Some of the lessons we learn from childhood are anchors that keep us from drifting out to sea, while other lessons cut off the roots of our ability to explore the world. An anchor, as a boat anchor, needs to be able to come up to the ship so that we can be flexible at times in our lives. If not, we live less than lives.
I had wonderful parents. They made sure that I was well taken care of with food, housing, clothing and education. They taught me that my choices have consequences, and that nobody but myself will either benefit or suffer from these. They also made sure that I had a nuclear family, even though my grandparents were gone long before I was born. I know they loved me, and more than anything wanted to protect me from harm.
One of the biggest lessons they taught me was about was work before fun. Get your work done and the fun is even sweeter. You do not have work and fear of not getting it done hanging over your head. You can go and enjoy your fun knowing that the work is done and not clouding your mind and distracting you from the people and the activity you are engaging in. Unfortunately, this seems to not be a lesson everyone gets.
Another lesson is that there are things you can not take back and do over. You can not take back hurtful actions or words. You can not take back anything you do for the first time to the place of before. The memory of doing the thing will always be there, even if you never do it again. Some of these actions will also totally change your reputation. It only takes one time driving drunk and killing someone for you to earn a different view of yourself, and others to earn a different view of you. You can pay your debt to society, and be forgiven by the families, but the stain of what you did will always be there. Other firsts we can never totally take back are sex, recreational drug use, steps, teeth – some wonderful firsts that propel us into life, and others that have the potential to derail us.
Giving an anchor that does not move can stagnate our lives. One anchor that my mother gave me was that people are dangerous and she even had me believing that there was a boogyman behind every bush, building corner, car just waiting to jump out and harm me. As a child, there was a park not too far from our home in Florida. To go to the small market and get my treat with my allowance, I had to walk by this park. The bushes were a good ten to twenty yards back from the sidewalk, small, and easily to see through. Yet my palms would sweat, my heart would beat faster, and I always ran by this even with my friends to get to the market. I always tried to play it off as I was in a hurry to get there. Halloween was the most terrifying holiday. I tried to act brave, but was sure every costumed person was out to abduct me.
Another place that I was terrified of was the wooded area and creek behind our apartment in Iowa when we first moved in. The most terrifying thing ever was when I would have to go and get my brother to come in for the night from there. I was sure not only he was dead, but I would never find him, and would either die on the way there or leaving. A painful death. And my body would never be found.
As a small child, this made me have nightmares almost every night. I never knew what abducting would result in, but I knew it was not good, would hurt and separate me from my family. As an older child, it made me fearful that I was going to be raped and murdered in such a way that would be gruesome, and I would bring shame on my family with a headline of “Girl Raped and Murdered Because She Walked By a Bush”.
Irrational? Absolutely. The fears that my mother had also imprisoned her until the day she died. In fact, they got worse as she aged. In my life, because I have double and tripled questioned if people are good or toxic in my life, I have been held captive in relationships that were toxic to me, and let relationships slip by that would be wonderful. Ahh, the power of an anchor firmly planted in the sea floor that you never exercise the use of the wench to bring it up and let the boat of life move a little. Turn to see what is on the other side, or get close to land so that it can see something different. Never to explore the rest of the ocean. Just stay in port all the time. Storms come, and you do not outrun them. Nope, you just stay and are bombarded by the wind, waves and other ships that are off anchor and tossed as rubbish.
We give our children many great gifts in teaching limits. We need to also give them the gift of how to explore and take care of themselves. Sometimes, they need to lift the anchor, even if it is not like we would. The world is ever changing. The world has many wonderful people and places. If we are afraid to go, then we are missing a lot, and worse than that, we are in harms way.