Let’s conduct an experiment. Stand up if you like to travel. Remain standing if you bring one or more suitcases with you. Remain standing if you over-pack. Good, now if you don’t care if you drag around luggage that weighs 50 pounds or more and don’t care if you pay extra, stay on your feet. Not too many of you left I imagine. Last one. Remain standing if you want to carry that baggage around most of every day with little to no assistance for weeks, months or years at a time. If any of you are left, I would be surprised. Maybe some of you think that you are strong and you can handle it. Maybe you like a challenge. I applaud you. If you aren’t picking up what I’m putting down, I’m talking about the words that no one likes to pick up, mental baggage.
At one point in my career, I was a relationship advisor for Steve and JoAnn Ward of VH-1’s Tough Love and Master Matchmakers. I listened to countless women speak for hours about their previous relationships and the patterns are all the same. Girl meets boy, boy is a jerk, girl stays, boy is even more of a jerk and girl stays begrudgingly. As one girl put it, ‘I keep putting my hand in the fire to see if it still burns, then I put the other hand in and it’s getting to the point of putting my whole body in’. Those burns can and most likely will leave you scarred for a very long time. So it begs the question…why carry or drag around someone else’s mental property when it isn’t necessary? It can become an anchor that weighs you down and sinks you into an emotional abyss.
In relationships, there are things you can tolerate and things that you shouldn’t stand for. Some people have trust issues, mommy and/or daddy issues or lack of or response to affection. Others are afraid of feeling, commitment or getting hurt. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to reach out and save them because most of us feel that we can fix things or people. We try to nurse the wounded ducks back to health and make them better. Admittedly, I was guilty of playing veterinarian a few times but it just left me exhausted and realizing I am not nor do I ever want to be Dr. Doolittle!
The investment must be worth the return. Have you said, if only he would do ABC, he would be perfect and I could really love him or if only she would be into DEF, our relationship would be amazing? It may not always be easy for some to leave the past where it is, especially when it left them empty, drained and bitter. It takes considerable and continuous effort for self-improvement. If there is mutual love and respect for one another’s feelings, people can rise up and grow stronger together. However, as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” After lack of progress, you begin to realize that time spent was one-sided and wasted. You are throwing good money after bad and are officially in a losing proposition. At that point, you can either decide to SELL, SELL, SELL or continue to settle until the losses bleed you dry.
Essentially, relationships are journeys that lead us to many destinations. There are certain places you want to return to as often as possible and those that you never want to go back. If you find yourself on a round-trip vacation from hell more often than not or wish you could leave your significant other at the baggage claim, it’s time to consult a new travel agent. Maybe self-exploration and a toothbrush is the next best destination until you can easily and comfortably pack for two with plenty of room to spare for adding the good stuff!
I wrote this on February 3, 2016 and it is fitting for the idea of baggage/stuff
Dimples and I were not the kind of couple that needed each other every minute of every day. Don’t get me wrong, I would have spent every day with him, but we were both grown ups, with a ton of things on our plates and we were busy. We didn’t see each other every single day although I’m sure at the time both of us would have loved that, it just wasn’t feasible. He had children to take care of and so did I, we both worked full time jobs, had our houses to tend to, bills to pay, “stuff” to deal with and we made the most of every time we were together. I would say on the average we were a one to two time a weeker, plus weekends. Meaning we saw each other one or two nights during the week and definitely on weekends. Friday nights we usually stayed in or got take out or stayed local, Saturday day time we both had “stuff”, Saturday nights we usually went out on the town and being it was fall and football season, we spent most Sunday’s either laying together watching football or surrounded by a bunch of friends and family watching football. The only time we missed watching football all season was for the Broadway show.
It seemed to work really nicely, both our schedules meshing with each other. The weekend after the show rolled around and we had our usual plans to stay in, go out and watch football when I noticed how agitated and anxious Dimples was. Remember a while ago? Back in the beginning of our relationship? The first week or so when Dimples dropped the bomb on me about all his “stuff”? Well his “stuff” was rearing it’s ugly head again into our lives and he was definitely being affected by it. I could tell he was just not there and I didn’t blame him. I can remember back to the time when all my “stuff” was creating havoc for me left and right. I know he was trying to be strong and not let it affect he and I, but how could it not? It was on his mind, it was something he was dealing with behind the scenes every minute of every day and at this point I could tell it was taking it’s toll on him.
I knew he had to put together some things and that he was a little out of sorts because of it, so I offered for us to cancel all our plans and just focus on getting this done, together. He seemed leery at first, but soon enough agreed and we had a plan in motion. He brought over his information and we went point by point, page by page through every last piece. Making sure we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s and after about 9 hours of straight “stuff” we were finished. I could see his shoulders relax and him breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not sure if he was happy it was done with or happy that I had offered to help him. I guess I was a bit more organized than him when it came to handling “stuff” and being I wasn’t all emotionally involved in it, it didn’t really bother me, or so I thought. We got to spend the time together and we accomplished something that was looming over his head. In my mind that was a win/win. Am I ridiculous to think that any time spent together is a win/win? Maybe, but it wasn’t about what we were doing, it was about that we were doing it together. We had become a team.
I did notice however that after that day, after me really knowing the ins and outs of all of his “stuff” it somehow affected me. I was exhausted. I could only imagine how he was feeling. It must be a completely depleting feeling to have to go through “stuff” like that. I had stuff”, I’d had lots and lots of “stuff” and no matter what, that “stuff’ seems to affect all of those close to the person who holds that “stuff” This “stuff”, although I couldn’t admit it to him because that wouldn’t have been fair, but that “stuff” had now affected me. It made me tired, it made me sad, it made me feel for him in a way I hadn’t before. It made me wish I could make it go away, it made me long for giving him peace and safety. It made me feel helpless and unsteady. It’s amazing how our “stuff” is our “stuff” until our “stuff” becomes our significant other’s “stuff” too. I haven’t met anyone without “stuff” at our age. We have all had it, we all carry it with us, we have all let it affect and change us. I guess….that’s just how “stuff” works.
What’s your theory on the baggage you carry around with you every day? Let us know below!