Baggage? Me? What Baggage? When emotional baggage gets in the way of a good relationship…

Microsoft PowerPoint - Emotional Baggage Poster We carry our stories with us but say we don’t. We call it standing up for ourselves, loving ourselves because we went through hell and came out stronger, resilient, and happy. We now know what love is, and what it isn’t. We grew strong out of our experiences. Thanks to our perseverance, courage, and tenacity, we succeeded because of them.

But the truth is we never let it go. We are still carrying our stories in our hearts like a heavy shield. We pull it out every time we feel at risk for being hurt again. The mistakes they made to us were horrible, but we forgave them because we love them- because we “know unconditional love.” And they graciously take that forgiveness and move forward. They are humble, but happy and move on. As if it never happened.  But we don’t. We say we’ve moved on. But we only moved on in our head- not our heart. We take their failures, and their stories from their past and keep it with us, thinking it’s a reminder of how much we love them.

We are amazing women! We have conquered so much! We have overcome so much and have learned so much from it. And we are women with instinct. Motherly instinct. We treat those we love with a sense of protection. As if we are their parents needing to remind them how to apply our knowledge to their own lives. But for who? For them? Or for ourselves?

When they make mistakes, we lovingly, compassionately look at them as if they were our children and say to ourselves, “Yes, I will forgive that. Yes, I will love him in spite of that. Look at me, I am so loving.” We wanted that when we were children. We wanted that unconditional love and compassion, but we never got it, so we set our minds to make sure it happens now- towards our own children and the men (or women) we love.

But when our partners make a mistake we take out our bag of stories we have on them and try to connect them… and scared that these mistakes are going to ruin us like the mistakes our parents and exes of the past have, we cling to our shield and say “No!” We see it as being justified, being smart, and learning from the past, but did we really forgive them? Did we really move on? Did we really let the past go and jump hand in hand to the future.

Maybe he’s right (even though it seems so wrong!) What would it be like if I didn’t hold on to this bag of stories? Maybe it’s ok to trust him, to put my shield down, and to release the grasp I hold on to my stories. “No!” I tell myself. “I must hold on to them! They are what keep me alert and protect me from harm. I must not let myself be victimized ever again! I have come too far for this!”

Wait…is this what I am telling myself about this man that I trust and love? This man that has seen my emotional baggage and still let me carry it- a man that has proven himself over and over again that I can trust him. A man that holds my hand and says with his actions and words that it is ok to put that baggage down, but if you want to carry it a little while longer, I will still love you.

We aren’t the children we were before. The struggles we went through at that time do not and will not have the same effect on us anymore. The reality of those fears is different because we aren’t those innocent beaten abused and neglected girls we once were. We are going to be ok. Maybe he needs us to trust him, put down your shield, and truly forgive him. He won’t be perfect. He will make mistakes. But you are safe. Take his hand and jump with him in full support. Let go of your bags (bags we didn’t even realize we were clinging to). They aren’t meant for you to hold any longer.

We have been through a lot in life, and have gained so much information. It’s in our DNA now. We know it and can recite it, and can preach and inspire with it, and now it is time to apply it in our own lives… And that’s scary. But it’s those scary moments that are the catalyst for change. Those are the moments that will open the way to teach us how to apply it in our daily lives. Moment by moment.

After what has happened to cause this sore part in our relationship, we don’t know how things will work out (if it works out) IBut if anything, you will walk away a different person. We can say we did, indeed, fearlessly, walk our talk.

Oh, and I can’t say it enough: if it’s a relationship worth keeping, couple’s counseling is always a good place to start. Communication is key (and goes hand in hand with putting your shield down and opening up to your loved one).  Healing starts now.

DISCLAIMER: THIS DOES NOT, I REPEAT, DOES NOT, IN ANY WAY, AND NEVER WILL BE APPLICABLE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE YOU MUST FIND A SAFE PLACE AND SEEK HELP. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR VIOLENCE.

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