This past weekend I attended the wedding of my oldest friend. She is a kind soul that has tolerated my childhood tantrums and loved me through it all- even if she didn’t always like me. To be fair, I was filled with attitude at a small age. I wasn’t always likable. Her home has been my safe haven for 28 years. She is an incredible human being and I got to witness her union. I am so very happy for her. There was no hesitation that I would be one of the faces in her crowd. But I was afraid. I was afraid of the sadness I may feel. The tears I may shed. But I armed myself with the cutest date on the planet and faced my fears.
I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t feel pain. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t envious. I was just happy for her. Elated for her and her new beginning. Her exciting journey. She deserves all of the love and blessings in the world. For nothing other than the fact that she is an amazing mother and an even better friend. She has shared her marvelous family and her home with me without hesitation over the years.
Moose and I spent the evening surrounded by family. Not only the family that gave me life, but the family that chose me, so many years ago. I am a blessed woman to not only have birth parents, but two wonderful step parents, and two incredible people that have been my second set of parents for the majority of my life.
I have struggled throughout my existence to feel whole. To feel like I belonged somewhere. Intellectually I knew I had people in my life that cherished me, but feeling it- that is a whole other story. Even within my marriage, I never really believed I had unconditional love. I’m not sure I could have recognized it even if I had. But I had a beautiful moment Saturday night. A moment I would never have had the opportunity to experience without my beautiful friend, her love, and her generosity. A moment of bliss where I knew in my soul that I was surrounded by love.
My J-Dad is the amazing man that has been a father figure to me since I was four. A man that has taken care of me, taken me on “dates”, and loved me for no other reason than the fact that he is a beautiful soul. He took me by the hand and pulled me to the dance floor. We were dancing like fools and laughing- and time slowed. The dance floor was filled with the familiar faces of J-Dad, my mom #2, J and her wonderful new husband, J’s brother, my mother, patient step father, and my beautiful son weaving through us all. I knew that this was my peace. This was the one place I never have to worry about who I am. I never have to question the love given to me there. In that moment, I felt embraced by love, friendship, and acceptance. I think in that moment, I accepted myself. I accepted my poor dance moves and my awkward nature. I embraced my cracked facade and emotional hiding places. I embraced the choices, mistakes, missteps, and blessings that have molded me into the woman I am today- at this moment.
I don’t think I will ever be able to thank the people in my life that have stood by me. That have loved me despite my growing pains. The people that melt my heart when I see them interact and love my son. The people that have created the same cocoon of security for him that they extend to me. Because of them, he will have more love than he will ever know what to do with. He will never know the cold world without a support system. He will have a larger family than blood ties can extend. He will have a family bound by love and choice. The strongest kind of tribe one can ever hope for. The most important dream I could conjure for my handsome little man. And I am lucky enough to have it a reality. The life I am living is one I never expected. It is so much better. And I am so much better for it.
In this week of Thanksgiving, embrace your family. The individuals that may be related by blood, but also the ones that chose you. The ones that are your family because your souls see one another. The people that answer your phone calls when you are crying so hard your words aren’t distinguishable. The people that hug you with everything they have when they see you. The people that know you- your strengths, your flaws, your vulnerabilities, your mistakes- and admire you anyway. Remember that you are loved- even when you can’t love yourself. Surround yourself with those people at every chance you get. Envelop yourself with those people when you don’t feel like you deserve them- for that is the most important time to see their smiling faces. I pray all of you have the fortune to have a moment when time slows, love surrounds you, and you can see your blessings with a sharpness that you haven’t seen before. Have a lovely Thanksgiving with the people that fill you with strength and laughter.