Definition of tribe:
A unit of sociopolitical organization consisting of a number of families, clans, or other groups who share a common ancestry and culture and among whom leadership is typically neither formalized nor permanent.
I have heard the term “new tribe” many times throughout the past few weeks. Can I vehemently confess that I much prefer finding my new tribe over finding that freaking over rated new normal?
When Devastation Day happens, most family and friends will scurry to your rescue earnestly promising to help you through the nightmare. I recall saying to someone in those early days: how will I ever survive and live in a world without Amy? The response I received was “no worries, I will help you through.” Liar, liar pants on fire … as my kids used to say.
Based on my experience, people see what they want to see. They view my distraction as my progress; my devastation as my disinterest; my inability to engage as rejection; and my absence as my willful intention. It’s not about you! Is that concept so fucking hard to grasp? Losing Amy has changed everything. Even my ability to support you in your life when you are absent in mine. Even my ability to accept invitations which under normal circumstances I would never miss. Especially my ability to function well in most situations. It takes courage to enter your world now.
Initially, I felt betrayed, hurt and abandoned by the family and friends who are unwilling to support me and who have gotten lost in the Bermuda Triangle. 21 months later, I realize they “can’t.” They lack depth, strength and compassion and there is little you can do about their reaction to the loss of your precious loved one other than to let them go. After all, I did not choose this detour in my life into the lonely valley of despair and it is their right to reject me now that I have changed. Rejection is personal and damn them it hurts so it takes time to be able move on from those who have amplified my pain.
Yesterday after having dinner with one of my favorite tribe members, I had an aha moment. The time has come for me to proclaim a hallelujah to my family and friends who have offered me unwavering support. Yes, I needed to stop grieving all of the secondary losses of broken friendships and absentee family members and look up to take inventory of who has not been hiding out until the coast is clear.
After careful consideration and frustration, I realized I had to leave my job where I had worked for almost 29 years. Since I am not old enough to receive social security and officially retire, this was a drastic decision. Without a doubt my friends at my job enabled me to return to work after Devastation Day. Just knowing they were in the same building comforted me and it was difficult to leave them. One day I realized they were part of the heart of my new tribe and leaving my job would not mean losing them in the way I have been abandoned by others.
Enter my newest tribal members — those brave, kind, compassionate and broken ones who are also carrying this invisible wound and living in their own forever changed world yet are still able to offer support to a fellow griever. My new set of heroes who have traveled before or after me with the same broken mind, body and spirit. I have met many wonderful new friends via this raw blog and I hope they will stay in touch when I wind down my blog at the end of the summer as I keep reminding everyone I plan to do.
For 21 months I have been frustrated. It truly is a feel good, get over yourself, shallow world, or is it? Not totally would be my new and improved answer. I can almost hear Amy’s wise beyond her years voice reminding me “Mom, there is no big surprise who is missing from your new tribe.”
21 months of living as a bereaved parent absolutely has introduced me to many amazing people as well as shining a spotlight on some of the beautiful tribe, unbeknownst to me, which I was already part of prior to Devastation Day.
If I have learned anything during these past 21 months of hell, people will come into your life and people will leave your life. After 21 months I realize how grateful I am for my new tribe who have been supporting me through this hell but more importantly are always, always remembering Amy.