Making friends is hard. Keeping friends can be even harder. I didn’t put much though into it, or my own struggles, until the last few weeks. My daughter starts middle school next year. While she has had some tried and true friends, I don’t always hear her refer to them as best friends. She has had one bestie since her kindergarten days, and her parents are fantastic. Shout out to you guys – you know who you are and I’m so thankful for you. So thankful. Last month at Gabrielle’s orchestra concert I witnessed a monumental event in my daughter’s life.
Out of a crowd of jubilant juveniles, a young lady (who looked to be taller than my half-pint 5’2” build), walked straight up to my daughter. They stood face–to–face in the gymnasium. Without any hesitation, this fellow odd duckling simply said, “mah”. Gabrielle replied with the same “mah”. The warmth from their hug melted away my angst over G having her own tribe. Not only does G have her own tribe, but the tween-Queens like each other too.
There is something truly empowering about having your own tribe. The enabling freedom you get from having a random person get your situation, because they have lived through similar experiences.
Many moons ago I had a solid tribe. Memories of our elicit adventures still bring giggles and a smirk of days long past. We were not a quiet tribe. We were wild. Not wild in the way that you can’t share with some people. But, CERTAIN people don’t need to know all the details.
That, and I signed a form. Kinda. A marriage license. My ex-husband didn’t like anything about my tribe. He let me know it. His friends let me know it. His family let me know it. One the most asshole things you can do is ditch your friends for a man. No matter how nice he seems. But I ditched my tribe.
But after a drug dealing boyfriend with warrants out for his arrest, I thought I would be happier with a nerdy husband than with my tribe. Nope.
After my divorce, I found that my tribe had changed in my absence. This is a 100% on me.
You can only keep asking to spend time with someone so many times, and after a while; my friends gave up. I was ashamed. I had conflicted feelings about who I had become. I don’t regret much, but I regret leaving my tribe.
After my divorce, someone would always spend the weekend at my apartment with me. I was never alone. These are people who saw me at my most awkward, most crazy, and at the most broken point in my life. They are MY tribe. Rather than walk away, they held my hand. Tight. They still do.
Through every broken heart, bad haircut, and job change: I can call them at any time and they show up. They encourage my hobbies (even though they may change on a dime). They clapped when I went blonde. They were lovingly bossy when I kept canceling on first dates (that means they made me go). They texted me when people I love were no longer in my life. They bought me a stiff drink when my job got eliminated, and they admire each new tattoo I get.
We can go months without talking. Thanks to social media, we are never out of touch for too long. It does my heart good to know I have these people who tell me about sales on leggings, encourage me to go see music, eat the tacos, and buy more shoes.
I’m still working on building a bridge back to my tribe. It will take work, and I’m hopeful that we can re-connect as a new tribe. Some of my tribe members I’ve know my whole life: I love you Chicken!
There are new members who knew me from college and even junior high that have come back into my life. Some I’ve only known a few years: Hey Birthday bestie!
It makes me smile to know that Gabrielle has her own tribe. Maybe someday her tribe will call a bar late at night and order wings, send her music, or share lip gloss. Who knows if that will happen. But what I do know is that they will love her for just being her — and that isn’t anything to say “mah” about.