Finding Anchors: Others Ground Us

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When I pull back the aperture from the grind of my journey towards change, I see clearly the catalysts that propelled me forward. The catalysts were the people who came and went or remain in my life that left an indelible mark. 

If you have been following along as I’ve deconstructed my journey through stuttering over the last week, it should be clear that each essay has revealed a tangible part of how I cultivated lasting change. However, finding an anchor, or a few, was never something I knew that I had done yet was vital to healing.

What is an anchor?

Someone who is in our inner circle. A confidant, parent(s), sibling(s), spouse, significant other, best friend(s), mentor, or anyone that you trust who stands by your side through anything. These people provide stability or confidence amidst uncertainty. They ground us in reality, listen when we succeed and fail, and show unwavering support for our growth. 

What does this have to do with stuttering?

Stuttering divides, isolates, and sequesters us in our own comfort zones where we only validate that which we see and feel, regardless if it is wrong. 

I lived in my own world. Stuttering influenced every second of my life, and while others around me didn’t know how to help me shed its vice grip, they were there all along if I needed them. The problem was I never knew they were there.

My mom and dad, older brother, grandparents, childhood friends, speech-language pathologists, and, most recently, my wife. Recognizing they were even there brought on a deeper level of awareness that dispelled the myth of isolation and loneliness that stuttering foisted upon me. 

I had more support alongside of me at every step of the way than I thought. 

Hidden behind this myth was my ability to keep them around long enough to develop impactful relationships. I saw that my participation in these relationships wasn’t entirely passive, and were not one sided despite what the experience of stuttering made me believe. I had let others in and others gravitated towards me, and we connected deeply even if what I felt as loneliness and isolation. 

Stuttering made me believe I needed more out of my relationships for them to be fulfilling. 

How did becoming aware of the anchors in my life change the trajectory of my journey towards change?

When I realized their importance, I set out to show them. I started with my girlfriend who became my wife, then my brother, and, finally, my parents. In these relationships, I was more open, honest, and vulnerable than I had ever been previously, which strengthened our connections. 

How was I more open, honest, and vulnerable?

I communicated the truth about what I had been through and what I was going throughsee the other essays for a full description of my journey to rock bottom. I broke down the barriers to connection that stuttering had put up. It took a lot out of me physically and emotionally to face the shame and begin to craft a new narrative between us. But, when I took the risk, it solidified their presence in my life as anchors that grounded me. 

How did this unfold in real life?

With my girlfriend, I had a fresh start and I led with stuttering. Stuttering showed my character and resilience, and provided a story that I knew well to connect deeply with her. There was no stuttering deficit to make up for and I hid nothing. She embraced all of me with open arms. 

With my brother, I reestablished our childhood bond by pulling him into my journey. I had used triathlon to accelerate healing, build self-confidence, and breakthrough my fears. I did the same with him. We completed an Ironman together which showed him who I had become and changed our relationship forever. 

With my parents, I confronted the years of shame that had impeded a closer connection. I held nothing back and revealed things to them that stuttering did not allow them to fully understand. I talked to them more. I wrote out in cards what stuttering and shame prevented me from properly articulating. By any means possible, I made it clear who I had become. 

This is where I am now. I’m still working on establishing my anchors of support and to allow them to ground me in reality. 

There is an underlying current that is coming to light out of this effort. It is coalescing around the act of living in service to others and becoming irreplaceable to those around you. I hope to continue exploring this dynamic as it evolves in my own life.     

Look around you and see who has been or is already there in your life. It is likely that you’re less alone than you believe, and taking small steps towards illuminating these relationships that you do have can quickly reveal their importance to changing your life. 

Find your anchor(s) and watch how powerful they become. 

I would not be where I am without mine.

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