How do we find our tribe - a word that has become popular in recent years, and one I'm hesitant to use yet find frustratingly fitting in this circumstance - our people, our circle, our...friends? It's no secret my friends are like family to me. These women I CHOOSE to do life with. The sensational six - yes, I literally just came up with that on the fly, but I think I maybe love it a little so we're gonna go with it (for this post anyway) and see if it sticks - myself and five girls (I typed ladies but even at 40 I struggle to say we are anything other than girls) I have known...MY ENTIRE LIFE. Yes, there are more friends in my life...and many I am so thankful to be walking through life with...but at this point, and for the past several years consistently now, these are the people who have done. life. with. me. The good. The bad. The mundane. We wade through the deep and we celebrate the victories - together. Period.
Here's the thing. What we do is intentional. It's a lot of time spent emailing and texting about when and where and how we will make time for brunch or happy hour because each one of us has stuff going on and while we may get frustrated when a month goes by and we haven't been able to find time to meet up, we still stick it out and make finding time a priority. And on the rare occasion that all six of us can make it, we celebrate a little extra because most of the time it's only four or five of us and since that's better than nothing we totally take it and cherish the handful of hours we're given.
Four of us got together last Sunday for brunch and spent the better part of three hours eating and drinking and laughing mostly. We cram as much as we can into whatever time we get, trying to shove the important stories into the conversation while really only covering the highlights. We now understand the value of being "in the middle" - someone is always in the middle...the person who needs the rest of us the most at that moment. The idea that when one of us is hurting, or struggling, the rest of us surround her and give her the time and support needed to work through whatever it is that's messy and painful. We've each been there for one reason or another, and while none of us likes being there, we now know it's with that support that we get through the shit storms life throws at us. This past Sunday was no different. We ate, we drank (God love Trey and his ability to keep our glasses of champagne and vodka coming), we laughed and, ultimately, we shed a few tears. See, even in this sacred circle comes the inability to fully hide shame and guilt. We each fight our own set of demons, and while we try so hard to keep them at bay, they are powerful and come at us with heavy fists in our moments of weakness. Oddly, these are the things we are each most reluctant to share. Again...shame, guilt...they know no boundaries even amongst the closest of friends. So, it sometimes take months, or years even, to fully disclose some of life's most painful sorrows - even though we try desperately to reassure each other that we are safe there, past judgments (perhaps cast most greatly upon ourselves) hinder us from fully opening up due to the walls of protection we build and the lack of trust we now carry after years of disappointment and let down. So we find ourselves hesitant to openly share some of our greatest pains in the moments we feel most raw, waiting, instead, to give the cliffs notes version somewhere down the road when the wounds aren't quite so fresh and we are better prepared to handle the advice we may not be ready to hear when in the thick of the situation.
Anyway, as we were leaving we joked about this parking garage we parked in - it has a rather prominent statue at its entrance that we use to describe said garage - and I found myself thinking about how we found not only the garage, but way more important, each other...and then found myself praying M would look back at 40, surrounded by girls she knows won't leave her no matter how tough it gets, and know she has one of life's greatest gifts. Yes, life took all of us in various directions for many years. Hell, the sixth one of us just moved home making me finally feel complete. For many years we weren't really in touch, but somehow, before life really kicked each of us square in the ass, we found our way "home". And because I refuse to think of "home" as a physical place, but rather a feeling of reassurance and comfort - it's something I find when I'm with these girls - I can't help but associate them with that. I believe God gives us the people we need when we need them...to be His arms, His hands, His voice...and He has clearly known I needed these girls the past eight years. So maybe that's the answer to the how...maybe it's Him. How else can I explain how each of us ended up back here at the same time? Although, if I let myself really dwell on that, I get worked up thinking about what might be coming next but I know I can't live like that. Maybe it's time we get to really celebrate. Maybe that's it. Maybe this time it isn't about who is in the middle for protection and safety, but to be celebrated. It's worth a shot anyway.
So maybe it doesn't matter how we find each other. Maybe that isn't the important part. Maybe the why isn't all that important either. Maybe all that matters is the fact we DO find each other in time to be there for the moments that count. Maybe that's all that really matters. If so, then we sure got lucky. Now if we could only get over the shame and guilt so we can stop feeling alone in the really awful moments, but that may be asking a bit much.
Find your "garage"...your tribe...the ones who hold your secrets and push you when you think you don't have anything left...the ones who hold you accountable but do so gently when needed...the ones who know how to make you laugh til you cry...and the ones who know when to just hold your hand and let you feel whatever it is you need to feel without judgment or reserve. Those are your people. Find them. Cherish them.