Yesterday was the birthday of one of my brothers. Since this brother is one of the ones I'm closest to, he got a cheesy IG birthday post from me (yes, I can own my cheesiness) (I prefer to say I'm sentimental).
Between that and talking to him to see how his day was, I can't but think once again just how grateful I am to have the place in their lives that I do. More than pretty much anyone else in my life, it makes me feel so good to support them and make them happy.
I've been trying to figure out why exactly they are so much more special to me than most people in my life. I've boiled the answer down to three reasons.
1) They are the first people who never once made me feel like I had to try to impress them. They saw me just as I was from the very first night, even when I still had walls up, and decided they wanted me in their group. It frankly still makes no sense to me some days, and I often catch myself bracing for the moment when they tell me they don't want me anymore, even though I rationally know that's never going to happen. They've seen me at my worst, and not only did they help me through it, they stayed around for when it got better. For when I got better.
2) They saved my life, more times than they know. A former therapist told me that I have this tendency to think that I have to do things in order to make people want to be my friend, and she's right. And I know that I don't owe them anything - these boys have never asked for so much as a thank you for all they've done - but I feel this innate desire to live out the gratitude that I feel and take care of them the way they have so often taken care of me.
3) I feel so, so lucky every single day that I'm the one they "chose." I mean, I'm not the only person who regularly went to their games my senior year. I didn't do anything to try to make myself stand out among the crowd. I just happened to know Bryce, and he happened to invite me to one of the after-game meals, but I wasn't the only non-player there, either. I started going to the games regularly for Bryce and because I like soccer. He kept inviting me to the meals. And I happen to be a 100% extrovert who took the opportunity to talk to some of the best-looking guys on campus and ran with it. I didn't know they'd like me. It wasn't my goal to make them like me.
I didn't realize it until after I started to trust them that a big part of the reason I kept going back in the beginning even though it terrified me was that I really just liked the attention. I felt seen for the first time in a very long time by some of the last people I expected. They saw past my size and my looks. They saw past my sicknesses and seizures. They saw past my walls and scars and baggage. They saw me for who I was, and they helped me become who I wanted to be, a girl not held back behind walls or tied down by fear. So many other people decided I was too much to deal with. These guys decided I was worth it. They helped me believe that I was worth it, too.
And the lessons didn't stop when I graduated. (Otherwise, I wouldn't still be writing about them two years later.) They remind me of and reteach me about unconditional love any time I get to have a conversation with one of them. Yes, it's more complicated now that there's distance between us, but another thing these relationships have taught me is that love transcends all, even distance.
So yeah. They're my boys. I'm their sister. Lucky, lucky me.