A Paean to My Friends

When I was in college, I used to make a habit of taking the time to write blog posts about individual friends, celebrating and praising them at a time that I loved one or the other particularly fiercely or when one needed to hear it most. But over the years, as time, and distance, and the priority shift of adulthood took over, I stopped doing that. On my drive home tonight (because driving always seems to put me in an introspective mood), it occurred to me that I should resurrect that tradition and make a point to let my friends know more often how much they matter to me. 

For the last few weeks, I have been dealing with a lot. Months actually, if I'm being honest. Most of it personal, some of it professional, and much of it the hard, scary work of finally addressing and putting to bed some of those darkest demons, the ones that have made me, I admit now, less than I could be. Old scars and new wounds. Old fears and new worries. It has been...a hell of a year, and while some of it has been good, much of it has been bad or life crossroads sort of moments. And in the past few weeks, it's all come to a head. 

My family is, and will always be, my first and most stalwart support system. But I live 3,000 miles away from my family and have for quite some time, and it is not always easy to pour out the hurts or fears or frustrations of the moment with a three-hour time difference. In their immediacy, my friends have become my support network, my sounding board, my life raft. My family, extended. 

This is for you, my friends who keep my world turning when it doesn't want to spin. 

Thank you. 

Just...thank you. 

I am loving. I am supportive. I am loyal beyond reason, and will fight like a tiger to protect my loved ones from hurt. 

But I know that I am also difficult, prickly, and often unyielding. I demand a standard of others that they sometimes can't live up to, the same insane standard I set for myself. I am calm and rational and understanding, and then at the worst possible moment, my insecurities will make me lash out with a venomous sting when I have been hurt. I am not for nothing a Scorpio, after all. I want so much for the people I love that I grow controlling and inflexible when I see them acting in ways that hurt themselves, damage their lives, or diminish who they are. I want so much for them to see themselves as I see them that I grow desperate in my frustration to help them stop tearing themselves down, rather than having the faith to let go and let them figure it out for themselves - even if I have to watch them walk through Hell and back. 

And the most miraculous thing to me, the most miraculous thing, is that just as I love you and see only your brilliance and best aspects when you can not see them in yourselves, you do the same of me. When I am doing and being all of the above and loathing myself for it, you take it in stride because you see all of me, not just the facet I am showing at the time.

You are all brilliant. You are beautiful. You live your lives in ways that leave me breathless with awe, and humble me completely. You are all fearless and brave and bold in your own ways. You are miracles, and every single one of you - every single one - is unique and rare and so wholly your own person. I could walk across the world a thousand times, and I would not find a person quite like each one of you, my inner circle, the people of my heart, my tribe. You are that vibrant and rare. Know that to me, you burn and you shine and you matter. You matter. You surprise me endlessly, and continually teach me what it means to be uncommon, to be brave, to be wiser, to be better

I have watched as you have each gone through...so, so much more pain than I could ever imagine enduring. Be it your darkest days, your hardest loss, the depths of the most primal grief, illnesses and disease that would strip me of my humanity, you only show me what it is to be human. I have watched you handle the worst things life could possibly throw at you with smiles, and while I'm sure I would only grow bitter and lash out, you humble me with your ever-boundless capacities for patience and selflessness. On your worst days, you have still carved out a small place in your own pain to let me pour out my petty hurts and complaints. You are all so strong that you make me stronger, just by being around you. You are each so much more than I am. You are the best of me. You have made the best of me. You inspire me each and every day to be more than who I am, simply so I can live up to the example you don't even realize you set. 

You have each, in your own way, healed me and helped me and kept me together this year when I felt the core of me starting to fray. But I have no gold to give, no statues to erect, no parades to throw. All I have is the only thing I've ever had to give, the greatest gift of mine as my only gift to you, my words. 

To my friends...

Thank you. 

You are my heart.