Hurt people hurt people.
When traveling by air or train, you will be required to check in the luggage that you will be traveling with. The airport or train station security may require some people to open their suitcases and some are usually a sight to behold. You will find all manner of paraphernalia in there, it is shocking. Where there is excess baggage, the traveler is charged for it and it is a costly affair.
At the end of one’s journey, you have to pick your baggage at the baggage claim. Funny how the baggage belt lies one’s state of baggage bare. It is your baggage though, and you have to walk out with it.
We all have baggage, emotional baggage. It is derived from our past experiences, be it our upbringing, past relationships or experiences that we have had with different people. A good number of people fear showing their true selves for fear of rejection or being judged. Others have such horrible past experiences they wish they would remain buried. Relationships are therefore approached with a lot of caution. There are those who have been lucky to handle their baggage, and accept that there are things they can change while others would be hard to do so. It can be a costly matter if baggage is not dealt with.
As many stories are told, love can blind people to the point that they do not see how their baggage influences their actions. I got married in my thirties. I had gone through a colorful experience in my life. I met my husband when my heart was capable of handling a relationship. When I got married, I realized that there are issues that were coming to the fore on my part that I had not addressed. Matters to deal with my upbringing that were affecting how I was relating to my husband, past mistakes and past relationships and it only took a trigger to realize that some of these issues were still lingering on.
Growing up, we lived a comfortable life. My father resigned from a good job and things went south thereafter. At that point, I learnt that money is elusive. It may be here today and gone tomorrow. I also saw effects of debts on families. This led me to be cautious with money. I later got to see how that affects financial decisions in my marriage. I will err on the side of too much caution and it affects the speed at which joint investments will be made at times.
The topic on baggage is quite important for anyone in a relationship or desiring to pursue one. It is no wonder that the topic is addressed during pre-marital counseling. The truth however is that only a few are able to address the topic during courtship and I feel there is need to further drill on this matter.
I recently had coffee with one of my childhood friends. We had not seen each other in a while. This opportunity gave us a good chance to catch up. We had both gotten married, had children and life happened, as we would like to say. We reflected on this topic, signs that could have been ignored while dating or in marriage, conversations that should have been held but did not take place. We laughed heartily remembering how at the point of getting married, we would not have listened to anyone daring to give caution on how to deal with our pasts, and those of our spouses.
Do you have baggage? Of course you do. Most of our issues come from those who are closest to us. Our families have a big role to play. Without realising it, we carry some of these burdens caused by our parents or families. It could be issues arising from separation or divorce, their view and use of money, alcoholism, work or lack of it, anger, disciplining children and much more.
Baggage arising from abuse, whether physical, emotional, sexual or financial, or child experiences or past relationships or even spiritual experiences needs to be addressed. Cindi McMenamin says ‘…..it’s the simple unintentional things, after awhile, that become huge offensive things that slowly undermine the security and health of a marriage….when baggage from wounds and present irritations goes unchecked, it can wreak reckless words, unintended silence, or hurtful behavior we aren’t even aware of. But those behaviors can be reversed.’
How do we manage baggage? That should be our focus, as it determines how effectively we manage conflict and issues arising in our relationships.
1. Accept that you come with baggage and it forms part of your past.
2. Unpack it. Work through your issues. This may call for professional help. Some issues may not be addressed by loved ones but by professionals. But you need to ask yourself why you act the way you do.
3. Determine what your triggers are. What is it that causes you to go back to past hurts?
4. Communicate about your past wounds. Your spouse or partner may not be aware of the pain you experienced.
5. Forgive. This is hard but forgiveness sets us free. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes, including how you have hurt others. Forgive those who have wronged you.
6. Let God work in you to make you a better person. He is our present help in time of need. He is able to redeem and restore. Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you. ‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.’ Psalm 147.3
If we do not address our baggage, it will do us more harm than good. Our baggage may not be overt and it is for that reason that it is harmful if not resolved, leading to the many problems we see in today’s marriages and relationships.
‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.’ Psalm 34.19
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