Check Your Bags: Claim Your Emotional Baggage

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“Do I remind you of him?”

I was sitting on the bed talking to my then boyfriend. We were talking about our fathers and the traits we picked up from them. Some of them were great, some not so much. He was staring at me intently awaiting my answer.

Of course he did. I looked away for a second.

“Not at all silly.”

That’s when I knew we were doomed.

After the breakup, I remember wailing aloud to Robyn in the shower and crying the ugliest, sappiest, snottiest cry I’ve ever done in my life. I was heartbroken…but I wasn’t surprised. In fact, immediately after we broke up, I was relieved. While I was pretending that everything was great when we were together I was stressing out internally. I was depressed. I’ve never found it hard to see people for what they are but I like to grant them the benefit of the doubt anyways. Often times they prove me right and go along repeating destructive patterns but sometimes my intentional naiveté is just the space they need to grow and transform. This was not one of those situations. There was mama drama, family drama, communication problems, a lack of emotional development, unresolved personal issues, and years of baggage that I saw clear as day. But I still went forward with it. *Sigh* I know!

I wanted into the secret club of twentysomethings that had already met “the one.” You know the ones that seem so stupid perfect in their Facebook pictures? I wanted that security because I didn’t feel secure in any other part of my life. I forfeit my happiness for the appeasement of other people. I was that same little girl who just wanted to fit in with everyone else. But at what cost?

As I leaned against the tile of the shower I realized that, even if only in a small degree, I brought this on myself. I knew we’d never last, I knew there were more than a few fundamental, major things in his life I didn’t agree with, but I pursued it anyways. He had his problems but I clearly had mine if I was so desperate to choose him.  I wasn’t going to spend this break-up blaming someone I no longer had any connection or relationship with. I was going to focus on the most important relationship I had —the one with my self.

So I cracked myself open, I looked back at all the relationships I’ve had before. Boyfriends, friends, crushes, everything. It was more than a little terrifying to see the patterns come to light. The fact that I’m attracted to anger and brokenness. The fact that I do so out of a crappy sense of self-worth. The fact that what I truly wanted was in a different world compared to what I had been accepting. It all came down to me. I might not have caused those people to be antagonists but I allowed them to antagonize me because I believed that’s what I deserved. At the end of the day, I could blame as many people as I wanted but I was the common denominator.

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Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to call out someone else’s faults but not our own? What we hate in others is usually what we’re afraid to acknowledge in ourselves. It’s not fun but it is enlightening.  We promise we’ll never be like our parents but focus so intently on it we transform into them almost overnight. It’s time to stop deflecting our pain and hurts onto other people and reflect on who we are and who we want to be. We need to really examine what we’ve held onto and why we’ve let it get in the way of healthy relationships and choices.

I looked back at some of my journal entries and created the Check Your Bags Worksheets just for you to help with self-reflection.  It’s completely free because I think it’s important to know the baggage we carry and even more important to claim it. Even though I’ve done similar type exercises, I did this again and was surprised by how something so simple illuminated some underlying issues for me. My sincere hope is that it helps you too. Work through these worksheets and let me know how it helps you. Please remember to not be too hard on yourself during this as well. Believe me, accountability will push you forward but harsh criticism will only hold you back. Be gentle!

As always my loves, feel better, do better, and be better.

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