October 3, 2011

Does Your Emotional Baggage Fill a Suitcase?

I’ve spent the weekend unpacking and getting settled in my new home in Rhinebeck. For the past two weeks I’ve been living out of a couple suitcases, first at a friend’s condo, then my mom’s and finally sleeping on an air mattress in an empty cottage waiting for the arrival of my things. The first night wasn’t so bad until I woke up and realized I had no breakfast, no chair, no silverware, no cell reception and nobody. When the movers called to tell me they wouldn’t be able to deliver my belongings for a week, I broke down and cried. In the middle of Target.

In that moment of weakness, all I wanted was a sense of familiarity, but everything felt foreign. I was lost, not only to my surroundings but to myself. Once I calmed down I reminded myself that it’s just stuff. I’m fortunate anything I really needed, I could just buy, so what did I really need and why did I need it so badly it could make me feel unhinged? Well, it’s obvious, I wanted to know everything would be okay. This was only temporary. Which got me thinking about our emotions and just how fluid and impermanent they are. When we are experiencing one we don’t really like, we resist it, as if we can keep it at a distance and somehow not really feel it. But emotions are temporary. They come and they go, they ebb and they flow. Trying to hold on to any particular emotion is also an act of resistance. We deny the moment we’re in to be in the moment we were in before. So I let the emotions wash right over me in the chair aisle until I cried it out. Then, I started a list of what I needed to get by.

Perhaps, emotional baggage gets a bad reputation because the phrase seems to imply ‘too much emotion’ otherwise it’s not baggage, it would be more of a baggie. How do you quantify something so esoteric? Who decides the right amount of emotion? Especially when how much (or how little) you have directly determines your willingness to open up and expose those places that rarely see the light of day essential to any good, sustainable loving relationship.

‘Too much baggage’ may have you believing you know everything there is to know about love. ‘Too much baggage’ may have jaded you to the point where you don’t even remember how you even fell in love in the first place. ‘Too much baggage’ may have made you broke or broken your family. ‘Too much baggage’ may lead you to create walls too high for anyone to bother going over, under or around in order to create a connection with you because, let’s face it, if you aren’t willing to break through your own walls, why in the world should anyone else? But is it really your emotions that are holding you back and keeping intimacy at arm’s length or it is fear telling you how important it is to stay in control of this elusive love thing? Emotions are fluid, but the ego wants things to always be the same. Fear is the way the ego expresses itself. And guess what? Fear passes too. Once you really acknowledge that to yourself, the baggage bullshit simply ceases to be and you can get on with the business of living.

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