Find your tribe, love them hard

The idea of soul mates seems to come up quite frequently in my life whether it’s quotes about it on social media or Chris and I are talking about it. In today’s culture, it’s this strange idea that you are made for only person in the universe and you better get looking.

Neither of us seem to buy into the “one perfect person” ideology, but we, or at least I, can’t nail down a definition. I was thinking about the connections I’ve made with people, and I can’t seem to get on board with the fact that your soul mate has to be a romantic love or the person you marry or spend your life with, if marriage isn’t your thing.

I’ve been lucky enough to cultivate the most beautiful friendships with some of the most incredible people over the years (Amy, Emma, Eden, I’m lookin’ at you.) These girls have seen me through everything, and I feel so connected to them it’s sometimes hard to comprehend. Their pain is my pain. Their joy is my joy. Their tears are my tears. As different as we all are, and even though we are all in different parts of the world doing different things sometimes I forget where I end and they begin. They all understand different parts of me. They bring out the best, worst, but definitely the realest, rawest, most honest parts of me.

I couldn’t imagine life with out any of these three women in my life, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d survive it. In many ways, I consider them my soul mates just as much as I consider Chris my soul mate. If all four of them were in a burning building, I wouldn’t be able to choose who to save. I’d grab a bag of marshmallows, and we’d make s’mores as we all went down together.

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So much love.

There are different types of love. Anyone who I’ve considered a close friend can tell you that when I love, I love hard. Almost too hard. I’m fiercely loyal, almost to a fault. It’s certainly burned me a few times, and I’ve lost many a friendship I didn’t want to see go, but it’s also led to my having these wonderful people in my life. I don’t see much of a point in doing something if you aren’t willing to put your whole heart into it and risk being hurt.

They, Christopher included, are my soul mates. My soul sisters. The love of my life. My life has been tumultuous and busy and inconsistent the past few months, but I’ve always been able to count on them.

They’ve been the people who stood by as I took a sledgehammer to my life.

The people who let me do my thing, but weren’t afraid to call me on it when I took it too far.

The people who still loved me and helped me put the pieces back together when I did dumb things anyways.

The people who never, ever judged me.

The people who stayed up with me night after night to rehash the same shit over and over again.

The people who know when I need margaritas or a walk in the woods, and are always ready with either.

The people who take care of me when I’m sick or broken.

The people who drunk cry in the bathroom with me.

The people who let me smother them with love and affection, even if sometimes they’d rather I didn’t.

They are the people who know all the weird, random thoughts inside of my head and love me anyways.

The people I’ve chosen to be my family, no matter what blood or biology says about it.

They are the people that I know if they died, a piece of me would go with them.

We haven’t had perfect relationships. There are parts of all four of these relationships that I’d like to brush under the rug. I’ve been hurt deeply, but it’s only shown me the importance of forgiveness and the capacity of love in my heart. Loving someone deeply means also giving them the power to hurt you deeply. You trust they won’t, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. I’ve learned that short of intentionally hurting Sophie, there’s nothing these four could do to make me love them any less. You guys are stuck with me, even hen I’m an ocean away.

I’m lucky to have such incredible friendships in my life, but now I live on a different continent where making friends is hard. To say I miss them terribly would be an understatement. I’ve had these girls in my life for so long I forgot how to make friends. I stopped trying because I didn’t have to, but now I do have to, and I swear I feel like I’m online dating sometimes. How do adults make friends? It’s not as easy as it sounds. The need for human connection runs deep, but I’ve forgotten how to initiate such connections.

I had to remind myself that making new connections doesn’t mean getting rid of the old ones or that the old are less important. Not everyone has to be everything. (That seems to be a theme lately…) No matter what, they’ll always be there. I don’t think I know the right words to express how much they mean to me.

For that, I am extremely grateful.

 

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Expectations, freedom and a walk in the woods

There’s something about being in the woods that heals my soul. It makes me feel alive and safe and invigorated and full of life and calm and peaceful all at the same time. It heals all the multitudes of me. There I let my mind wander as much as my body is. I don’t question. I don’t judge. I just roam.

We went and visited Sanspareil Rock Garden yesterday, and it was incredible. The way the moss carpeted the rocks. The way these giant boulders had so many intricate parts. The way the ivy vines snaked across the landscape. The way caves and passages opened up as we went along. We stayed in a small corner of this giant nature preserve and still there was so much to explore.

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I feel like that’s how my mind is. As I try to sort and work through things, I keep unearthing more. Lots of parts go untouched or unseen because there are so many layers to uncover in the areas I am exploring. It’s overwhelming, really, trying to sort yourself out.

As we walked around and took in the sights, and I took pictures of almost everything, I had a thought. It’s me, I had about 100 thoughts. But this one feels important. This one is keeping me up at 2:30 in the morning. This one I need to share.

I thought that maybe we don’t need to be so caught up in sorting ourselves out. What the hell does that even mean, anyways?

I took in this beautiful array of vines and weeds and moss and wildflowers and rocks and dirt and roots and trees growing out of rocks and secret caves and realized this rock garden is no different than my brain. It’s a damn mess. That rock over there can’t decide if it wants to be a rock or a tree. These two tree roots are twisted in a fierce battle to occupy the same space. The ivy is twisted into impossible knots. Some of these wildflowers are no more than weeds that bloomed.

