Importance of Finding Your Tribe
I was looking at my blog post drafts on WordPress and saw this post I started 2 years ago. I was scrolling through Facebook at the time and came across the following written by my friend Kim Chrisco. It inspired me to write about the importance of making an effort to find your tribe.
She wrote, “Today, I’m reflecting on the amazing people God has strategically placed in my life along the way. Some have loved and encouraged me. Others may have abused, shunned, or shamed me. The truth about life is that we either grow together or we grow apart. And since we are constantly growing, that means that some people are in our lives for a season, or a reason, or a lifetime. Celebrate those who have and will make this life journey with you.
And don’t be afraid to let go of those who aren’t growing with you…sometimes it’s best to love certain people from afar. And that’s okay too. Believe in yourself and listen carefully to God’s whispers constantly guiding you along the way. He will reveal those true friends/loved ones and will help you let go of those who wish to deter you on your journey. This is your life journey…so step up and take part in it. Stay present in this moment and let go of past hurts and future worries. Only this moment matters. And what you make of this moment is up to you. Ever-present, From My Inner Pilot Light to Yours”
Wow!! Those words hit me and still do! When I first moved to Jonesboro, 18.5 years ago, I thought the friends I made when my children were small would be my life long friends. I was naive and thought when I had a connection with these moms, we would be friends indefinitely! As it turns out, not all relationships are designed to last, but each one is teaching you something. I work to be the best friend I can and if a relationship ends for any number of reasons, it’s ok to let that relationship go.
Evaluate Current Relationships
It’s important to take a current evaluation of your relationships. There are some friends I can’t wait to see and I light up in their presence. We both give each other energy and it feels good to spend time with them (Kim for example). Others drain me or always seem to take more than they give. Sometimes I allow people who are only supposed to be in my life for a season, to linger. It’s something most of us do. It is so very important to take the time to find your tribe. They are the people who light you up, give you energy, and love you just as you are.
I learned that reality is more like what Kim described. We are all growing and I didn’t realize how much until I reached my late-thirties. I spent a decade trying to be a part of people’s lives who were just on a different path than mine. I felt like something was wrong with me but now I understand it’s ok to grow apart from those who are not meant to be in your life for long. Since our relationships teach us lessons, we can trust each person we encounter was placed there for a reason. It’s important that we are always becoming a better version of ourselves and some people help us to grow into better people each day while others don’t.
I’m blessed to have a tribe of people I can call day or night. They love me unconditionally and I can be myself without worrying they will judge me. I have a Wellness/Life Coach, Tharwat Lovett who calls me out when I’m being too hard on myself or tells me if I need to look at a situation from another step back – the big picture. Thank you for loving me so well Tharwat. I am part of a group called ShiftHer and we are a group of like-minded, positive, and optimistic professional women. We support one another in reaching our goals all while reading a different book each month. These ladies are all striving to accomplish big goals and become better people along the way. We meet via Zoom once a month to discuss the book along with progress toward our goals.
I messaged Kim immediately after reading her post a couple of years ago and said we needed to do lunch soon. She agreed to lunch and an interview the following Monday. Kim is a friend with whom I always feel like I can be completely open. She doesn’t judge me, she’s loving, kind, and considerate. She’s an excellent listener, easy to relax around, and I always feel better after an interaction with her than I did before. We met around 8 years ago when she was teaching a Bible study at First United Methodist Church. A lot has changed over that expanse of time. The most recent change is that she is now divorced from her husband of 24 years and is happy with her new single life (she has since taken a paralegal position in Chattanooga and bought an amazing house on her own).
We met for lunch (pre-covid) at Truck Patch and after exchanging pleasantries, we got our food and sat down. Truck Patch Natural Food Market, offers the “opportunity to shop for healthy alternatives to conventionally, mass-produced food. They believe if quality food is a priority in your life, you will feel and see the difference in your life.” They have a restaurant in the store and it serves fresh and delicious sandwiches, smoothies, a salad bar, and more.
Kim’s Abusive Husband at 17yo
We started by discussing Kim’s young motherhood. Kim said, “I was married at 17 and had my first son Ryan at 18. Ryan’s father was terribly abusive. God sent certain angels into my life that were encouraging and positive. They enabled me to leave that marriage despite being terrified! I knew immediately when the abuse began, how badly I needed to improve myself and get out. I put myself through paralegal training and the angels I mentioned before were placed in my life at just the right time to encourage and push me to improve myself and muster the courage to leave.”
“At one point my husband kidnapped me as I came out of work at a law firm. With a child, I had no choice but to keep going. I wanted out so I could protect him. At 20 years old we got out and 7 years later I met my second husband, Count,” she continued.
As she shared her story with me I tried to imagine what it would be like to not be old enough to legally drink, have a 2-year-old son, and escape a severely abusive relationship. I just can’t. It’s wild how much life we can live in just 18 short years. I thought about what I was like at 18 years old and I definitely would not have been in the best situation to raise a child. I was basically a child myself. My oldest is 18yo and it’s hard to wrap my mind around being a grandparent right now.
