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Them my ride-or-dies (In My Beyoncè voice) : My Chosen Family

On Monday I went to my therapist appointment expecting to do a specialized trauma

treatment. Instead we talked about my parents. Family comes up in all things whether we want it to or not. Our good traits and challenging traits can often be traced back to our family

of origin. Talking about it in therapy is interesting. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is challenging. On Monday it was indeed challenging. I have a huge fear of disappointing my parents because they are great and they provided and sacrificed immensely to make sure my sister and I could have what they did not have. My therapist and I talked a lot about freedom and the ability to make choices that are good for me even if my parents do not approve of those decisions. I distinctly remember her asking when was there a time you were completely free and not fearful of disappointing? I immediately said I feel that often with my close friends. I went on to say that in a sense my friends are my chosen family because they see, hear, and join me in ways that my parents cannot. There are no expectations and there are no judgments. All I

have to do is show up as my complete authentic self and they do the same. She gave me homework and I started to see friendship show up a lot when thinking about the freedom and liberation in being who I am as a person who is healthy and happy. Friendship had already been on my mind after celebrating my best friend Tim’s birthday in California with more friends. It was really on my mind after that therapy session so much so that I knew I needed to blog about it.

“They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go but friendships never go out of style.”

My thoughts and definition of friendship has changed over the years. Friendship at 36 certainly isn't what it was at 12 yrs old or even 21 yrs old. My idea of friendship is a journey, a process. It is getting to know someone and vice versa. It’s a dance at times where both people are moving equally and fluidly giving the same amount of energy. Sometimes one of the dance partners needs more space to move and so they may dance about by themselves for a bit but they always mutually come back together with open arms, accepting each other

as they are, picking up the dance where they left off. My friendships have also challenged me a great deal to grow, to think, to take risks, to be my true authentic self, and to make mistakes. In many ways I have grown with friends in this way. There have been some friendships that didn’t grow together and instead grew apart. I have come to realize growing apart is a natural state of life as needs change and as you learn more about yourself. A great example of this was Covid and all of the things that happened in the world last year. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to hold space for all of the things in my life. I had to have space for all of the things I was responsible for my business and being able to show up as a therapist and boss. I had to have space for my family and my sister as she was carrying triplets and getting care at Vanderbilt. I also had to have space for myself and my emotions as I was doing my own processing of Covid, the brutal killings, protests and elections. Sometimes there isn’t space for any extra and a few of my friendships fell off the branch. While it was hard then, I understand now. Sometimes you can’t hold space for everyone and that is okay. Many of the people in my inner circle were experiencing the same things. We all needed space to dance alone and come back to the mutual dance when we were ready. Some people are not okay waiting for the individual dance to end to dance together again and that is okay.

I am so beyond thankful for my chosen family. Friendship means more to me than it ever has. As a 36 year old, single black female living in Nashville, I truly don’t know what I would do without my friends. Each and every friend in my tight circle of friends has been present for major events in life and have helped me through them. They truly pull me up and never let me down even in their humanness and need to dance alone at times. Most of all there is complete acceptance. Only Tim would be able to handle tearful outbursts standing in the middle of the street in Rome when we couldn’t find Trevi Fountain. He knew that those outbursts were coming from a place of hurt and pain after an extremely emotional breakup. Leslie and Latoya know that when I am quiet I’m either working hard (more than I should be) or something isn’t right and check in to see what’s happening. Susan and Melinda are always going to be there to debrief the good, bad and ugly times. Kristi and Bri are always going to be there with encouraging words and support in any way I need it. I am thankful for the dance of friendship and the people who choose to dance with me. I hope that I am even a fraction of the friends they have been to me.

Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself. ~Edmund Lee~

Some things to think about in regards to friendship…

~ Where am I in terms of my friendships? Dancing together? Dancing alone? Allowing them the space to dance alone?

~How do I actively nurture my friendships?

~How do my friendships add positively to my life?

~Where am I on my friendship journey and where would I like to be?


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