We were walking down 13th street towards city hall and he and I were both checking out the same guy. And of course MM inquired about who I was seeing or not seeing and of course I checked in on things with him and his guy. He assured me they were good, they had a great trip recently to upstate New York, and then he talked about the reality of relationships. Heck the reality of life. That’s when he dropped those two sentences that after eight years I have yet to forget.
“We all have baggage.” True. We all have the things in our lives that hinder us from truly LIVE-ing. Sometimes we picked up the trunk when we were kids, subject to alcoholic, drug addict, molesting, angry violent caretakers. Sometimes it’s the loss of a parent, sudden loss of a home due to a natural disaster. Sometimes it’s navigating a household where mental illness is a very real dynamic. Sometimes we pick up the stubborn wheeled suitcase when we are adults and feel the sting of divorce, the being left for “the other woman” or finding out we are “the other woman”, the child who vehemently vocalizes they despise you for any number of reasons, being laid off…again, the sexual harassment issue you never reported, not feeling attractive and feeling too old to feel that way, etc. I could go on and on about what’s in our baggage and how it got there. But I’m not.
“The key is to find someone with a matching set.” I liked the sound of that. As he explained it, the key was to accept we all got stuff in life, and that sometimes what makes for a healthy relationship is partnering with people who’s baggage is close to ours, whether in size or color. If you’ve been in recovery and sober for 2 months it may not be best to link up with the person who really wants to be sober but has shared they still can’t go more than 2 hours before they need a drink. You may want to keep company with the person who has been sober for 200 days. If you’re packing in Louis Vuitton then be on the lookout for other folk packing in Louis Vuitton. Maybe you have the LV trunk and they have the garment bag, but at least it’s the same set. Or maybe your luggage is a red three piece set and his is a red three piece set but you got Gucci and He’s got Kenneth Cole. Ultimately what he was getting at was common ground is important in healthy relationships, and sometimes some of the commonness includes the hurts we have experienced. That goes a long way especially in your romantic and close personal relationships. Now, just as a side note, the counselor in me wants to put out there, don’t be codependent. Yall don’t need to have the exact same model, color, and size of every piece of baggage. That my friend is what we call codependency.
But…at some point, matching set and all, you’ve got to choose to check your baggage. You’ve got to chose what baggage needs to get tucked away as you travel your life. You’ve got to make the call that you can not carry on the childhood trauma and abuse, the fear of commitment, the depression, obesity, workaholism, etc. You’ve got to make the decision it’s too heavy and will prevent you from boarding. I mean that’s the reality at airports. There is baggage that has to be checked and baggage that can be carried on and tucked in the overhead bins or under your seat. Even on the train, you are allowed to carry on two pieces of luggage, that’s it.
This week I want you to think about your baggage boo. What bags need to be checked? Are you obnoxiously journey through life with the trunk that needs to be checked or are you breezing through with a backpack an d a tote bag. And when it comes to your relationships- are you keeping folks around who are carrying things in grocery bags, a Barbie rolling bag, and a tote from the free library or are you investing in relationships where you all at least have green luggage but maybe his luggage is Calvin Klein and yours is Prada and someone else’s is sporting Vera Bradley.
If you have baggage that needs to be checked- check it. You know I am pro mental health and will scream that there is no shame in talking with a counselor or therapist to help you check your bags. Think of them as the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) folk of your life. TSA is at the airport to help you check your bag and make sure you don’t take anything on the plan that could harm you or other passengers, knowingly or unknowingly. Go see a mental health practitioner!
That’s not in your budget? Then check in with one of your home girls. My hope is that you have at least one friend who you can count on to one, be honest with you even if she knows it may cause you to give her the stink eye and turn down invites for happy hour for a few weeks for telling you the truth. If you have a friend like that, the one you sometimes avoid cause she will tell you what you don’t want to hear but may need to hear, yup, she is your TSA. Check your bags with her until you can get to a professional.
A simply LIVEd life is not a struggle problem baggage free life. Because it’s not that means we have to be bold enough from tie to time to struggle, address the problem, and…check the baggage.