“Bag lady, you gone hurt your back
Draggin all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you”- Erykah Badu
I’m not gone tell y’all how I old I was before I realized she wasn’t talking about actual bags.
Once it did resonate with me that bags were used as a metaphor, it made me feel a certain way. I got baggage y’all. I’m sure we all can agree that we all have some type of baggage.
I would hold on to mine for dear life all the while it was trying to rip my arms from their beloved sockets. Why is that? The very things that cause us so much grief, stress, harm…. we hold on to.
I went through a lot at a very young age within my relationship. Mix teenage hormones, emotions, irrationality, menstruation, peer pressure, and insecurities and it’s one interesting concoction: enough to fill several bags for me to carry for years to follow.
I’ve been hurt before. I’ve been hurt several times. I’ve experienced heartache in a way I wouldn’t recommend for my worst enemy. It was the origin of all feelings of self-doubt, unworthiness, and hatred.
I allowed heartache to be a heavy influence in the decisions I made. Most of which carried greater consequences but at the time, I did not show any concern.
After the “last” break up with Addy’s father, I found myself making very careless decisions: engaging in relations with other men I never really took interest in, picked up a habit of smoking and drinking (more), always looking for a babysitter to go out. Many would describe this as just living the college lifestyle but for those who truly knew me, that was way outside of my character. I would blame my behavior on our broken relationship. “He did this to me; therefore this is why I am acting this way.”
Little did I know how much power I was relinquishing from my own hands by succumbing to irrational emotions. I was avoiding accountability of my own flaws and wrongdoings.
I wanted to heal and recover so bad but was going about it the complete wrong way. I was voluntarily ripping open my wound over and over again. With time, I did begin to heal and forgive but I do know I am not all the way there yet.
I grow defensive VERY easy. The time it took to gain back self-respect, self-love, self-value, I’ve actually developed a very hard exterior that I don’t like peeling back. It is my protection, my covering. I developed a mindset to never let a man say certain things to me anymore or do certain things to me anymore. If I ever did have interest in a guy and he did something as small as a mustard seed to offend me, that was my green light to drop him like we never met. That was my repetition. No feelings. Things worked out better for me that way, I thought.
Until May of 2014, I entered into a relationship. I had already been friends with “him” for some years as we both went to Mizzou. This is my first relationship since Addy’s father (even though I dated regularly but never official) so everything was/is completely new to me.
When I say everything he said/did was cause for me to come to the defense, I mean EVERYTHING. It didn’t matter what it was but I always found a reason to feel attacked by him. I promise the first 8 months of our relationship I drove him to say, “ALANA! I DIDN’T DO THIS TO YOU!”
He was absolutely right. Every feeling I ever felt from past hurt, I was using him to dump it out on. He didn’t hurt me or even come close to it.
I was unfairly putting him in a position to mend a heart he had no parts in breaking.
It’s been a little over a year in this relationship and I am beyond grateful for him, grateful for his love for Addyson, and grateful that he was/is willing to put up with my baggage. He is so patient with me. The crazy thing is if roles were reversed, I would’ve called it quits a long time ago. I’ve learned so much from him in the time we’ve been together:
- Look at the person and NOT the act: In the times I feel offended by something he has “said” or “done,” I have to keep in mind him as a person. I try to do this with everyone for that matter. Do I trust his intentions? Yes. Do I think he would ever set out to hurt me? No. If he did offend me, do I think it was on purpose? No. I make it a constant effort now to remind myself of this and I’m doing A LOT better (well, you’ll have to ask him)
- Friendship: He is a very giving, selfless, and loyal individual. When we were just friends and I wasn’t checking for him (all of undergrad), he was always a good friend to others and me. Whether it was taking me to lunch, putting together furniture in my apartment, helping me move, or listening to my goals and aspirations (this blog)! I could/can call my Homie, Lover, Friend.
- Loving past flaws: If people just up and decided to leave us where we lay based on our flaws and shortcomings, all of us would be lonely individuals. He shows me my value as a person and I am greater than my wrongs. “I’d rather go through all of this with you than with anyone else.”
I don’t have it all together but I do believe I have a healthier mindset and spirit because of him (even though he still says I’m crazy). I can honestly say I’ve loosened my grip on a lot of bags I was carrying and he even took some bags from my hands and tossed them to their rightful place. Peeling off this hard exterior is not easy but because I know I am genuinely loved and cared for, it makes it a little bit easier. Those bags aren’t worth the cost of healing, redemption, and newness. Those bags aren’t worth his friendship.
Love you DLW!