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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

What grounds you?

Nala & Delphi are my tethers

When I read submissions for A Tether to This World: Poems & Stories of Recovery, I didn't quite know what I was looking for, but one thing on my mind was finding the tethers to the world that the writer had discovered for themselves. This was, after all, about mental health recovery, the coping mechanisms and joys these writers or their loved ones had found - or made - for themselves.

As I wrote in the introduction to that book, the idea of finding tethers to the world came from Hannah Gadsby's Netflix special, "Nanette." She talks about the stranger who'd told her she shouldn't be on anti-depressants, that artists need to feel, and we wouldn't have "The Sunflowers" if Vincent van Gogh was medicated (as she pointed out, of course he was). To conclude the special, she says "Do you know why we have the Sunflowers? It isn't because Vincent van Gogh suffered. It's because he had a brother who loved him, a tether, a connection to the world." I thought of a literal tether, a rope or scarf or something to keep someone from floating away. And I thought about that, my connections to the world, what keeps me grounded.

The love of my husband, dogs, and cat, my family, so many good friends (including Eddy, who once said to me, "Let me know if you need to throw rocks at the world," and I think about that when I'm ready to throw rocks.), the beauty of my home in the Mad River Valley and the Green Mountains that surround, there are things that bring me joy, like snowboarding and swimming in the river and ice cream, things worth living for. And so, if I'm having a hard time, I think of my tethers, the people and things who keep me grounded and alive.

I'd had times I felt I was floating off the earth - manic, confused, scared - and times I'd been so low it was hard to want to live. But I had tethers, people who loved me, and they kept me on this earth, even if they didn't know it.

The contributors to A Tether to This World shared their tethers, such as birding, online communities, and children. These things helped them into recovery from trauma and whatever their struggles may have been.

What are your tethers? What keeps you connected to the world?

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