When I lived in Italy in my early twenties there was a girl who socialized in the same circle as me. ‘Chiara’s’ energy was heavy and I had a very difficult time dealing with her personal attacks. Any chance she’d get she would put me down in front of others, laugh at my spoken Italian or try to damage my reputation in the community where I lived! Excluding me from a Women’s Day dinner she planned with mutual friends was the hardest and made me feel completely worthless. My kindness to her and efforts to fix the friendship were futile and this drama spanned three years until I came back to Toronto. 10 years later I was shocked to receive a letter from Chiara. I thought, ‘Oh God, what have I done now?!’ However, her unexpected words blew my mind. Asking for forgiveness she wrote, ‘I was jealous of you. I hated you without realizing that I actually hated myself.’ Chiara explained that she saw me as pretty and smart with a likeable personality – characteristics she couldn’t identify in herself but said she wished she had.
Filled with so much regret, I realized it must have taken a lot of courage for Chiara to put pen to paper and speak her truth. So, instead of writing I phoned her. Relieved to hear from me, she told me her common-law partner had been abusive for years – criticizing her weight, personality…and even her teeth! Now out of her life, she was healing herself. And this also meant an apology to me.
I’ve never been jealous of another woman and this is something my husband can attest to. This doesn’t come from self-esteem but from understanding that each incredible woman in my life has unique and special qualities – as do I. Their victories are my inspiration and I know that each one of us was put on this earth to contribute in our own way. The Me Too Movement makes me question where the ‘equality dilemma’ stems from in western society and my theory is simple – until women drop the facade and TRULY and HONESTLY support one another without bias, judgement or envy then we will never be equal. Chiara taught me that only when there is 100% respect within our own gender will we finally be empowered.