Dragging Baggage

18f8d6bbabeadaf291971b7c3a5dd3edIt is all too often true we carry all our baggage with us everywhere we go, dragging it behind on wheels run down and bare from all the use they have seen.  If we reach any age at all, with any experience at all we have baggage it is impossible for any of us too get through life without it. What we do with all that luggage though, how we handle it that is an entirely different issue.

Fundamentally, I am a good person. I am kind, generous and loving to my family and friends.

That is how I would like to think of myself most of the time. My life hasn’t always been simple, nor has it always been easy. It has left me a bit banged up, physically and emotionally. I have a just a few scars; some of them are very visible, left on my body so every single time I look in the mirror I see them. When I see those scars, when I look at them in the mirror, my first reaction is to close my eyes, turn away as I think others would do when first gazing on them. Other scars, they aren’t so visible left on my heart and soul, though sometimes I think when I look in the mirror I see them too.

My reality is I am frequently less than secure about both my physical appearance and how lovable or deserving of love I am.

Recently I had to confront some of my baggage. One of the problems I have is acknowledging that anyone would be interested in what is on my mind, what might be truly bothering me and why anyone would care. For so long, for most of my life, my needs and concerns have taken a backseat to everyone else’s and I have been the caretaker. I have taken care of everyone else, I have been the breadwinner, the responsible one the person who had to be ‘strong’, even when I was the one injured I had to be strong for everyone around me. I got use to never asking for help. It became ingrained in me too not show weakness, not give in to fear and not talk about my feelings or ask for what I needed.

I learned I did not matter. I think what I learned is ‘I’ did not exist except to make other people’s lives easier.060410-travel1-kristen

That is a terrible lesson; it is a very hard truth to drag behind you on wobbly wheels with a bent frame. This is especially true when as a human being the natural instinct is to reject that lesson, to fight the loss of ‘I’, to want to be seen and heard, even when we might not know how to raise our hand or our voice. My instinct when something is wrong? To retreat into my head, if asked give half answers or no answer at all safe in the knowledge no one is interested, instead, they are asking just to be polite. Until very recently, this has been mostly the case. Conversations, even with friends and family have tilted toward one of two types. Either competitive ‘my pain is worse than yours’ where no matter what I said it always ended up about them, their pain, their sadness, their hardships. The other style is always the fixer, the person who listens to half of what I say and tells me how to fix it, in the process blames me for the problem. In both cases of course, they don’t really hear me aren’t really listening and clearly don’t really give two tinkers damn about how I feel, thus over the years I have learned it is far easier to simply live inside my head.

When we love, we offer our whole selves even the baggage. What we hope for is we can explain why it exists and that someone will help us drag it along behind us.

What is unexpected is, someone who loves us back and enough to say drop the baggage I am not your past or your bellhop; forcing us to confront our history and examine our behaviors in new light.

Our luggage often includes insecurities, bad behaviors and false fronts. If we are forced to lay down our baggage, open it up and throw out all the old ratty stuff we have packed away it can be a painful experience, even while we are lightening our load. We are not our insecurities, though they may have made up the extra weight they are not who we are at the core, they are simply what was added over the years by others. This was one of my hard lessons recently, I don’t know that it is entirely learned I am still insecure. I am still me, my history still lives firmly in my head and the voices still whisper, ‘not worthy, not lovable’. Nevertheless, I am learning slowly those voices are my history not my present and they are liars. I am learning also it is okay to be afraid, to show some weakness and to say I am both I am learning I don’t have to always be strong, I think this one is even harder to learn for me. I have spent so many years guarded, so many years not crossing emotional lines; I am still finding my way through this one.

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When I started this blog, I did so to give myself a release valve, for my thinking, my feelings, my history even. What I found was so much more, including the potential of love. Now I just have to learn to let my history go, let myself be loved and let my demons dance the way they deserve without the impediment of baggage.

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