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I remarked in conversation to a friend or two or many others…over the years: “Marriage is harder than raising children.” That is if you plan on truly working on it, remaining in it. Other sayings to keep the relationship going, “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?” Perhaps those five little words, even if you think your partner is wrong, “You Are Right About That.” Too, “Never go to bed angry.” Are good things to remember. It can bring us down to earth.  

My husband used to say, “You’re a product of your environment.”  So many times, I despised that saying. Partly was, I didn’t quite understand what he was getting at. It didn’t mean I was like my parents. It meant, the stressors I dealt with as a child helped mold me and my perception of the world and relationships in it.

I’ve had private conversations on expectations of relationships many times. Some with clients. Some with relatives and friends. Then some with the guys I trained with in an all-male fight gym we trained at for years. I can say this… Those  of us who are married or in a serious commitment to a relationship, at times it can be a challenge.  And what I mean by ‘at times’ is you may go through days, weeks, months, perhaps even years of uncertainty in the relationship. That doesn’t mean its over. Or that it’s to be over soon. Or that jumping ship on the relationship is ‘a comin’. Or that leaving the relationship is the problem solver. Usually, it isn’t. The old saying, “You can’t run away from your problems”. That saying is often quite valid.

When you are in residence with another adult, we need to recall our old baggage. Its like you’re on this flight from EWR to LAX and your luggage is out of sight. But you trust it will be there when you land. Most times we can go to the baggage claim and easily retrieve our bag(s). Other times we must stand there and wait. Perhaps speaking with other passengers who were on the same flight to pass the time. As we know misery loves company. And well, commiserating can be good for the soul and society too.

Other rare times, our luggage is lost. But somehow, somebody finds it and it is returned a week or two later. Or perhaps you get reimbursed for the inconvenience. Yet, the reimbursement never replaces the luggage you lost. You still lost your luggage. It’s not something you’re going to forget. You may end up satisfied on some level, but it still hangs out there as an inkling of a traumatic experience.

Even if it does not consciously bother you. It’s still a loss, a void in your life as you know it. Now it is and will remain part of your mental tapestry. It’s just a different type of baggage.

Each day as you recall your old baggage, there’s bewilderment. It becomes so part of your being that you no longer recognize the old baggage. As part of being human, we’d like to forget about the old baggage. But it’s ingrained into our soul, and our muscle fibers as a memory. So, the old baggage’s essence still exists. It is intangible, yet it haunts.

Same too when we unite in relationships. We arrive as adults into a relationship with the baggage that is unseen. Even unseen by its owner, us. When someone whom we are in a relationship with points out an aspect of our behavior that we want to disregard, or forget, it ruffles our feathers. We often think we’ve been hurt by those that point out the undesired behavior. But the behavior is ours. And until we own it, it will haunt us.

That same baggage we bring to the relationship(s) can make us or break us. It can help or harm our relationships if we don’t address it. Embracing it, knowing that it’s part of our past. The old baggage’s essence remains. We have a choice, we can acknowledge that our old baggage it is ingrained in our psyche, and our muscles. Or we can battle the person we are in a relationship with, as we remain in denial of self-asserted righteousness. When there is no reckoning, there is no change. When there is no change, there is no progression. Or there is stolid, stodgy movement forward, too slow to gain access into improving relationships to self and others.

Conversely, living too much within our old baggage as to give excuses. Such as to why you continue your incorrect behavior. Perhaps, some of which may make you criticize others, as well becomes pedantic. Too, not a healthy response. We acknowledge then we embrace. We use the essence of the lessons of the old baggage to thrust ourselves forward to a better future. The old baggage then becomes a positive reminder, that loss is part of life.  And change is essential for living. --- Jody-Lynn Reicher


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