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Lifeboats by Noreen Heffernan, Writer

Lifeboats by Noreen Heffernan, Writer, Bergen County Moms

“If my boat was sinking, I would want you in my lifeboat, forever.” That was a quote from a Netflix show I was binging last week. And it got me thinking about this concept of lifeboats. If my boat was sinking, I would want my family in it. Easy. It is a simple concept. But then it started growing arms and legs. It started taking flight. It is not a simple thought because these are not simple times. The concept of the lifeboat is massive and ever-changing and something I couldn’t fully grasp on my own. Why paint it with one brush, one color? Why not paint it with all the colors.

Dr. Lukin of the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy discussed this topic with me. He said, the lifeboat is the place where you feel connected to the most important people. It is a place where your emotional needs are met. They are the people to rise to the challenge. You can’t feel close to others from your thoughts alone, (how they look, what they wear) you must feel emotionally connected on a deeper level. This emotional connection gives us a bigger picture of who we are. “Lifeboats” are the places where you are safe, a priority and you are accepted.

I started thinking about what it all means to me. It isn’t one thing, one situation, one boat. For me, it is many boats. Who do I turn to when my children are terrors? Who do I need when I’m having a low moment? Who do I call when a child is sick? Who gives me life when I’m feeling down on myself? Who is there when I need a big belly laugh? My lifeboats fill the ocean; some are big, and some are small. They are filled with different people for different scenarios. And sometimes it is the company of one, me. I have always been aware of my emotional needs and they are met in different ways, checking off different boxes and sometimes, they are from completely different people. All I know is that I want to leave someone or somewhere better than when I arrived. If I leave feeling lower or down on myself, I know they don’t belong on my boat. Deep conversations, laughter, understanding, and connection all find a place in my lifeboat.

Knowing how big this concept was, made me want to dive deeper. After all, that is part of my lifeboat, the need for understanding and connection. So, I turned to you, to paint it, give it wings and let it fly.

Monica Lauro, a mother of two says, “I think about my lifeboats, the people who have kept me from sinking and always seem to reach out at just the right moment.”

Have you ever had that person that texts you or calls exactly when you need it? That person is connected on such a deep level, it is almost as if they are in tune with you. Those people are special. Those people create such a sense of safety and support, they will hold your hand, and pull you up, exactly when you need it.

Priya Malhotra a Glen Rock resident says, “my lifeboats carry me to safe harbor through turbulent waters. Lifeboats force choices. We choose to leave the burden of material possessions and worry behind and carry with us, only the relationships which are at once light and uplifting.”

This is a very special belief of leaving it all behind; only take with you, those that truly matter. This is where the concept of the lifeboat took shape. Sometimes the “things” we crave or the people we think we want to love us, weigh us down, like weights hanging from our ankles. Take with you, only those who bring light. Simplify. Suddenly, when the extra weight is gone, the boat is light, and you are sailing toward the sunset.

Sharon Tishco, a lawyer and mother of three says, “my lifeboat is connection. What fulfills me are my meaningful friendships-it’s the feeling that I matter to someone.”

Sharon piggybacks on Dr. Lukin’s point. Sharon’s emotional need is to feel accepted and her lifeboat are those people who rise to the occasion. These people and emotional connections that bring her safety and comfort. The notion of her lifeboat is knowing we are all in this together and being there for each other. It is what will save her when she is sinking. As it does for Carolina Kaplan; she finds her lifeboat to be “close, steel-iron friends.”

Sometimes it is someone else who will be there and sometimes it can be a lifeboat of one. There are moments for me when my lifeboat is myself, away from others, and that is how I recharge.

Alison Pappalardo’s words of wisdom bring up that point. She says, “spending ten minutes a day being still and quiet has helped me listen to my thoughts and emotions, feel what I’m feeling, and find space to hold it all so I can be better to myself and better with the ones I love.”

Emotional needs can be met all on your own. Sometimes it is better to look within for answers. Sometimes the person who can save you the most, is yourself. Or, it can be used as a means to an end, an escape.

Amy Finn, a mother of three says “it really is the simple things that keep me afloat, music, a good book, and the beach. That’s kind of all I need.”

See, when I first thought of writing about this concept, I thought of a sinking ship and bringing only the people who matter. But, as I spoke more about it, it morphed and changed to much, much more. It became the notion of how we feel as people in these days. And the string that weaves us all together into a beautiful fabric is that of knowing who we are. I loved hearing what everyone else thought about when they heard the word “lifeboats.” I love that they knew so much about themselves that they easily found the meaning that worked for them. I love how it meant different things to different people. As Dr. Lukin says, knowing our emotional needs helps us know who we are on a deeper level.

As Lauren Haughs quoted to me just this morning, from a show we are both currently binge watching, “don’t go wide, go deep.”

That means, don’t seek as many people as possible. Don’t try to have this big boat of fillers, bringing water in from the edges. In the end, knowing yourself and what you need is the air in that boat, and it will be the only factor that will keep you afloat. And the people who fulfill those needs are the people who you want with you through the crystal clear blue seas but mostly through the rough, muddy waters and beyond.

Noreen Heffernan, Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR , Writer, Growing Ladies and Beautycounter Consultant,