Finding your TRIBE

We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village” when applied to child-rearing.  I would submit that this same idea applies to life and, particularly, dealing with a terminal illness.  Now, as an introvert, I subscribe to the onion theory of relationships, i.e., the closer anyone gets in a relationship to me, the smaller the circle.  When I was diagnosed, I had that onion pretty well established, but I realized very quickly that I needed to create a new category.  Reaching out for support to strangers creates a great deal of anxiety internally for me, so that was not easy.

One thing I’ve learned over and over in the two years I’ve been living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer is that having a group of supportive metastatic men and women to turn to is not just a helpful thing, it’s a necessity.  When I encountered issues with women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, it was the ladies in my metastatic group that helped me sort through how I was feeling.  When I run into barriers to seeking medical care or when I’m researching something new or novel, I turn to those metastatic patient advocates that I know and trust.

Finding a supportive group of people hasn’t always been easy.   I’m online a lot now and I’ve found that online support groups fit the best into my schedule.  Having two little boys means that traditional support groups that meet in the evening just doesn’t work for me right now.  Plus going to a meeting to talk about such personal stuff gives me the willies.  I can write posts online or lurk in a group until I figure out the lay of the land; that fits my personality better.

Yet, there are so many online groups and not all of them are productive for everyone.  For instance, I’m a person of faith, but since that’s always been more of a private part of my life, it is a turn off for me when there are people who are posting lengthy religious comments.  Personal quirk of mine.  Another example is that I integrate both Western and Eastern medicine in my care.  I’m pretty open to try a lot of things, but I pull what makes sense for me from both camps.  It seems that most people are in one camp or the other and feel that their way is right.  I get that, but I still have to do what makes sense for me.  There is no one size fits all with cancer treatment or the cancer experience, yet some people want to make it so.  It’s just not.

With all of my quirks and what makes me me, it hasn’t always been easy to find my place and sometimes that place changes, but I think I’ve started to find my tribe, to find the group of men and women who are supportive and get me.   What I really do know for sure is that everyone needs that village, everyone needs that tribe.  Doing life with a terminal illness is not for the faint of heart and we all need support.

22 thoughts on “Finding your TRIBE

  1. Hi Abigail,

    I never would’ve guessed that you consider yourself an introvert. I am one and no longer apologize for it. (Maybe that’s another tribe to seek out.) I’m so glad you’ve found your tribe.

    I gotta admit, sometimes I don’t feel I’m part of any particular tribe online or otherwise. I’m not metastatic so I don’t fit in with those. My philosophy on how to deal with cancer crap doesn’t usually fit so well in the early-stager tribes. So I often don’t fit in there. You might think I’d fit in with the BRCA tribes, but for various reasons, I really don’t. I stopped going to in-person support groups because I didn’t fit in there. So yeah, I’m a sort of misfit, and I guess that is my only “complaint” about tribes. What if you don’t really fit in to any?

    And yet, I completely agree, we all need a tribe or two. Of course, there are a lot of friends I’ve made online, including my readers, so maybe I have a tribe or two, other than my family, of course, and don’t even fully realize it.

    Another thought-provoking read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy — us introverts get our energy from being alone, which is why blogging really is a good outlet. I find that my “tribe” is a smaller group of people than others might have. I like the onion metaphor for relationships, the closer to get to the center of the onion (you being the center), the smaller the circle. Works best for me! Love and light from one misfit to another. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My online support groups are my tribe.
    Getting support and giving support . It’s a win win. It’s a beautiful thing when someone in the online group needs to vent or has a question ,and like a wave the support comes in! Sometimes the advice isn’t what I agree with but i’ll Take what I can and leave the rest 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. But….if someone was very angry or had mental illness issues before they had cancer, they still do. I had to find my tribe with people I felt safe with and connected. I’m still processing the Kisha nightmare, lol. Thankfully she was not a friend of mine.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonderfully written and thought-provoking as always. (You set such a high bar for yourself each time!). I too would not have guessed you are an introvert. Interesting how many of us feel that way but come across differently here. Maybe it is we have, as you suggest, found where we are supposed to be.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve found my tribe since December: the Mel Wells Goddesses and more recently the extremely welcoming Instagram Tarot community. Have 1 breast cancer chum who I met at a Bipolar course before we both had cancer. Went on a Young Women With Breast Cancer weekend about 5 years ago and really hated it but have made a couple of breast cancer chums online…

    Liked by 1 person

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