I was blessed to grow up in an extremely supportive community. I had a large family and though we had our internal family dynamics we practiced the habit of showing up for each other. We still do to this day. I could have a screaming match with my sister, which isn’t something unrealistic (lol) and we both show up the next day for a recital for my niece, sitting hand in hand, cheering, pretending the day before never existed. B and I practice the art of ignoring one another. After a recent arguement we went nearly 4 days of silently passing each other in the hallway. Then he woke up one morning saying he needed to go to the hospital and the silent treatment was expunged immediately. I’ve been hurt by people and have hurt them back but in true times of need I always knew we would be walking through the door for each other.
Hey, I never said the showing up was always healthy but the fact is I never questioned their presence. And sometimes in life the showing up is what we need most. We need the comfort of another person just sitting in the room with us as a reminder that we are not alone. As I battled post partum depression after my second child one of my sisters would often stop by after work, hold the baby, maybe cook something then leave. She is not a talker. So we didnt talk much in those days. I’m not sure she even really knew what to say to me. Most didn’t. Most didn’t know how to rationalize that I wasn’t being strong. This was a foreign concept for many; myself included. Most thought that I was just being distant. Again I’m not sure she knew either, but she would just show up. Quietly. And then go. Those moments saved me from dark holes I had crawled in while caring for two babies, alone most of the day. Her presecene was my lighthouse to signal a return to baseline.
So not only are my family and friends pretty great but I also was blessed to be raised in a close knit church family. When I say close knit I mean I saw these people far more than my extended family. We spent nearly 3 to 4 nights a week together and ALLLLLLL day Sunday. We slept over each other’s houses. We dated each other. We jumped into our parents cars without hesitancy. We spent birthdays together. We cried together. We clowned each other. We learned how to set a table formally together. We had fashion shows for one another. And I mean real fashion shows where companies would sponsor us with clothing just to parade around the church and show off the local Macy’s fashions. We were family. And many of us are til this day. We serve as godparents, confidants, and time capsules.
And with all that love and support your girl still found a way to sneak a lack of confidence into her spirit (another post). The way it materialized was making sure people that didnt want to hear me HEARD ME LOUD AND CLEAR. I would make it a point to “say it loud for the people in the back”. The people in the back being the ex-boyfriend that broke my heart (honestly we kind of broke each other’s), the people who you show up for time and time again and they flake the one time you need them, Janice my coworker who forever clocking people, you know, the haters!
(Let’s be honest I dont think I am at any place in life to have a bonafide hater but it sounded good right there.)
I became obsessed with proving myself to the people that had walked so far way from me that I needed to yell for their attention. And it didnt always look like anger. Often it looked like desperation. Back in middle school I wrote a FOUR PAGE LETTER to my ex practically begging him back. Let’s just say that ended HORRIBLY. And I know a special someone that reads my blogs that knows exactly who I am talking about and I beg you to please spare my readers the details FRIEND! Hahaha
I’ve learned the entire words to Hey in the Middle of the Barn to impress a boy. I’ve lost tons of weight to fit into an outfit to merely walk in a room, then gain it all back. I’ve excelled in parts of my practice to simply say I did. I’ve paid for COUNTLESS gifts to just prove a point. And yall have seen my blog posts ranting, today you dont have to search too far just see my last Facebook post. Ha! So let’s just say I’ve gone out of my way to make sure people KNOW who I am and how horrible they should feel losing my time.
But the fact is most often those people didnt even care to respond. Most often they didntlt hear my cry. Most often they are so far in the back that a megaphone wouldn’t even catch their attention. And the whole time while I was getting those work accolades, losing that weight, and writing those blogs the community I was ignoring were the ones cheering the loudest. But, I was too busy shouting to hear them.
I liken it to using a water hose. You know when you need to get that patch in the far right but dont want to walk across the grass so you press the handle as hard as you can, lift your arm, and focus keenly on that small patch of grass. If you pay attention, there is water still dripping in the “in between”. A light mist really. I was giving mist of love to the people that really loved and supported me all while the few got most of my attention.
My mother reads every post. Comments. Truly believes that one day my writing will change lives. Her support was always appreciated but I remember a time almost forgetting her relentless love in search of the people that I thought SHOULD be supporting me. I remember saying one day that a particular person in my life never commented, liked, or supported me online. Her response was, “well I like everything you write”. I thanked her. But, it wasn’t until months later that I understood what that really meant.
The person that unapologetically shows up time and time again without question. The person that takes the time to respond when you need them. The people that cheers with you even through tears. That’s the person that deserves your waterfall. Those are your people. That’s your tribe. And often you dont need to shout because they are standing so close you could whisper a thank you and they would hear it.
So today, on my 36th birthday, I dedicate this to my people. The people who have inspired me to write again despite my grammatical errors. The people that comment on almost every post to encourage me. The people that message me privately saying they felt heard today. The people that sit with me in diners and let me cry my darkest secrets out. The people that keep asking “when are you going to just write a book already”. The people that send cards in the mail to my children when you are just thinking of them. The people that have helped me pay for private school for my kids until I could afford it. The people that have sat with me in a studio apartment with just a blow up. The people that believed I could when I didnt. The people that watch my kids every single trip I take. The people that want nothing from me but my smile. My mom. My dad. My family. My tribe. Hear my whisper.
Always with love