Home > Life > We’re a family; we’re a team.

We’re a family; we’re a team.

Tomorrow, I start my new job as a medical social worker. I realize some people switch jobs frequently, but this is a big deal to me. I thought I was going to be at my previous position for at least another year, but abrupt agency changes made me see that I needed to rethink what I was doing. When I graduated from my MSW program, I had a rough five year-plan of my career path. I would get my LCSW and then apply to doctorate programs. During a transitional period in administration at my last job, I realized my agency did not have the capacity to support me in my career goals. When I was offered my new position, I saw that this change would put me on track with my goals. This new job is an opportunity. And that’s scary to me. Sometimes, when things are really, actually happening the way you want them to, it’s exciting, but it also means that you have to hold yourself accountable to all that talk you’ve been doing and make things happen. Now I have to make things happen.

So I am scared. At the same time, I don’t care about being scared. I feel invincible these days. Throughout my family’s history, we’ve been through some desolate times. I remember being a freshman in college, lying in my bunk bed in Massachusetts, staring at the white cement wall. I’d think of my dead brother and miss him so badly, I’d wish I could dissolve into little particles and float away.  Things became manageable, but I got sucker-punched time and time again over the years by other life stuff. I know that horrible things are still to come. That’s certain. I know I will fall apart here and there. That’s also certain. Yet I don’t feel hopeless. I think I feel strong, and I think I know why.

In these last 10 days, I’ve spent a lot of time with family.  My family is not limited to biology–I also have my family by marriage, my friend family, and my judo family. In each facet, even biological, the relationships that impact me the most have been constructed over time. I’ve always loved my dad and I’ve always loved my cousin, Noah, but it’s taken effort between all of us to reach out, listen, empathize, and support each other– to really know each other as the individuals who we are. When Noah started to build his own family, it was up to me to get to know his wife and be a part of his children’s life. It was up to them to let me in.  Before my dad and his wife, Jeannie, got married, I spent a lot of time with Jeannie and her family. Now that my dad and Jeannie are married, I feel a new sense of commitment, loyalty, and protection towards Jeannie and my new brothers and sister.

Over the weekend, I experienced two instances where I felt both content and secure. The first was on Friday night. I spent only a few hours with my first judo coach, his daughter, Kristin, and her husband at a judo clinic and dinner afterwards. There were a handful of other people there who I’ve know for over 25 years. There’s such comfort being around those guys. They’ve seen me at my most emotional and miserable, but also at my best. I always feel like I can be myself around them. It’s been pretty cool to see that our relationships are still evolving. Kristin and I have become closer though we live hundreds of miles apart. It’s fun for me to get to know her husband little by little and see how good that relationship is for Kristin. Her dad is no longer my tough, scary coach, but more like a goofy uncle (but a goofy uncle I whom I still fear and respect on the mat). After so many years together, I know that no matter where we are in the world, we can rely on each other. The bond you form on the the mat is unique. If you trust someone on the mat, you end up trusting them with anything. The second instance was on Saturday, when I spent about an hour messaging back and forth with a little brother from my friend family, Mike. Mike’s older brother, Dennis, and my older brother, Scott, were inseparable from seventh grade until my brother died when they were 19. Since I lost my brother, I adopted Dennis and Scott’s closest friends as my big brothers. I never knew Mike well growing up because he’s about six or seven years younger than I am. Recently, Mike and I have engaged in a few brief conversations about writing and the creative process. On Saturday, we talked more about art and writing, but also about our growing comfort with one another, which we know is due to some of the horrible things our families have gone through and the subsequent love and support we’ve extended.

After talking with Mike, I spent a lot of time thinking about how the people you endure the hard stuff with are the people who become your family.  You hold each other up when it seems like everything is crumbling, and then when the dust settles, you figure out how to laugh together and find joy in each small moment. You bring out the best in one another. You’re a team. And that’s why even though I’m scared to start my new job tomorrow and take a big step, I’m not that worried. I’m on a big team.


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  1. Dennis Nappi II
    July 1, 2014 at 21:43

    Lori, I love how you are so open in your writing. Your experiences and hardships have given you wisdom beyond your years, and I’m inspired by your commitment to building and maintaining relationships. I always tend to withdraw, and have been trying ready hard to better extend myself. Thank you for sharing this.

    • July 2, 2014 at 21:13

      Thank you, Dennis. I think because I grew up in such a messy family, I learned slowly to trust my friends when I got older. Then, as things changed, I realized my family was there for me and I wanted to be there for them.

      I don’t think we’re build to survive alone. Well, maybe we can survive, but without supportive, reciprocal relationships we’re just scraping by. I’m glad I have you and all the Nappis!

      • Dennis Nappi II
        July 2, 2014 at 21:51

        We’re so glad to have you too, Lori. Your family is incredibly strong, and I love hearing about how close you are with your dad and Noah. Love you!

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