Baggage is a part of life. Emotional, political, marital, familial, all forms. That which you store in a closet is not always physical. As a matter of fact the baggage you can’t see, that is being stored, stacks up and becomes stagnant much more readily than what you just got home from Wisconsin with. Much more readily and, will most likely, be a much bigger pile and need a huge closet.
Granted, not all people are so well-adjusted that they carry no baggage, or if they do, they try not to think about it. When they do think about it, it is painful. As a matter of fact, I have no doubt that even the most emotionally and psychologically balanced person on this planet can be manipulated into exposing baggage they don’t know they have. Yes, I believe that. I would love to expose and rid myself of mine. I am working on it, but I believe it is impossible to rid yourself of something that you do not acknowledge.
I have been carrying baggage since the divorce in my family when I was just a boy of eight years old. Yeah, it sucks. Know that when you create a disaster for those under you, those tender young hearts and minds, who love and depend on you for everything in their lives, your children, you don’t get to dictate the fallout that they endure or upon whom and where it will fall. In a family like mine, three boys no older than eight, and two parents whom had decided to hate each other, there really was no dodging any fallout. Remember that those little faces were once your little faces. Do you really want to paint tears on them? Us three boys were at ground zero. The debris went straight up and came straight down. There was no escaping the fallout, and it stuck for many years. Having laid that out, this entry will be about sharing the measures I have taken to get over it. Not everyone gets past things equally well or as easily as others do.
I’ll tell you why.
A couple of years ago, after my lovely wife had performed an ancestry research of both of our families, she had the final project bound and now we keep them secure in our home. These are a couple of books with family trees in them, of course, with a pedigree diagram in them. I looked mine over. Of course, I had questions immediately. At that time, three years ago, there were two family members of mine still living. My father, and my mother’s sister, the next oldest of her siblings. My mother was the fourth youngest of five siblings. There are still two ancestral family members alive. A maternal aunt and my father. (Edit, My father passed on Jan. 18, 2015.) This won’t last for long. So I made the move to get some answers. My only viable source was my father as he had become internet aware and present and had reached out to me. I live in Georgia, US. He lives in Washington state. My aunt, on my mother’s side, no. She hasn’t a clue and doesn’t want a clue about computers or there capabilities. Therefore, I have one source. I’m sorry, had one source. I, in no way, anticipated that I would be met with so much reluctance, opposition and refusal when I started digging for answers and started asking questions. As I look back I still do not understand the reasons why.
It seems that upon asking questions, I raised quite a bit of dust. Honestly, If I had ever had children, I would always be ready for them to ask questions and I would always be ready with answers, at least ready to answer any questions they may have or present to me. Being the man that I am, I would most likely have discussed this with my children as soon as I thought they would be able to understand the situation. Those above me do not share my desire to share information, so much so that my father has given into hating me for asking, although, I really don’t think his hate began just a couple of years ago. He has treated me with contempt since the last time I lived with him under his roof 42 years ago. I know, for whatever reason, it existed then. Today, it holds no power over me. The sacrifice was worth the reward. I know, but, I cherish the freedom carrot hanging in front of me more than I cherish the truth that is non-discovery. I am not going to stand and wait for something to appear where I have already been. That path has been cleared.
The fact is this, if you are being damaged by someone emotionally, whether it is someone you are married to, a family member, a sibling or a “friend,” you are allowing them to do so if you do not stop them. If they are feared every time they visit you or converse with you because they are emotionally or verbally abusive, you are giving them permission to do so. Would you invite someone to your house to abuse you? If you are opening the ‘door’ for them, you are allowing them in and possibly encouraging them by not opposing them. You teach people how to treat you by what you allow them to do and by what you do not allow them to do to you. Remove their titles. Without them, would they be admirable in your eyes? If not, put their titles back in place and look at them now. Shouldn’t they be much more considerate and caring? Yes, I think so as well. Those people are called bullies.
Seek and embrace wisdom. If you do not, it will be your strongest adversary. If you do seek wisdom, it will be your most effective tool and lifelong friend.
It may be me who is changing, it may be them. We are all getting old, but we are all also changing our attitudes due to having children, changing jobs, approaching retirement, etc. For me, it was marrying at 48 years old that started a major change in me. Starting a business where I meet people on their level and understand the memories that they have embedded in the photos they ask me to restore. A change to mature. Changes that can not be avoided, but also that cannot be achieved at younger ages due to the requirements put upon us as we become older and more able to accept loftier responsibilities. Changes that can not be effective if you do not embrace them and apply them to your life. Changes that may not come if I had not married. I believe the latter to be the case here. We become wiser, more observant of things around us, more aware of others depending on, and being affected by, what we do in our lives daily. Because of these changes, we become aware of many things. I became aware of how I had let people walk on me through my life. At first, upon this realization, I felt rather foolish that I had been a victim of this activity. My uncle becoming angry with me at 13 years old because he found out that I had smoked a cigarette. He actually said to me, “So, you’re a big boy now. You think smoking makes you a tough kid? If you do, jump, Froggy.” Yes, he challenged me to a fight. A man who could have torn my arms off and paved the street with me. There was nothing I could do, and my uncle never meant to me what he had been before that day, before that moment. I also felt terrible to realize that at points in my young adult life I had done the same to others. I have spent the past ten years looking for and apologizing to people I have hurt. I cannot be determined to rid myself of my baggage while ignoring the baggage I have created for others. Some have accepted my apologies. Some cannot let go of their own baggage and allow my apology to help.
