By Dr. Pepper Schwartz
You read the profiles. Every once in a while a man or woman says something like, "…and don't bring your baggage with you…". Whatever do they mean? And why should you care?
"Bringing your baggage with you" means wherever you go, your past emotional hang ups (and usually negative) move with you. If you had a bad divorce, you cannot get over it. About five minutes after you meet someone, they know about how badly you were treated, why it was a damaging experience or why you will have trouble trusting anyone ever again. They will hear a litany of complaints against your ex husband/wife and when you talk, you cannot keep the emotion, the anger, or the outrage out of your voice. This blameless person who has just sat down to have a cup of coffee with you, is now witness to the biggest traumas of your life. And, they haven't even known you 20 minutes.
Sometimes the baggage doesn't show up immediately. However, it surfaces eventually, and it's no fun. It may even be something we can all understand: fear and loathing surfacing from having been left with all the bills when the marriage broke up; anger at having been cheated on by your partner; or cynicism over being left behind as your partner unexpectedly married someone else on short notice. It is totally understandable these would be awful events, and difficult to get over. And, yes, the impulse would be to get them off your heart and out of your mind to the first person willing to listen. Bad things have to be put into historical perspective, rather than kept in the present. Wounds have to heal, and neuroses have to be conquered. Otherwise, people feel they are inheriting headaches, problems they had nothing to do with and emotional landmines.
What does this have to do with you? Hopefully, nothing. But, if you recognize yourself as someone who carries their baggage with them, this might be a good time to promise yourself to quit doing it. You can reinvent yourself if you want to. You can nurse your old injuries in private and put on a good face until you've recovered from them. You can make someone believe you are ready to be alone with them, rather than have a relationship unnecessarily crowded with too many ghosts from your past. Get rid of the baggage! Create open, uncluttered space for a new love and embrace this relationship!
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