Find Your Anchors
Find Your Anchors
I first learned about finding my anchors in IOP (Intensive Out-Patient) treatment. It was one of the tools my therapist told me about to keep me grounded in my early days of sobriety. At the time, I thought it was a silly idea. Finding three things that would keep me grounded, and keep me going when I wanted to drink? Yeah, right. But, as time went on, I found those anchors kept me going after all.
An anchor, in literal terms, is a huge piece of steel or metal, with two hooks on either side. They are used to literally anchor a boat in one place in open water. Sailors and boaters alike use them when they want to stay in one place for a time. If the wind comes up, and starts to pull the boat one way or the other, the anchor holds the boat steady. The hooks then come into play by sinking into the sea or ocean bottom, the dirt, to keep the anchor from drifting.
Anchors in sobriety act much the same way. Imagine for a moment that you are a boat. You’re in your first few days or months of sobriety, and the waters of life are choppy around you. You feel the winds of craving, stress, and fear trying to pull you off course. A friend comes in the wind and offers you a drink. The water splashes over the rail and tries to pull you overboard. Those are the times when you need an anchor, or multiple anchors, to hold you in place.
These anchors can be any number of things. For example, I chose faith, fellowship, and friends as my anchors when I was in early sobriety.
This is a canvas I painted with my anchor words: Faith, Fellowship, Friends
My faith in a Higher Power was my anchor when I was alone, and didn’t have anyone to turn to. When the phone looked like it weighed a thousand pounds, and I couldn’t muster the courage to call or text someone. In those times, I turned to my Higher Power for help. Sometimes it was a simple, one word prayer, “help”. Other times, it was a big, long prayer, like talking to a friend. But, no matter how big or small my prayer was, I always felt better after.
The fellowship, my 12 Step group, was my anchor when I was feeling down. It gave me a sturdy place to go when those voices in my head would not shut the fuck up, and I didn’t have the power to fend them off. I would think to myself “If I can make it through this next hour or two, I will be able to go to a meeting and feel better”. Knowing I had somewhere to go gave me courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The fellowship was also my lighthouse. While I was out in the open water, being thrown around by the winds of craving, stress, and fear, the fellowship was there, sending out a beacon of hope. Each flash of light sent the message “hang in there. We are here for you”.
My Friends were an anchor, because at that time, I had real friends. Friends who gave a fuck about my well-being. Friends who cared if I lived or died. They thought enough of me to ask me how I was doing.
My sponsor was my first real friend in sobriety. He would ask me how I was, and then ask how I really was when I would say “fine”. My friends and my sponsor wanted me to succeed. They loved me until I could love myself. They cared about me, and took the time to listen to my woes. They also cared enough about me to say “You’ve done enough bitching. Now, pull your head out of your ass and start taking some action”.
Today my anchors are pretty much still the same. I continue to have faith in a Higher Power. I continue to rely on the fellowship. And, I continue to look to my friends when I feel the wind starting to pull me away. But, today I can also be an anchor for someone else. I can be that friend to someone who is hurting. I can be a channel for my Higher Power, and carry a message to someone that needs it. Being able to be an anchor for someone else is a blessing to me today.
So, what are your anchors? They don’t have to be spectacular. Keep it simple. Pick three things, people, or ideas that you know will keep you grounded when you’re out at sea, and the waters of life start throwing you around. Write them down on a piece of paper to carry with you. Or, if you’re an artist, paint your anchor words on a canvas, like I did. Whatever you choose as your anchors, make sure they are visible, and available to look at when you start to flounder.
If you have your anchors in place already, share in the comments below. I’d love to hear what your anchors are!
In the meantime, happy sailing my friends!