I have this tribe of women. There are seven of us. We have this weird relationship that was born out of mid-life singledom and has grown into a sisterhood of sorts. We have nicknames, once upon a time all men we were involved with also had nicknames, it was kind of like high school but with more money, no curfew...and children. What started out as folly, has grown into a group of diverse women who all made the decision to start, form, grow and remain in this circle...until death do us part.
That is not to say that all of us haven't felt at times bored, sick of, disgusted by, let down, angered, hurt and betrayed by the group at large as well as by its individual members. However, despite our feelings to the contrary, we all remain. Occasionally, one of us will decide to leave but the group refuses to accept our exit. We are friends for life...period. I have learned so much from each one of these women: some lessons that I am grateful to have learned and others that I would have preferred to have missed. Regardless, I am blessed to be part of this tribe.
We communicate by a group text thread that contains our life in its most basic form: moment to moment living. This text thread contains the ups and the downs of each of our lives day to day. It is full of the words, memes and photos that express our sorrow, joy, despondency, glee, hilarity, tragedy, love and everything else in between.
It is through words (my favorite) that we support each other through the every day. Some days, I will look at my phone and there will be 178 text messages - I know immediately that it is an intense tribal day. Some days, I will look at my phone and see nothing and I am sure that they finally kicked me out. Nope, just a light tribal day.
Moving around a lot as a kid, I was not good with forming lasting relationships. Your best friend for life was really just until your family got transferred. It wasn't that we didn't try to stay in touch, it was just too hard and life too busy to maintain a relationship with a person who was now living half way around the globe. All we had was letters and the odd telephone call when your parents might decide to let you make an international or long distance call. It was just easier to find a new best friend.
Just because I suck at intimate female relationships doesn't mean that I don't want them, need them or crave them. I have always wanted and sometimes had a group of women that I have had a bond with...but this tribe is different. I didn't choose them, they chose me. We had no idea what we were forming or maybe even why we were forming...it just happened.
In retrospect, we all were going through stuff. We were all divorced and most of us had kids. We were trying to figure out what the hell we were doing dating in middle age while trying to support ourselves and/or raise children. Seems that we all ended up at this middle point in our lives and got a moment that seemed like adolescence again. In the beginning, we spoke of men, sex, dating, and girly things (hair, makeup, clothes, travel). We shared dick pics and laughed. There was even talk that we would create a coffee table book with all the dick pics we collectively received. Nicknames only, of course. Every man we went out with had a nickname that befit his position in our lives: Sandman, Batman, Chief, Motoman, Hollywood. It was fun and we spent a lot of time laughing and talking and dating.
But then things happened: children were hard, jobs were trying, ex-husbands challenging and we tentatively, at first, leaned on one another. What happened was pretty damn cool. We answered. All of us. We all came together and answered each other's call. One by one, each of us in our own way needed tribal support and in turn each of us gave whatever she had to give to whomever was in need.
Hearts were broken to bits. Children were sick and failing. There were hospital trips, sudden moves in residences, deaths, divorces, illness, job changes, career changes, medical crises, hell you name it and one of us had it happen. Sometimes one of us had a lot happen. Through it all, the rest of us were there. Silently and not so silently present for the life that was imploding. We helped pick up the pieces...every, single time.
What started out shallow, grew deep and meaningful. What started out as birthday celebrations turned into spiritual appointments with growth and change the focal point of our gatherings. One of us got married. One of us got engaged. One of us moved in with her boyfriend. One of us landed a dream guy. One of us gave the love of her life one more chance only to find out he just wasn't the guy. Two of us left the dating pool in order to explore some deeper waters. Through it all, we remain a sisterhood of women hell bent on making a go of this crazy life.
My ability to feel apart of this group and deserving of its comforts has been an issue for me. While I love them each collectively and individually, I still have a hard time reaching out. I always have. I have so much to give but am often stingy with my time, energy and life. I think that I have made standing outside the circle my life's work. I used to think that this was really problematic until I realized that it is from this vantage point that I see things, things that might be glossed over or missed entirely if I was comfortable in the fray.
So on this most terrible holiday of Valentine's Day, I want to send out some tribal love. I want each of these amazing, beautiful, intelligent, hilarious women to know that from the bottom of my scarred, jaded heart, that I love them. Each and every one of them for exactly who and what they are. Thank you my sisters for being representative of all the I lack and all that I am. Long live THE TRIBE!