In years gone by, women gathered together to help each other through births, deaths, marriages and other life events. Much of their time together was spent talking whilst doing something else with their hands: cooking, sewing, weaving, minding children. They were members of a tribe that would close ranks on outsiders and support each other.
In today’s busy world, it is almost impossible to gather as a tribe.
And in today’s world, where people move around so much, away from their families, much is lost. Not just family recipes or patterns for weaving, but stories and knowledge that would have been handed down verbally.
As someone who has lived in four different countries over the past four decades and who has visited dozens more, I realise I have a tribe that none of my ancestors would recognise. And my tribe is, perhaps, scattered even more than most. Most of my tribe is not made up of women to whom I am biologically related. My tribe is made up of women with whom I have a soul connection.
I love that I have a global tribe. The women I feel closest to and learn the most from stretch around the world. In Australia, I have tribal members not just here in Canberra, but in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane too. My tribe includes women in New Zealand, the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and India.
I don’t always get to see them, in fact I rarely see most of them, but they are all a part of me. I carry them around in my heart.
I recently spent some time with one of my tribal sisters who lives in Scotland. Before last weekend she and I had only spent less than 40 hours physically in the same space in the past 20 years. But mentally, emotionally, spiritually we have a connection that was forged 20 years ago and we picked up immediately like we had never been apart the second we clapped eyes on each other.
We talked about how strange it is that we have spent so little time together and yet have this deep connection and are so similar.
And as we sat on the beach and discussed all manner of life, it led us to talk about what our definition of friend is. A true friend. A soul sister. A tribal sister.
My Scottish soul sister thinks you know a friend when the two of you are talking and you both have an ‘Aha’ moment – where you are both thinking the same thing and say it. I agree. That’s one sign.
We put the question to our daughters and the girls were unanimous that it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen a true friend or tribal sister. Time doesn’t matter. As soon as you see them, you pick up as if no time has gone by. We both agreed. How could we not, when we see each other so infrequently? So that’s another important sign.
For me, another sign is that I am always sad to say good bye to a member of my tribe. I wonder when, or if, I will ever see them again. And when I’m not with them, but I think of them, I can’t help but smile.
There are just certain people that I am drawn to. I can’t explain why they attract me or I attract them. It just happens. Something in our souls speak to each other. And sometimes we don’t actually get to spend that much time together. But that doesn’t seem to matter either. We’re still part of each other’s tribes.
Much like my ancestors, my tribe is female. I have close friends who are men but I don’t have a connection with them like I have with my tribal sisters.
I’ve never understood why women are considered the weaker sex. Each and every one of my tribal sisters are stronger, smarter, braver and more amazing than any man I have ever met. And yet so many of us have spent our lives trying to have relationships with men who let us down over and over again. We continually support them, lift them and make them feel good about themselves. Rarely do they support us in the same way or in a way that we need and want. And yet, we stick it out and try to make it work.
For every one woman I know who is in a happy relationship, I know four who are miserable. Which makes me wonder if maybe there’s a better way? Isn’t ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’ the very definition of insanity??
I’ve seen too many women stay in bad relationships despite the abuse or despite the loss of love. They stay because they think it’s for the good of the kids, or because no one in their family gets divorced or they think it will be too hard on their own.
It is hard on your own. Some days it sucks completely. But those are the days I have relied more on my tribal sisters. I’ve had to learn to ask for help. To trust that someone will be there to help me out and have my back.
Other days are absolutely amazing. I get to do things now that I never would have felt comfortable doing a few years ago. I’ve learned all kinds of things that I love doing on my own. And I have time to put myself and other members of my tribe first. Which is both important and fun.
In any tribe, there are always elders who provide wisdom and guidance. I am so fortunate to have five such tribal elders in my life. They are all half a generation older than me and each of them provide me advice on different parts of my life. None of my elders know each other or live in the same country. And yet, I know they would all love each other if I were to hold a tribal gathering in one place.
And I find that I am now turning into a tribal elder for women half a generation younger than me. I love this. It’s part of that circle of life, isn’t it?
I am grateful for each and every member of my tribe. Each one is a gift that has been given to me in this lifetime. And I’m grateful for the technology in my life that means I can keep in touch with my global tribe fairly easily.
I really love knowing that at any moment I have a tribal sister awake somewhere in some corner of the world. It’s like knowing there is a light on for me twenty-four hours a day. So to all my tribal sisters, I send you peace and love tonight, wherever you might be.
Namaste – I honour the divine light in you, that is also in me.