One night while in school and in Seattle for that one year, my father sat me on a stool, took a couple of shots of scotch and proceeded to berate, denigrate and humiliate me in front of my step family. They were in another room, well within ear-shot of what was happening, but not in the room with us. What was his impetus? It was that I was a high school senior and 18 years old. Nothing else. The gap between my father and I got wider. Just because I was a kid trying to see the sky through the clouds, I was disposable.
That was 42 years ago. He claims not to remember. Maybe he doesn’t, maybe he does and is ashamed. He’ll never approach me and say, “I have to say I am so sorry. I was rough on you when you were a kid, and it was wrong.” I would love to hear it. It would mean more to me that anything I can think of. Alas, it will never happen. I can’t see that me apologizing for being his son is required.
Here’s the deal. Not only do you need to clean your life of those who cause you anxiety for no reason, other than their own joy in doing so, but you need to be indiscriminate about it. You can not take sides when no one cares to be on your side. I can’t do so with a clear and defined reason, and I never will. As I have said, when you take away the titles, those people are just that, people. You must disregard remorse for people who treat you badly, yet feel no remorse for their own actions toward you. “But I don’t want to hurt them.” Really? You don’t want to hurt someone who looks forward to abusing you? Get that squared away. Again, take away their titles. Do they look any more caring without them? I didn’t think so. If you do not remove them from your life, you need to remodel your baggage closet and build an extension, because you are not ready to discard what you know you need to and are certainly going to pack more baggage into that space.
I have had to eliminate a family member from my life. I have put that member through every test I can in my heart and mind, hoping to find a flaw in my evaluation of them. There has been no flaw revealed. They are abusive and do not have my better interests in mind and do not look any different without the titles. They need to go. Will I hurt their feelings? I don’t think so. They care not about how I see them or feel about them. That horse has left the barn and they have burned the bridge. It wasn’t my doing. I care too much for others to burn the bridges and laugh from the other side. I leave the bridges to them. They are not my concern. When the roadblock appears on the bridge, it is time to move on down the road. Again, I care not to keep notes on baggage I do not carry.
There are two more people in my life on this list, and at the rate things are going, they are making their way to the chopping block at a steady pace. One of them is on a social networking site I frequent. We seldom talk online. We used to speak on the phone, always after my initiation of the call. I have never received a call or a chat invitation from this person. They always see whatever I “say” as offensive and I see no reason to support their need for me to be there to ignore. They are always indignant to me. The other person is rather indignant to me on the phone. We communicate in no other manner. They do not chat me on the internet.
There is quite enough in my life to keep me productive, caring and compassionate and helpful to others. In my personal life and in my personal business. I see no need to ‘carry’ someone just to be treated with disdain when there is an interaction. One thing I do is learn. Everyday. I do not consider myself above learning. I embrace accidentally acquired knowledge whenever it presents itself. “Thank you so much for showing/sharing that with me.” “I have never thought of it that way. Thank you so much. I will certainly have to apply that” What I see in others, certainly those I have spoken of here is, “You really think that you have something to tell me that is going to change my mind or make me a better person? I don’t think so.” “I’m not concerned with what you have to say, so buzz off.” If you know people like this, “Let it go.” Don’t keep notes on baggage you do not carry.
Absolutely, this is hard to accomplish, because we don’t want to hurt others, at least I have no desire to. It’s too bad that those who treat you badly don’t feel the same.
You have to take a hard stand and claim your freedom. Your spiritual and emotional health depend on it. You have to draw a line and hold it.
Let it go. You do not have to apologize for making wise decisions. You do not have to apologize for removing abusive people from your life. If you do apologize, make no concessions. Ever.
Don’t burn bridges. Others will usually burn them first. Just leave them and the bridges. They may be useful later, if they remain.
If anyone who reads this and knows me and wants to change this, let me know. I am willing to make ends meet and possibly establish a healthy relationship, or possibly, repair a failing relationship. You DO know who you are.
Having said all of that, I have let go.
Thanks for looking,
My father passed in February of 2015.
No answers to my questions.