It used to be the phone call, via your landline, whose ring you’d rush to answer knowing it’s your bff on the other end (if you splurged for Caller ID), otherwise you didn’t know who was calling, and if you’re anything like me, you’d let it ring. I’m not a phone talker. I can do without. So with the emergence of texting, my anti-phone-call heart sang a beautiful song of anticipation and joy. The text is perfect for me. I’m a writer. I can write. I can speak too oh yes, but I’m not always in the face of my audience during these frantically busy times. I’d rather insert prose mixed with bitmoji and a little emoticon too, to cook up the perfect textual connection feast!

I understand sometimes you just need to hear someone’s voice- texting and reading is not equal to the sound of someone’s voice. I get that. But sometimes you also can delve deeper into a meaningful connection via text with or without the added layers of emoticons, memes, and giffs. Texting one person is one thing. Basic. But being in a group chat? That’s next level. And, being in the same group chat with the same girlfriends/cousins, for over 9 plus years? Well, that’s just an epic friend/familial history being created in real time. And I’m the lucky one to be smack in the middle of it.

I don’t exactly remember how our long lasting group chat started, but I faintly remember Andy Cohen and the REAL HOUSEWIVES as the original casting call for first myself and 2 other OG group chat members! Andy Cohen brought us together. Thanks Andy. I hope to one day thank you in person! I’m talking back in 2011, maybe even before. We’ve been through Teresa and Jackie’s falling out, and Vicki Gunvalson’s and Tamra Judge’s first marriages, and back again to hot tempered Teresa’s table flipping moment that will forever be etched in our minds; all of us mortified but also envious wishing we too could sometimes just flip a darn table and move on! I’ve often dreamed Andy Cohen would one day stumble upon our group chat threads, and be compelled to fly here to meet each dynamic member who I swear to to our Good Lord, could carry her own REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise easily, on her back, with the hottest of reviews. Trust me. I know it.

In our group chats, I find over time, people assume different roles. Roles based on temperament and personalities. You have your fiesty, fiery member thus expressive, explosive texts. You have your peacemaker, quieter, member, and hence your simple, calming texts. You have your hypochondriacs and thus your WebMd and Dr. Google information overload texts. You have your young mama whose life revolves around her kids as do her pics and texts! You have your call it like it is texter who has no time for sugar coating; so interact according to your own risk. You have your happy, sunny, optimistic texter whose job it is to remind us all to count our many blessings in the middle of the vent session. You have your ‘I’ll just read more rather than text’ member who inserts texts only when necessary. Like when we are about to send out the national guard looking for her. You have your long distance member who feels like she’s right here with us, through her texts- we are tethered to her and she to us. More often than not, we all double up on these roles, or take on more than 2-3 according to the need of our most valued members.

Our group chat, like I hope yours, is our lifeline throughout the different places each of us are in this thing called life. It helps us navigate it. It anchors us, when we feel lost or disheartened. It makes us laugh, wonder, mad sometimes, happy, reflective, sad, joyous, hopeful and all of that, sometimes in one single chat exchange. Most importantly, it always connects us. During nights, when my “menopausy” prevents me from sleeping and has my mind racing, it allows me to enter it at 3AM taking a chance someone is there. It usually looks like, “Wynkoon?? I can’t sleep!” Wynkoon is my primitive attempt to spell the Lebanese phrase for ‘Where are you all? ‘Sometimes I get a : ‘Here- I can’t either, are you okay?’ Sometimes I get crickets, until the next morning when I’m sure to get, ‘Hey- what happened are you okay?’

This immediate check in, connection, to me, is a form of self care. It is caring for our own emotional needs via a thread of real live communication that really exemplifies relationships, friendships, bonding and loving all through texting. It’s support, female empowerment, and a helpline for all things in our lives, and pure love in the form of just words back and forth.

Honestly, it’s a history in the making. A history of 7 different women, all in different places, careers, situations in life all coming together in a back and forth which nurtures, helps, mystifies, solidifies, encourages bonding with friends, cousins, and loved ones. I got them. They got me. Always. Whether we follow or break the fake but necessary Group Chat Rules we attempt to recreate time and time again, or not! After awhile, no rules needed: we have figured out each other’s texting styles, patterns and needs. Enter and exit according to your abilities and needs. Add or delete. But bottomline, is it is there for whomever is in need at the moment.

Group chats with your best girl/guy friends/cousins, is your, in your hand, mobile therapist, coach, mentor, friend, cheerleader, confidante, all in one. It is mobile laughs, tears, joy, pain, and everything in between. It is emotions and connections and information 24/7. It is a lifeline holding us together so we don’t fall apart.

In this day and age for gurlslikeyou, it is a luxury and a necessity. So from the OG Vicki Gunvalson and Don’s good old days, to now Vicki only being a friend visitor on the show, without an orange of her own, to our own kids in their teenage years to our group’s young women killing their careers like nobody’s business, we are all here. WE are all here. For all of us. That’s why we check in, text back and read. For Us and ultimately for those entrusted in our care. So let us have this moment. Let us check our phone. Let us get lost in the joke, in the drama, in the moment. Let us heal each other. Let us make each other howl in laughter. Let us. So we can then face every facet of our lives a little stronger, and happier and connected too. Literally, we are each others’ life savers. During, illness, pain, grieving and loss, to milestones achieved, celebrations and monumental occasions, we are all here. So, text on girls. Find your group. Find your lifeline. Be one for her. Gurls like you- We are worth it.

Mona xo