Tuesday, November 22, 2005


One of the Weight Watchers "Tools for Living", a collection of inspiration and real-life tactics for weight and life management, is something they refer to as anchoring. Find an item, they say, that has intrinsic meaning to you. Carry that item with you as a visual representation of your commitment to your goal. When you feel yourself slipping, bring out that anchor to help set you back on track. Many have found this to be an effective method of keeping their focus.

I was reminded of this recently when talking to Rick, a friend and coworker, about relationships and compatibility. Raised by rambunctious families of Italian origin, and driven by boundless energy, it takes a certain type of person to put up with the likes of the two of us. I surmised that those similar to us would be best suited with a partner who is calmer; someone that can pull us back if we propel ourselves too far into orbit.

"So," he said to me, "you're looking for an anchor, right ?"

Am I ? That question stopped me in my tracks.

Do I truly need an anchor ?

And must that anchor be another person ?

Inner stregth. Trust in oneself. Healthy outlets for stress. All these are tools that we, as adults, often use to ground ourselves in times of emotional turmoil. An anchor, if we have one, can be a tactile reminder of the strength within. But the strength itself cannot originte from the outside. When one "needs" another person to keep them grounded, it means that one's own inner fortitude is missing.

My anchor cannot be another person. My anchor must be myself.

There are times that I have faltered. There are times that I have experienced the agony of emotional upheaval; the sleepless nights, the hours of pacing, the tears of grief. I have lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling, unable to even close my eyes. I have buried my face into my pillow and sobbed uncontrollably, stopping only when I could not muster the strength to continue. In dark times such as these, everyone - all of us who who feel emotion, all of us who are human - need and reach out for the love and support of those around us. I am fortunate to have this, with the friends and family that I am blessed to be surrounded by. It is these great people, their support and unconditional love, that has helped me to right myself, to face the next day with courage, and to lift up my chin and push on, even in the face of grief and pain.

Our friends, our families, and our loved ones are those that can provide strength and inspiration in times of need. Their strength is not the source of ours; rather, it supplements that which already exists within us. Such is the distinction between relationships based on mutual respect and equality, and those based on insecurity and need. One is healthy, the other is not.

I have a little keychain, in the shape of a 10, that was given to me by my Weight Watchers leader after I lost 10% of my starting weight. All members who achieve that milestone receive one. Mine is now adorned with the small golden Lifetime Membership key that signifies reaching my goal. This keychain is a symbol; it is a reminder of my ongoing journey of healthy living. Yes, it is my anchor, but it is not the source of my strength.

The source of my strength is within me.

It is the trust that I now have in myself for the first time in my life. It is the self-assurrance, the security, and the inner fortitude I have built over the last four years of self-discovery and renewal. It is the confidence that I, with the support of those around me, can weather any storm that I face.

The keychain is a token that reminds me of the journey so far.

And, it is a symbol of hope for the future that lies ahead.


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