Endometriosis Support: Finding Your Tribe, Part 2
At the beginning of this week I talked about my experiences with friendships when life with endometriosis first began to get difficult - you can read all about that here. Recently, though it's been happening for a while, I've noticed I've started feeling better socially. The most important and noticeable of these changes, is the feeling that I am loved and accepted. When I was in meditation the other day with a group of loving women, I felt a happiness sweep through me. Holding hands in our circle, I felt charged by loving energy flowing from them to me, and from me to them. As I sat there marveling at the feeling, feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, the words from a Lana Del monologue appeared in my head "Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people"
"And finally I did."
Finding My Sister Circle
My first experience with this was with a group of women who I met over Instagram. Instagram, though I understand has it's flaws (as does everything), has been a catalyst for growing connections and friendships with like minded people. Like the night sky, we have joined up star by star to create beautiful networks of friendships and creation.
After a couple of weeks (or maybe months) of liking each others' posts, when I could no longer ignore the synchronicity, I reached out to a couple of these women and the others reached out to me - talking interviews, collaborations, meet ups. All of these women were based nearby, focused on natural healing and women's health and all brilliant entrepreneurs. We now share a Whatsaap group and support each other through our successes and struggles, and what's beautiful is that we all face various challenges with our female health - painful periods, thrush, endometriosis, PMS, vaginismus and other chronic reproductive conditions. I don't have to pretend or explain myself - we all get it. We don't have to have the same condition, but we get what it's like to be plagued by the anxiety, depression, ever changing moods, low energy and ill health that a long term illness can bring. What else is amazing is that we want to work together, we want to create magic and a safe space for other women. Personally I am drawn to people who have creative vision and entrepreneurship. I am so excited to hear how these minds think, they energise and excite me and I love bouncing ideas between ourselves. That's this group - I have been gifted with women who I can related to physically, emotionally and mentally.
At the same time, possibly even in the same week, I had my first encounter with She's Lost Control at Wolf Sister's workshop. You can read more of my experience in the post, but in that space I felt a sense of unconditional love wrapping itself around me. It was a kind of love that was so strong it filled the atmosphere like a perfume, it came from the space, it came from the meditations and it came from each other. That was the beginning of me forming friendships without really forming friendships. She's Lost Control attracts women who are open to love (or at least, want to be open to love) and I sense, from the work we have done together, all or some of them, have wounds, struggles or something to heal. Many have mentioned battles with their physical and mental health, reoccurring blockages in their life, a lack of self-love, etc. We don't share the same stories, but I understand theirs and they understand mine. Every class I have been to at She's Lost Control, I've met more women who embrace me for who I am, without even knowing who I am. As you walk into the space, instantly, you are amongst friends. Some you may continue to see at workshops, or meet up with for tea, others you never see again, but there is a connection within each circle I have attended that is so strong, so non-judgemental and so loving, that it doesn't matter if I don't see them all again. The time we all spent together was nourishment for us all and in a way, that's enough.
I think if I had been in the space where I wanted to stay a little bit out of the social limelight - which to be honest I still am in comparison to the normal person - the groups would have been enough. I probably could have flitted in and out on my own, had lovely, open, heart warming conversations with beautiful women and had left again with a full heart until the next time. For anyone who wants to dip their toe in socialising in a safe and caring environment, I think actually that this is a wonderful way to start. But for me, I was already slightly out of that isolation I had created, and every time I went, I was lifted a bit more out of it, and that encouraged me to respond to messages and invites from the women I met there, and for me to make myself vulnerable and send messages and invites to them.
I can't explain how it feels to talk to someone - or just meditate with someone - who radiates acceptance, love and even relief, relief that they've also found someone who gets them. I can see it in their faces that they just get it. Every time I meet someone like this I'm compelled to pull them into a bear hug and thank them and proclaim my love. I don't, because that might be weird (I say might because, well, SLC ladies will understand). Having these experiences has brought me a level of confidence within my interactions that I had lost for a long time. Among these people I don't worry about whether they are wondering if I am exaggerating, if they are bored of hearing my sob story, if they think I am self-absorbed. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a pity party - in fact, it's far from it. This is about a group of people and individuals using their experiences, sometimes painful ones, to enhance their lives and the lives of others. It's what I've been trying to do for a long time now, and I think amongst some who don't understand that, it has seemed like I've become obsessed with my condition. In fact, I'm just making the most of it.
It isn't my friend's fault if they don't understand the disease, hell, I don't understand the disease (okay let's be frank, no one understands this bloody disease). And I don't think it's about cutting off every single person who was in your life pre-endometriosis. Personally, I have found that this encouragement I have experienced from meeting new and like-minded people, has reminded me that yes, I may be different now, I may not be able to share a bottle of wine with friends or stay out dancing all night, but I am worth being around. It has given me courage to text the friends who I haven't seen for months on end and arrange catch ups. It's allowed me to be okay with them not getting it, because others do. It's made me feel grateful for my strange and unusual new social life, instead of thirsty for one that fits me.
Finding Endometriosis Support
We're all different, but if like me, you have felt yourself drift form your circle since your struggles began, it may be helpful to not continue to try and force it back to normal, or to run away from it completely - but to look outside of that group and see what new support might be waiting for you.
Instagram - I didn't want to make this post any longer, but there's so much more I can say about Instagram. I have had meet ups with women I have met on Instagram, that have turned into friendships and collaborations. I receive messages of support in my inbox, I get the loveliest comments and even responses to my Instagram stories. You can stumble across some dark stuff on Instagram, but there's also a lot of love and light too.
Endometriosis Support Services - If you want to meet people who all have endometriosis and you'd like to have others who you can talk to about it, I recommend finding some kind of endo support that suits you. As I mentioned in my last post, there's the EndoUK Support Groups, but there's also services like My Endometriosis Team, which is a social network for endosisters and even podcasts like Paige Gibbon's The Uterus and The Duderus, if you just want to know there's other people out there like you, but don't want to make contact yet. Have a look around, see what you can find.
Classes/Courses/Workshops and Groups - Maybe you're sick of talking about endometriosis and finding more people to talk to about it just makes you feel worse, that's okay too. You can still find people who lift you and understand you in ways you currently don't feel understood. Like I said, She's Lost Control has allowed me to enhance my spirituality and healing with others who are on similar journeys. What about tapping into areas that will make you feel better about endometriosis? Like going to a new exercise group or finding an online membership community for workouts or yoga you can do at home, but still brings you that sense of belonging (if yes, try out Find What Feels Good). Or perhaps you could find a book club? My friend has recently invited me to a book club ran by women, all reading powerful and motivational self-development books (dream).
Whatever it is that you're into or you feel called to right now, have a google, scroll through Instagram, somewhere, probably much closer than you think, is your tribe.