On Saturday, I published a post called “Conscious Aging: Loss of Emotional Anchors”. If you missed the post, you can scroll back. Or, you can use the Search function on the right of any page of the blog and enter “Conscious Aging: Loss of Emotional Anchors” and the post will come up. This post is a sequel, so reading the original first is a good idea.
Apparently this is a tender topic, because it drew more than the usual number of private responses via email. For people who have emotional anchors, it’s hard to contemplate losing them. For people who feel they’ve never had emotional anchors, the post intensified a sense of existential loneliness. The emails I’d like to talk about here went to the point of how much broader the notion of “emotional anchor” is than an individual on whom we rely. I love it when readers push me to think more broadly about something I think I know a lot about.
For some readers, a faith tradition is the primary emotional anchor. That seems to be true whether or not belief in God is part of the equation. Especially for people who belong to faith communities, the emotional anchor is practicing religious traditions that have been practiced by believers for centuries, enhanced by the experience of doing so in community. I think that’s true for Minga’s daughter Daira, who has become part of an Evangelical community in Panama City. Daira now feels part of something, and it has made a huge difference in her life.
For other readers, extended family proves an emotional anchor. For others, a deep web of friends — those readers who talked about friends were all women, and they talked about their women friends. “I wouldn’t have survived without my women friends” is a common theme.
For Minga, I think physical location — her home — is a huge emotional anchor. After her mother died when Minga was five, she moved around a bit, going first to her grandmother who then died, and then to an aunt, and then to another aunt. In her adult life, Minga and her growing number of children moved in and out of homes with the four men with whom she lived serially at one point or another. Once she had her own home, it became a huge centering point in her life. After her death, her wish is that the family keep her home and that they gather there at holidays and for family celebrations. I’m not sure it will happen, but it shows the importance she places on that physical space.
Emotional anchors seems to me an important and powerful topic, so the blog is still open for more comment or private email response.