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Anyways, my point is that everything in that landscape just as. It just existed and was there. It wasn’t sorted out, and yet it as still so peaceful.

So why do I think I need to be sorted out? Why am I under so much pressure, mostly self-inflicted, to put all of my ducks in a row and get my shit together hen the ducks swimming on the lake aren’t even in a row? It’s stupid. I try to make myself be a certain way, feel a certain way, be interested in certain things and present myself to the world in a certain way. I preach so much this “doing whatever the hell you want” attitude, but rarely do I live it. So rarely, in fact, that when I do I drown my problems in tequila and make really stupid decisions. I end up doing things I don’t necessarily regret, but also that I’m not exactly proud of. But that’s another story for another, far less public time.

I’m over it.

I’m over sorting. I’m over trying to force things. I’m over trying to make things be the way they are “supposed to be.” There’s no right way to live a life. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual, for good reason. You can read all the self help books in the world, but it really comes down to knowing what you want and unapologetically seizing it.

Nailing down what you want is the hardest part. As many things as I have going for me, if you asked me what I wanted, I’d probably stare at you blankly. I don’t have a concrete answer for that question. Parts of me know that’s okay, and other parts of me are still trying to be okay with that.

All I know is I want to be happy and proud of the life I’m living and the role I play in this world. I don’t always feel that way. Sometimes I feel more like I’m playing a part in someone else’s story than living my own. That’s something I’ve grappled with a lot lately, owning my own story. I thought to own my own story I had to kick people out of it. That’s not always true. I’m definitely a proponent of weeding out negativity in your life, but it isn’t always necessary. For me, I just had to redefine some things. I spent a lot of time trying to fit an expectation, but that doesn’t lead to my happiness or pride in the life I’m living. If I’m trying to mold myself into one specific kind of person, am I really doing myself any favors? I realized I can be a good wife without being defined by my husband.

I’m happiest in the woods because that’s when I just let myself be. I don’t think about what I’m “supposed to” do or how I’m “supposed to” live. I just walk. I take it all in. I enjoy it. I give myself space and freedom, and in turn I find peace. I can do that in everyday life, too, without being reckless. Damn, where was that knowledge two months ago?

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We drove home yesterday going about 100 miles and hour down the autobahn, and I was just so damn happy. Chris even asked me if I was okay.

“Of course!” I answered. “I’m just happy.”

“I’m just not used to you being so happy,” he responded.

And he was right. Oh. So. Right. It’s sad how right he was. I’ve spent so long shoving myself into this little box, letting him shove me into this little box that I became a terrible person to be around. I was always grumpy, always irritable and forever changing my mind because I wasn’t allowing myself to be true to myself and what I really wanted. I’d try, but then I’d get so worried about fitting into that damn box so I’d change my mind to something that would fit.

Fuck that box. I’m taking a sledgehammer to that box. In fact, I already have over the past few weeks.

I thought it would take some giant cosmic shift to change things. I thought I’d have to go to the other end of the extreme to be rid of it. Hell, I did go to the other end of the extreme to get rid of it. There’s a way to have freedom and fun and spontaneity in your life without being reckless and destructive to what’s already there.

I had to remind myself that just because parts of things were bad didn’t mean that all of it as bad. I thought I had to chuck everything out and start over. I’m slowly making changes and getting rid of what doesn’t work.

Feeling free has become as simple as saying yes when I want to say yes and saying no when I want to say no. I spent a lot of time feeling like I had some sort of unstated obligation to do things I didn’t want to. I spent a lot of time letting others make me feel like I had to do things I didn’t want to do. Yes, life is full of things none of us want to deal with, but I was making everything –even the good things –that way.

I got so caught up in wanting to live with an open heart and do everything in love that I forgot it’s okay to set boundaries. Boundaries don’t mean shutting people out, not at all. It’s about respecting yourself.

I came across a quote recently that really resonated with me: “This is the messiness of life –that we all carry multitudes so we must sit with the shifts. We are complicated creatures, and the balance comes from that understanding.”

We all carry multitudes. 

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I can have 100 thoughts circling in my head, some that contradict each other. I don’t have to pick a side. I don’t have to have everything sorted into neat little stacks. My life doesn’t have to fit your expectations. Believe me, it won’t. It’s not all sunshine and daisies (although there has been a lot of both of those things lately).

Some days it’s just shit. And that’s okay. We all carry multitudes. It’s okay to be happy and sad at the same time. It’s okay not to be thrilled with things other people think you should be thrilled about. It’s okay to want to punch them in the face when they tell you how luck you are or how perfect your life is –just don’t actually do it.

It’s okay to be unsure about things. It’s more than okay to be a bit of a mess. Life is anything but neat and tidy, and I need to stop expecting it to be that way. I’m much happier when I release my expectations and just go with the flow.

I live for the moments when I can walk in the woods and watch Sophie climb and explore. When I can be free in knowing that even if things aren’t what I expected, they’re still beautiful.

I have all the power to make this life whatever I want it to be, and that, that is big stuff.