When I talk about baggage I’m not talking about the Tumi 4 wheel luggage I wish I could afford, but about the metaphysical baggage we lug around that become part of our personality. I’m talking about issues, perceived wrongs and past experiences that weigh us down. I’m talking about things that happened in your past that go on to dictate your future, and I’m talking about it because it’s not a good thing.
Metaphysical baggage needs to be checked. It needs to be put down and left, but unlike real baggage, it should never be collected again. Root through it, take what you can use (like wisdom and knowledge) and walk away.
Bad things happen, they do and it’s terrible, but it’s important that you’re able to move on. You can’t live a happy, fully functioning life while carrying the scars of your past traumas. Eventually they start dictating both your personality and decisions. Old wounds should not dictate new relationships. One person is not another, and just because something happened once doesn’t mean it will happen again. In fact, the more you fixate on history repeating itself, the more you move towards creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
Your Dad and I have a friend that was burned once by someone he trusted. It screwed him up to believe in someone whole heartedly and be betrayed. The problem is, he is unable to let it go, and that inability or unwillingness has made him a skittish person, quick to think the worst of people. In many ways he’s lost the ability to trust and for that everybody suffers. The actions of one person dictate how he sees all others. He’s so weighed down by his past that he’s become defensive at the slightest perceived slight. A past friend’s actions have made him guarded and overly sensitive to new friend’s behaviors and it’s a tough road to climb.
Imagine your girlfriend cheated on you and you carry that fear into your next relationship. You become hyper vigilant and accusatory, convinced the same thing is going to happen again. The new girl has done nothing to deserve your lack of trust. It’s not her fault you were betrayed and it’s not her problem to deal with. Eventually you’ll drive that girl away with your fear and nerves. What you needed to do was learn from the first incident – ie. I could have spent less time at work, I could have paid more attention to her, I shouldn’t have dated a tramp, whatever the lesson is – chalked it up to life, and moved on. If you carry the baggage with you, you are not only unable to learn from it, because you have no distance to gain perspective, but you are unable to move on from it. You create a pattern in which all future relationships have to live up to or prove themselves against and it’s unfair and unreasonable to expect people to do that. People do not deserve to pay for the mistakes of others, and it’s on you to make sure they don’t.
If you’re hurt baby, I’m sorry. I know it can be devastating, but you must allow yourself to heal so you can get on with your life. Don’t expect to be burnt again. Take your lesson, store it, and leave the pain behind. Try to enter all new situations with an open heart. Trust people until they prove untrustworthy. Innocent until proven guilty isn’t just for the courts. It’s not naive to expect the best in people, it’s hopeful, and often people will rise to the occasion to justify your trust. If you expect the best from people you might find yourself disappointed but you won’t find yourself jaded. Disappointment you can move on from, jaded is a state of being, and not a particularly great one. Jaded people may be burned less, but they enjoy less. Jaded people, the one’s who refuse to “have the wool pulled over their eyes”, who protect themselves from hurt at all costs, are never able to fully relax, to truly enjoy. By not seeing the best in others they are unable to be the best versions of themselves. You have to put yourself out there in order to reap the greatest rewards.
I’ve been burned a number of times in my life but I’m very happy. No matter what’s happened to me, I’ve always believed things were going to work out. I believe that with my health, with my career and I believed that with my love life. For all the horror stories and ridiculousness that came before your father, I never lost hope. I never stopped believing I was going to find the right person, I never changed my mind or decided to settle (despite my mother’s suggestions). I fully committed to every new love whole heartedly, and though I was disappointed every time, I never gave up. My faith and hope was rewarded when I met your Dad. He loved me utterly and completely and, no matter what preceded him, I felt I deserved it and could trust him. It would have been easy for me to become apathetic when it came to love, to let the disappointments of my past build walls around me, but I never did and I’m convinced it was that openness that allowed the right person walk right up.
I’m a trusting person. I was fired by a man who more or less derailed my acting career and I went back to work for him again. Did I like him? No. Did I trust him? No. But I believed that I needed to take the chance because it was good for my career. What I did do, however, was take the lessons learned from our previous dealings and use them to protect myself. Iron clad contracts and defined creative control so there would be no confusion as to where the power lay. Unfortunately for me it didn’t work out again, but it wasn’t from lack of preparation or foresight. At the end of the day he’s just not someone who can trust other’s ideas might surpass his. It was his baggage that made it impossible to move forward not mine. I still got burnt (I spent almost a year creating a series of children’s books I had no rights to unless they were published, and I wouldn’t publish them unless they were something I was 100% behind) but I wasn’t afraid to try. I wasn’t unable to take a leap of faith. He, on the other hand was. His closed mindedness, and past baggage of not being in control, have made it impossible for him to collaborate or bend and he suffers for it. Walking away from that project, I was both frustrated and liberated. I’d taken a risk and it hadn’t paid off, but I’d also learned that no matter how good the deal, some people you just can’t work with no matter how hard you try.
My advice, no matter how painful sometimes, is to throw yourself into things every time. Don’t be a whiny suck living in the past. Leave the past where it belongs and move forward. You aren’t protecting yourself by carrying the hurt, and it’s not anyone else’s job to help shoulder your burden. Learn from your mistakes then wash your hands of it. There are always other opportunities, always other loves, always other jobs. Do the best you can and expect others will do the same. Will you be disappointed? Sure. Sometimes. But you’ll also give yourself the chance to be happy and that’s worth the risk.
I love you.
Just let it go.