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On Losing My Tribe

My heart is broken. In the past year, my tribe, my village, my close knit circle of friends, has literally halved. As a South African, I am sure I am not alone in this experience. But it’s hard and it hurts.

At the end of last year, my friend, Kate, the second mom to my children, whom I’ve known since our eldest kids were just 9 months old, emigrated to New Zealand.

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This is the woman who came to our rescue when our house flooded. Who brought us a sledgehammer to release the water from our yard, who took my children in, fed them, bathed them, cared for them and loved them, while we worked to clean our house after the floods. This was my friend, who when my husband was being an asshole, I could phone and say:

“Katie, I need you!”

And by the time I’d arrive at her house, the wine would be poured and her husband would have made himself scarce. Our friendship worked both ways, there was nothing we wouldn’t do for each other. Nothing. We stood by each other, we supported each other, we encouraged each other and honestly, I’ve been a little lost without her.

Then my friend, Jenny, left. Off to Australia. She was the friend who always knew what I was thinking because she was probably thinking the same. We would indulge in sarcasm and eye rolling together and jaded laughter together.

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She was the friend I could show all sides too. The person who understood me because she was so similar to me.

This past weekend, I said goodbye to my dear friend, Sabrina. We only became friends last year, but the first time we socialized together, and I landed up going to the petrol station at midnight in my pajamas with her, our friendship was cemented. She’s not just my amazing hairdresser, but she’s my friend and now she’s leaving to Australia too.

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Who is going to Brazillian my hair now? Who is going to laugh at me and put me in my place now?

I also said goodbye to Melinda. She left a few months ago to go to New Zealand. We walked a long path of infertility together and became really close after being unified by adoption.

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Early in 2017, my loyal running buddy and the friend who drives my kids home from school will be off to New Zealand. Then who’s going to whip my arse into shape when I do stupid things like enter half marathons. Who will I rely on then to fetch my kids when I can’t. Who will be the calm in the wild between myself and our mutual friend, Heather?

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So many friends, just gone from my tribe, from my village. Each one of them played a unique roll in my life and now they’re gone.

I know people say it’s a global village and thank goodness for Skype and Whatsapp, but it’s just not the same. I find myself pulling away from these friends because it hurts so much to see them go, because I miss them so much. Because a Skype call or a Whatsapp is not the same as drinking a glass of wine together. Because I can’t pick up the phone and say I need you and then see you in 5 minutes.

The exit flood also makes me extremely anxious. We have put our plans to emigrate on hold, settling on a semigration instead. But are we making a mistake?

I’m sad. I’m scared. I’m lonely without these friends.

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31 Comments

  • Reply victoire

    My sister and I had a similar chat over a WhatsApp call on Sunday, a year after she emigrated to Australia. It is really tough and we don’t get to Skype / call each other as much as we thought we would.

    November 8, 2016 at 8:33 am
  • Reply catjuggles

    AI Sharon – I understand it so well. 9 Years ago my horse riding partner, neigbour , boeremarket partner and friend of now 27 years left for Canada – it was a huge empty void left by her adn my husband who share the driest sense of humour on earth. Then my BFF that I met the first day we started our studies left for Oz 5 years ago – she was my twin advice mom, the one that carried me through my pregnancies as our paths are so similar – she also has a daughter 33 motnhs older than a set of twin boys – also with one of them with special needs. I miss her and our spontanious coffee dates and cries on the shoulders. I had such an empty void. And it goes on…. luckliy SA is full of great people – it’s just that friendships of 30 plus years does not get build in a few days

    November 8, 2016 at 8:34 am
  • Reply karentoittoit

    We have family in London and Seattle, and it’s not the same! FB photos don’t make up for time together 🙁

    November 8, 2016 at 8:40 am
  • Reply Pandora

    I so get it. My entire family is overseas and all my old friends have left the country. I have friends I’ve made since having my daughter but it’s not the same as someone who has known you for so long that they just get you. I find it harder to get that close to newer friends. I also pull away a bit, even with family as it’s too painful sometimes to keep up with the daily details. Whatsapp and Skype are not the same as being with them. It it does help though because before it was expensive to keep in touch. It’s sad that so many families are separated like this. Kids missing out on grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. It hurts even more for my daughter. Thank goodness she has my in laws here so she does have a set of grandparents close by.

    November 8, 2016 at 8:47 am
  • Reply Jodie

    Ah shame – that’s terrible 🙁 I was just going to ask what happened to your emigration plans?! What’s a semigration???

    November 8, 2016 at 10:07 am
    • Reply Sharon

      We’re hoping to move to Cape Town.

      November 8, 2016 at 10:28 am
      • Reply Nicky Davis

        Well Cape Town will be better off for having you and your family! At least you can hook up with friends from school and Carmen!

        November 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm
  • Reply suzannacatherine

    Keeping you in my prayers and abiding with you.

    November 8, 2016 at 11:55 am
  • Reply moonstormer

    As one who is planning to emigrate, yeah… it’s really hard for everyone involved. I always think of my friends as the family I’ve made for myself, and to be apart is so painful. But, we all have to make choices that work for our families. It’s sad, but I think more South Africans will leave before things come right again. 🙁

    November 8, 2016 at 4:50 pm
  • Reply Corrina

    I know your sense of loss so well. It has been around 14 years since I left home and the friendships I held so dear. It just does not compare to being face to face with someone who knows you, who gets you, who does not judge and who is cut from the same cloth. Its hard. Its damn hard and of all the loves I love about living in Europe, being away from my close friends has been the most hurtful aspect to deal with. I know they are there when I visit SA, but all the years and moments we did not get to share make me sad. I have three kids and never had a baby shower for one of them because I simply had no “best” friend over here to arrange one for me (even though its not really a European thing) but still….I cried buckets over the fact many times while all hormonal. Just cherish the moments you have together when you have them and love every single friend you have. No matter what. You know they love you back!

    November 8, 2016 at 6:45 pm
  • Reply Stephanie

    I no ur pain, by 2 best friends from school days also moved overseas and it so hard, hang in there xxx

    November 8, 2016 at 7:02 pm
  • Reply Mrs FF

    It’s hard but you get on one way or another. And who knows friends might come back and you might move closer to them too. The silver lining is you get to make new friends and form new ties … sending you big hugs

    November 9, 2016 at 5:32 am
  • Reply Cassey Toi

    Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeg hugs

    November 9, 2016 at 4:09 pm
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