Kim went on to say, “Negativity has always rubbed me wrong. I think because I have had to be my own cheerleader and boost myself up to where I was strong enough to leave that abusive marriage. Then it was like my testimony was going and working in a women’s crisis center in Chattanooga and I did that and I pulled our law firm into it. Every week we did dinner for these women and then I got other law firms in it and their secretaries would go and do dinners on different nights. And then I went and bought Christmas presents for them and their kids the day after Thanksgiving. It was a realization that I need to help other women that have been in this same situation. Helping others and keeping a positive attitude to give to them has helped me to be a positive person to myself.”
Kim married Count at 27 and went on to have two more children. Although she had healed so much, she was still a people pleaser. She did whatever it took to please other people because of her experiences with abuse in her first marriage. Because of these experiences, she is now a “beacon of positivity to other people.” It helps her when she helps others.
Kim’s Tribe (Ya-Yas)
I love how Kim has a huge support system that she has created for herself. She knows that you become like the 5 people you spend most of your time with. She has a group of women called “Ya-Yas” that is made up of 9 women, all different ages (40 years old to 70 years old), backgrounds, and lived in Jonesboro. They all met up randomly and pulled different people into their group. They did a book study every Tuesday at noon. Then once a month they gathered at one of their houses, this is called Ya-Ya night. They went to things like art shows, went out to eat, or to Memphis on the weekend. They also grow spiritually with meditation at Eastern Livity (this was before covid and before Kim moved to Chattanooga).
Kim said, “These ladies have been an incredible force of encouragement when my ex-husband Count was sick with leukemia. They also encouraged me to make changes in my life when I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I was unhappy for a very long time and didn’t want another divorce or a broken home with small kids. She mourned the family unit that she wanted it to be, but that it never could be with him.”
“I have met some incredible people while going out and finding myself. I have had several different groups of women I connect with on a regular basis and I have created a community of friends who I learn from both intellectually and spiritually. There are love and acceptance no matter who and what you are; I enjoy philosophical conversations,” Kim said while sounding happy and grateful.
Kim started meditating about 5 years ago and she explained it is a must for her, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Depending on her mood, she will use an app or go to YouTube and watch a guided meditation she has saved. Or in the morning she will get up and go into a quiet meditation or contemplative prayer and it centers her. Then she would go to the gym or write.
She shared that she likes the book “Change the Story of Your Health” by Carl Grcalls because it forces you to be honest with yourself about where your health is at that point in time. Not just physical, but emotional, financial, spiritual, and mental. Then through different practices and applications, you dig deeper and ask yourself what in the past has brought you here? Then you elaborate and then journal about it all. Kim has shed lots of tears along with laughing. She said the journaling part has just been awesome.
I asked, “What does healthy living mean to you at this point in your life?”
Kim said, “Healthy living is listening to your inner guide. Ignore the other voices and opinions. Quit being afraid to pull the trigger. Quit worrying about being judged. I turned fifty and decided to stop living for other people. Giving and not taking care of myself was exhausting. I was ready to make my own choices without outside stressors interfering with my life, so I decided that NOW is the time and I am ENOUGH. So after 24 years of marriage, I decided to not worry about everyone else.”
I then asked, “Knowing what you know now? What would you tell your high school self?”
“I would say to follow your own dreams, not your parents. What is life speaking to you? Stay connected and be honest with yourself. Take the time you need to find yourself and what makes you thrive. Don’t let life just ‘happen’ around you; go out and create it. Remember there is power in positivity. Don’t let the negative vibes of others weigh you down. You must set your intention, feed it with positivity, love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Don’t only forgive others but forgive yourself too.
Never pretend to be anyone other than who you really are. For years, because of a need to please, I was a chameleon who changed my colors, spots, and stripes to be whoever I needed to be for the person in any relationship to be happy with me or accept me (not just romantic relationships). Huge mistake! It’s not fair to you or the other person in the relationship. When you pretend to be someone else, you lose yourself in the process. Years will go by and you will no doubt have a battle on your hands to regain who you are.
When I turned 40, I started working hard on myself and digging deep to find myself again. It was painful – not just for me, but for my now ex-husband as well. When I realized I could no longer pretend to be someone else in order to please others, my entire life changed. It was difficult, but in the end, my life has a whole new meaning and I love it. I discovered I liked myself exactly for who I am. If others like me, great! But, if not, that’s definitely okay as well. I’m good with it. Just remember that you become like the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so choose carefully.”
The final question I asked was, “Kim, what in life makes you the happiest?”
“The laughter of my children and the belly laughter of my grandchildren; the warm hugs of love, acceptance, and encouragement I receive from my family, my Ya-Yas, and other soul sisters I have met along the way; and the possibilities of new beginnings. At 50, I took a chance on myself and started a new chapter in life. It was scary! But, I believed in myself and I allowed myself to open up to new possibilities; I listened to my heart, said a prayer, and waited for guidance from my Inner Pilot Light. You have to get still and listen to the guidance and then take action…set the intent and let go. Wow, what a ride it has been so far!” Kim said with joy in her eyes.
What I love most about Kim is that she is genuine. As I age, I am learning to be very picky about who my friends are because I know the importance of my tribe. Kim and I may not see each other as often now that she is in Chattanooga, but we have plans for me to go visit as soon as we feel it is safe to travel. We will always keep up! Thank you for being an amazing friend and for believing in me before I truly believed in myself.