Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who Are You Towing?

By Julie Rahm                                                  
The word tow is a verb. It means to draw or pull along behind. Generally, tow comes in two flavors. One flavor of tow is a transitive verb, for example, to tow a wagon. The other flavor of tow is intransitive, as in “the wagon is in tow”. Got that? I thought I understood all I needed to know about towing until my husband John earned a Towing Endorsement with his Captain’s License. In our home, when John is learning something, everyone gets a small dose. So, I learned a bit about towing boats.
As I understand it, there are four ways to tow another boat. The most straightforward is to pull from the front using a rope or cable called a hawser. A variation of that is when a barge is attached directly to the back of a tug without a hawser. After those two methods, there is pushing. And lastly, there is hip towing where the tug is alongside the barge. And, if I didn’t get all that exactly correct, my advance apologies to Captain Jim Holley at Oriental’s World Wide Marine Training Center. Please refer all towing questions to his school! Anyway, I begin with towing to tell you this.
In life, we are all tug boats. In some form, those closest to us become attached. It happens in a lot of different ways. Most common are marriage and parenthood. Our spouses and children are attached to us much like barges to a tug. The real question becomes how your barges are attached to you. And, how much energy are you using to move them along?
As a recent example, I have a new client whose husband has been out of work for years. Out in front, she has been the tug and he has been the barge trailing along behind. Adding more challenge to the relationship, he is verbally abusive. So, metaphorically, she tows him along with a long hawser so he doesn’t get too close. She pulls him at a distance without the intimacy found in a good relationship. She expends a lot of energy to keep him moving along behind her.
Another of my clients is a father who “tows” his adult children from behind. His grown children are firmly tied off in front. He is conducting a push tow for them. His children are perfectly content to expend no energy to move along in life. This father must operate his engine at maximum throttle to keep everyone moving. While his adult children ride comfortably in front of the tow, this father works three jobs to provide parental welfare.
Don’t misunderstand. Everyone needs a pull or a push once in awhile. But, towing should be an occupation not a lifestyle. So my point this week is to create a measure of awareness. Take some pause to see, as the tug, who is “hawsered” to you? And, if you are tired of towing, visit my website at 

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