offspring who won't need to go through those same trials and tribulations, as sisterhood wounds are also intergenerational wounds! Even if one doesn't have a biological sister, they can still inherit this trauma or fracture through epigenetics (the passing down of trauma within a given ancestry).
This inner work spells the beginning of the end of trauma-based relationships, or trauma bonds, of any sort. In other words, those who have harmed you are actually helping you - albeit painfully - to walk away from the notion of "frenemy" towards the higher rankings of divine sisterhood. To align with this, we need to clear our own trauma, victim-scripts, and stories that relate to false-sisterhood. To taste the sweet nectar of sacred sisterhood, we must decide that the pain of not having it is worth facing the painful reasons as to why we don't yet have it.
Healing & Integrating the Feminine Fracture
If this article resonated with you, it may be helpful to reflect or journal on the following questions and complete the "completion exercise" at the end:
How do you define sisterhood? What does it look like, how do you talk/look/feel when you're with them, what wounds might even finally heal if/when you find them? (E.g., distrust of women)
What are your tenants for sisterhood? What do your boundaries and "no-tolerance policies" look like?
What happened in your past female friendships, family relationships, etc. that you have yet to resolve or release fully, in order to be a vibrational match to your ideal sisterhood/community?
What part of you is in resistance to connecting with other women; what does this part of you need in order to integrate with the other parts of you that do want this sense of connection, closeness, and community?
Who or what establishments (i.e., corporation, culture, etc.) might you need to forgive, fully, in order to move on for good? What would it take for you to forgive them (assuming you will never receive an apology)?
Have you forgiven yourself for your role in the relationship breakdown or for having initially allowed them into your life? Why or why not?
On a piece of paper, make a list of all your top resentments, grudges, or grievances with those people or establishments. What resentments do you need to release to finally move forward? What would it take for you to release this heavy load and create space for healthier connections in your life? If you need to make a laundry list of resentments, please do. In fact, I recommend it.
As you move through your list, decide which ones you are ready to cross off, then literally cross them off your list as you would a completed task on a to-do list. Safely burn, shred, or otherwise dispose of your list when you're ready to clear its remnants and residues. This will help create the space necessary to invite in your ideal sisterhood.
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