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  • Writer's pictureZibby Wilder

Baggage is the Real Ball and Chain

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

On this day of one of the world's most ridiculously successful retail sales ploys, let me speak to you of love. And baggage.

As I chop my way through the National park of text I have amassed over the last two years, I slowly hammer the sticks of story back together into tales and timelines that make sense of someone else's history.

In doing so, patterns are revealed. And so is the extent of their repetition. Maria's life pattern involved the ball and chain of baggage. So. Much. Baggage. It kept her from the things she wanted most — acceptance, respect and love.

The people who accepted, respected and loved her as she was — bright, slightly manic, funny, infuriating, kind, jealous, intelligent, frustrating, beautifully flawed — are the exact people that baggage kept her from truly loving back. No matter how much she thought she loved them, she loved the baggage more. More than her father, more than Dorothy Stewart, more than Mary Cabot Wheelwright, more than Georgia O'Keeffe, more than so many others.

As I reach for ways to tell Maria's story, while living my own, I continue to be blindsided by the rich variety of ways that we stupid humans stick with the comfortable pattern of baggage: allowing the past to blight the future.

Ever date someone who has endured what they called a "bad" marriage or long-term relationship? Yeah, me too. This person spent 12 years with someone he "hated". After a short time of knowing each other he began to very subtly disrespect and disparage me, specifically regarding everyday issues we all have -- but that he had also had with his ex. When I pointed it out, he was all apologies.

My response: why apologize? How about take responsibility instead? You were not forced to marry, nor stay with, that person. But you chose to do so. You were not forced to hate that person. But you chose to do so. You were not forced to treat me unfairly. But you chose to do so.

Carrying around that load may be heavy, but the real weight of it is the shirking of personal responsibility. Hiding behind drama, anger, entitlement, and guilt from the past allows us to make excuses for current behavior and excuses for not stepping into the fantastic and frightening future. Choosing the terrible past over beautiful possibilities, over what we're reaching for...why do we do it? Is it just...easier?

A friend from long ago who I follow on Instagram, and from whose feed the above image was borrowed, put the choice so beautifully that I have to quote her (I am doing so anonymously, unless she decides she wants all four of my readers to follow her, then I shall credit her here):

"Drama, hysteria and chaos are contagious. But, so are compassion, empathy and calm. Your choice."

What a choice it is. A pretty simple one in theory. Perhaps not so much in practice.

If we're going to carry around everyone else's shit with us, may as well pack our love and needs and hopes and dreams in that baggage too.

Lock it all away with all that other stuff holding you back because as long as you're carrying the baggage: it's going to come before YOU. When do you transform it into experience and...let it go!? And letting go can be one of the hardest things to do.

Maria's baggage always came before Maria and I know for a fact, as she looked back on her life, dragging all that dead weight around was the biggest mistake of her life. But still, she made it -- she chose it -- over and over and over again.

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