Know Your Harbor

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Jake's Harbor, by Jake Sandomen

“My son Jake drew this in school – It’s Jake’s Harbor. If you could build your own harbor what would you put in it?” – Facebook update from Dawn Sandomeno.

You know what motivational speakers forget to tell you?  Personal growth sucks.  I mean, the benefits of personal growth don’t suck, but the actual growing and changing is a lot of hard work.  And it might not make you break a sweat, but it will mentally and emotionally exhaust you.

If you spend any amount of time taking a really close look at yourself and your life, your most fragile fears and insecurities will come to the surface.

And that is not fun.

There have been countless times when I have questioned everything I am and every decision I’ve made about my life.  I’ve been scared and ugly and broken and unloved and  sick and tired of trying to be better and do more.

These are the times when I just need to sit, rest, and be reassured that I am already more than enough.

I thought of these dark moments of swirling doubts when I saw Jake’s picture of his harbor.  For ships, a harbor is a place of rest, protection and refueling.  They don’t stay in the harbor forever, but only a foolish sailor tries to survive without knowing where to find the closest port.  Harbors are a necessary respite from the adventures of the open sea.

Ships do not consider themselves weak because they need to pull into a harbor.

If you’re intent on challenging yourself to pursue happiness and seek the next best thing, you’d better know where your harbors are.  You better have the good sense to use them when you’re running on empty.

Where do you go for rest?  What refills you with joy? Who can you ask to reassure and validate you when you’ve become your own worst critic?

I find peace at the beach and joy in my children.  I turn to my husband when I’m afraid of what I see in the mirror.  I can’t ask leading questions because I’ll lead us both right off a cliff when I’m like that, but I can tell him, “I’m feeling insecure and I need you to tell me that you love me and I’m brave and wonderful.”  And he will. (And no, it isn’t any less effective because I’ve fed him his lines.)

My harbors have saved me and renewed me over and over again.

There are limits to how far we can go without rest. We all have times when we need to be protected, even if it’s just from our own pushing and pulling at the edges of our identities. None of us can sustain a constant pursuit of anything - not even happiness.  We are, after all, only human.

Where are your harbors?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Miss Britt, allisonsreading. allisonsreading said: Miss Britt: Know Your Harbor http://bit.ly/gSXFGQ [...]

  2. I love it! You are so wise – this is a great post.

  3. the muskrat says:

    In the bottom of a glass of Basil Hayden with ice. At least, it was.

    I’m not sure where they are now…we’re working on that. I know it’s NOT in our house. Maybe in our yard? Yes, I like being in the yard.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I was going to say something about the place not being important, but I think that’s crap. Our physical environment can definitely have an impact on how we feel.

      I hear your closets are nice…

  4. Megan says:

    I don’t know. My mother? You’ve stumped me.

  5. Mandi Bone says:

    My kids,Greg, and Walt Disney World.

  6. Avitable says:

    I’m stumped, too. My harbors are unhealthy ones, like chocolate and greasy food. I don’t have any that are mentally AND physically healthy.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Would this be an inappropriate time for me to mention something about quality over quantity again?

      It’s hard for me to imagine food as a safe harbor. But I guess shopping totally has been for me in the past, and that’s not much different.

  7. i’m pretty easy…time with any of my aunts, friends, cousins or dogs.
    or a walk through the strip district in pittsburgh.
    or a few minutes at the carnegie museum of pittsburgh, in front of one of monet’s waterlilies.

    way to make me miss my momma…

  8. I love this. I know exactly where my harbours are, and am so grateful for them.

    *harbours with a U* :)

  9. Sheila says:

    I’ve never thought of it in terms of a “harbor” but my husband is definitely my rock/anchor…..is that the same thing as a harbor?

    I hope so.

    Unfortunately, he is never fucking home when I *really* need him because of working the night shift.

    I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the creators of Dr. Pepper, Fudge Rounds and, of course, the Marlboro Man.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Yeah, I think so. :-)

      I HATE those moments when everyone you need is unavailable and not answering their phone and… well… I think that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet.

  10. Lisa says:

    Mine is my husband. When I need time away from him it’s my girlfriends. Honestly, though, I love being alone, maybe because I don’t get that very often. When I really need down time I take off for a day by myself and go to Tahoe, or just drive, and that seems to get my head screwed on right better than anything else.

  11. Sue says:

    Very nice post! Great writing.

  12. Nancy says:

    Steve and the kids are my harbors. They have a sense of knowing when I need an extra hug, cuddle, or to be told that I’m pretty, fun, or nice just when I need to hear it most.

  13. Michelle says:

    Mine are my best friends and my dog. I don’t often talk about it, but I’ve been through hell the last five years personally. If it weren’t for my friends who listen and reassure me and the unconditional love of my best friends and puppy, I probably wouldn’t have been able to still be reasonably sane mentally. The hardest thing for me, since I’m so used to being a harbor for others, is to admit when I need one of my own.

    • Miss Britt says:

      “The hardest thing for me, since I’m so used to being a harbor for others, is to admit when I need one of my own.”

      YES.

      I think a lot of “strong” people struggle with this.

  14. Faiqa says:

    My husband, my kids, my very close friends, a good book, and Law and Order SVU. I don’t know why, but that last one always seems to bring me out of a slump.

  15. Lizzard72 says:

    My hubby, girlfriends, curling up with the toddler and napping. But I know I don’t stop enough.

    Thanks for making me weep a bit!

  16. [...] only answer is in my own truth, one that is being unraveled more deeply than before. As she said, If you spend any amount of time taking a really close look at yourself and your life, your [...]

  17. Fiona says:

    What a great concept! Definitely one I will remind myself of often.

    My harbors are currently: My son’s infectious laugh, my best friends kitchen, listening to lyrics that make me feel, and baking bread.

  18. Emmalee says:

    WOW! Such an excellent posting. Thank you! I really needed that. My time with God is my harbor. Unfortunately, sometimes I get “too busy” to spend a few quiet moments with Him…seems crazy once I actually type it out… I also savor time with my two young grandsons age 5 and almost 1 :) They are so precious to me! I make it a point to plan absolutely nothing else when they come see me. I wish I would have done that more often with my own kids.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I hear that a lot from grandparents, that the difference is being able to just spend time with them like you can’t do when your own kids are young.

  19. I love it! Personal growth does suck! Especially the transition- but it’s SO worth it!

  20. anymommy says:

    My husband. Two or three fabulous girlfriends … and honestly? So long as I don’t screw it up by posting TMI or getting petty, my blog. I find it’s a restful, pretty, supportive space for me emotionally and mentally.

« « Life Lessons from Sand Sculptors | On Getting Rid Of My Shoes » »