1. any of various devices dropped by a chain, cable, or rope to the bottom of a body of water for preventing or restricting the motion of a vessel or other floating object.
2. any similar device for holding fast or checking motion: an anchor of stones.
3. any of various devices, as a metal tie, for binding one part of a structure to another.
4. a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security.
What is an anchor? It is a device–typically with hook-like arms that bury themselves in a secure surface to provide a firm hold–that can hold an enormous amount of weight in place, it will stop unauthorized drifting, but still give a little leeway for small movement. An anchor and anchor line are essential to the safety and integrity of a much larger mass. Both are sunk deep into water, debris, earth, and/or ice, and are completely hidden from view at the surface while holding the vessel steady against storms, currents, external forces and other potential instability. In fact, in many ways an anchor is often forgotten until it starts to slip and the once safe and secure cargo starts to lurch and sway.
Let’s talk about the life of an anchor for a minute (yes, this is a metaphor). Anchors have enormous hooks and barbs to secure their load, they often get hurled onto and then dragged across treacherous surfaces while trying to find a point of stability. An anchor carries countless scars, is covered in grime or barnacles, and spends its existence clawing for security in order to exert all its integrity and leverage in order to keep the load steady. An anchor spends every important and worthwhile moment of its life submerged.
Sometimes we are the cargo ship.
Sometimes we are the anchor.
Right now, and for the last several
months years, I have been cast in the role of anchor…and I’m tired. I’ve clawed at everything within reach to try to stay steady, I’ve scraped and scrambled to eliminate or redistribute weight, I’ve grimaced during the storms, hoping I can force them to cease and desist by sheer willpower (not possible). I’ve held on with my teeth, when necessary, exerted strength and determination I didn’t know I had, and, in a lot of ways, I’ve had success. But, I’ve also been slowly drowning.
I’ve been sinking for a long time, bumping along a rocky field trying to find something to latch on to, and several weeks ago I hit my lowest point. A few days later I had a massive panic attack in my doctor’s office and my medication that had been an “as needed” fix became a wonderful, wonderful daily lifeline.* I took a few days off work and tried to let go of anything that was dragging me down. I tried to float. I cannot be the anchor anymore, I need to be the ship, one with multiple anchors and lifelines.
Is this scary? Hell yes.
Do I feel like an anchor-failure? In
most some ways, yes.
Will I give up completely on being a force of security and stability? No. But I need to make some serious changes if I have any shot of coming out on the other side. And, for right now, that is as much as I can process. I need to be the ship, and I need to (re)identify my anchors.
*Re: medications. Dude! I had NO IDEA people could sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time! I had no idea they could breathe without having to consciously think about it! I had no clue that nausea and panic were not a normal person’s regular bedfellows…and work-fellows…and gym-fellows…and lunchtime-fellows…and Tuesday-fellows (and marshmallows?). I really wish I had known all of this much, much earlier! Better Living Through Chemistry, man. That should be tattooed on my (out-of-whack) chromosomes.