My Galentines are the best ever, from the ones I know well to the ones with whom I’m beginning great friendships. I would be completely remiss not to thank them publicly, because their love has sustained me through an epic shitstorm, especially over the last three or four years. The ups and downs of both chemical and situational depression haven’t made me the easiest person to love, and yet, they still SHOW. UP. They are my poetic & noble land mermaids and my beautiful, talented, brilliant powerful musk oxen all at once.
I had a lot to process and get over this year, and they were there every step of the way, even when it got difficult. There’s nothing more I’d like than to be able to buy them all the waffles they could eat, or at the very least, love them by sneak attack by sending presents of unknown origin. But last year I was in a way better financial place than I am now, so you’re all getting presents, they just still live at Amazon.
Besides, there’s nothing that I could buy you that would say thank you enough for your words, hugs, and memories that stay with me, helping me to walk a little taller one day at a time. Because of you, I’ve learned that I am indeed lovable, and it isn’t necessary to keep cutting switches with which to beat myself up. I can let go of the past and make room for the future, in no small part due to the conversations we’ve had where you’ve looked into my eyes and let me see your hearts as well as you’ve seen mine. I hope that I have been even a fraction of the friend to you that you’ve been to me.
Things can’t have been quite equal since losing my mother, because you let me have so much room in our relationships to talk it over and process it out. Rest assured that I will never forget this fact, so that when your life is going sideways, I’ll be there, holding space for you, too. If there’s been any realization I’ve had over the past few weeks, it’s that living in community is far better than isolation, and when I isolate, it is a function of my illness and situational depression, because as my friend Phil says, depression lies… and it always knows the very best lies to use against you.
For me, that lie is that I’m not worthy of your company, cleared up immediately when I am actually in your presence. You allow me to be, well, more than I am. Funnier, more relaxed, and never wearing the mask of “acting as if.” When things aren’t fine, I can say so. You call me on the bullshit of humor deflection, or at the very least, laugh and say, “let’s get back to the real issue here.” You are the ones that can pull me out of my own head, and it is something for which I am more grateful than you will ever know.
It is because of you that I know I have room for a family in my life, because it won’t happen in the future. The future is already here… my family of choice along with my bio family, joining together in an amazing safety net. But the other thing I’ve learned is my limitations, knowing when to talk to friends and when to talk to doctors. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way, but often what is worth it isn’t easy. I know now when I need a friend and when I need a professional, sometimes because I can feel it and sometimes because you’re not afraid to call it to my attention.
You are the people I trust to be my Board of Directors, because sometimes I have my own back and sometimes I need a little help reminding myself that I am powerful enough to take charge on my own… but everyone does, no? Sometimes the best course of action is not to overthink a situation, but just to laboriously breathe through it and let the answers come organically over time. You remind me of this fact, that I do not have to keep tapes running at the forefront of my mind, that sometimes the back burner is even more helpful… or that after a good night’s sleep, a so-called problem is gone altogether.
You’ve sat with me through an enormous amount of pain, because there are no scars from joy… therefore harder to focus on it until you remind me that it is always there, around me and within me… that I am capable of letting chaos swirl around me rather than internalizing it. I pray to be the eye of the storm, because I cannot control it, or anything, really. I can only control my reactions to tropical storm wind.
My answer lately is to try and become the storm, because there are so many people out there that need help. To not try to help “the least of us” is contrary to my nature, and you’ve helped remind me of my bigger purpose, that when I cannot leave my room because of anxiety and fear, I can leave because my sense of social justice overrides it. I meet you at marches, taking in the power that people have when they band together, particularly the strong bonds of women who support each other. Though I have times through grief where I just cannot even, nevertheless, I persist. When my heart is in the right place, everything else in my life flows from its ability to beat, loud and strong.
From the personal to the political, there are lots of storms I’ve walked through and am preparing many more, but I wouldn’t have gotten here without you, your footsteps next to mine, occasionally dragging me into the future when I am lost in the thoughts of things past.
When my mother died, I sent Susan an e-mail saying, “sitting on the tarmac at Hobby, awaiting what comes.”
In that moment, the best thought in the world is that I was not sitting alone.
Thank you, deeply, with great sincerity, for picking me up when I feel like everything hurts and I’m dying. On this day, I wish you love, care, and waffles with extra butter and syrup.
You are mine, and I am yours.