You Are Worthy: Turning Baggage Into Bricks and Owning Your Life
Babygirl breathe, and remind yourself who the heck you are - UNKNOWN
Baggage. We’ve all heard the term. It gets tossed around a lot when talking about relationships, intimate or otherwise. Then of course there is the fun kind of baggage that follows you on a plane to Miami! But today, were talking about the not so fun kind.
As someone recently informed, and reminded me, I am a pretty badass woman. But, I’m a badass woman with quite a bit of what some people may call “baggage”. We’ve all got that typical emotional bs that comes from high school heartbreak or friend drama. Then there’s the more concrete “baggage”. I’m going to call it bricks, because the term baggage has SUCH a negative connotation to it, that none of us ever want to claim it. We’d rather let it go round and round on the baggage claim than jump forward to pull it off the belt. And I want to change that.
So let’s call it our bricks. Bricks are solid, sturdy, and provide structure. However, a lot goes into turning clay into a solid form that allows you to build something from alllll you’ve experienced, good and bad. For me, my bricks are made of failures, successes, love, loss, and the future unknown.
When I share intimate details about my life with others, the most common phrase assigned to me is, strong. And while yes, I am strong, there are times when I am also weak and tired. Strength is EXHAUSTING. I didn’t become strong, or am able to stay strong, overnight. There are times when I can barely sustain the weight of my bricks, and wish I could simply chuck them off a bridge or lose them in the airport. But, I can’t. I’d be throwing away pieces of myself, losing part of my identity and foundation. And although it’s a lot to carry, I cannot drown the bricks without drowning part of myself. No matter what I do or where I go, I will always bear the weight. A handful of my closest friends can attest to me crying on the floor, literally begging to hand the bricks off to someone, anyone, but myself. Trying to reason with God to take the bricks and pawn them off on anyone else. Just to share the load. Being strong does not necessarily mean you have to take on life alone. And what I’ve come to realize and reframe in my mind is, these bricks, the experiences that created them, actually support me. I no longer see them as something weighing me down, but what is lifting me up. My bricks do not define me, instead they help shape who I am today. The traumatic experiences of my life have refined me and these bricks have paved the painful path to self-growth. And I’ll forever continue to wait for them at baggage claim.
But, I do get tired of having to be “strong” and carry my bricks alone.
I’m all for the phrase, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger - but how long until the need for strength overwhelms you? And honestly, can’t we just learn some lessons from reading a book or hearing a motivational speech instead?? I mean seriously.
So, how does this all fit in with relationships? I ask myself a lot, “how can I expect another person to also carry this weight, when I barely can myself”? Or “will someone even want to carry it with me?” I have a FANTASTIC support system filled with amazing friends and some family (I thank God for them every. single. day.) who hold out a hand to share the strain when they can, and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. But when does it become too much for me to ask of someone else? What if no one wants to share the weight with me and build a home out of these bricks I’ve been carrying? Sure we can all say that the right person will love me for me, and the size, shape, weight of my bricks won’t matter, yeah, yeah. But if I don’t even know how to carry it around sometimes, how can I expect someone else to want to walk with me? While carrying their own bricks?! These are questions I find myself asking as I begin to really accept the reality of who I am and what makes me, me. It has taken me longer than I'd have liked, but I'm realizing being strong does not mean I have to take on life alone, nor do I want to.
This makes meeting people and developing an intimate relationship a whole new world. At first glance, you’d have little inclination of what bricks have built me over the years. You wouldn’t know I became an orphan at age 25 just by shaking my hand. You wouldn’t know my medical needs and other future health concerns. It’s not written on my forehead.
Because of this, I like transparency when meeting someone new, and particularly in dating; no games, no wasting time. I’m past the stage of frivolous entertainment. What I’ve learned from my personal life experiences and working in mental health, is how brief and fragile life really is. I want meaningful relationships. And to honor the value of transparency, I find myself laying all the bricks on the table, so to speak, quite early on.
These have become my guidelines when meeting someone new and forming an intimate relationship:
First few interactions - Let’s talk about more than just the weather and your job. Can you talk openly about heavy topics like; what has your life been like, tell me about your upbringing, how do you see yourself in the future, etc.? I want to feel out someone’s emotional maturity. I want to learn about the other person’s bricks and how they’ve managed to carry them throughout life. It helps give me an initial sense of how someone may handle my bricks if I choose to share them.
Within a few weeks - embrace the bricks and let’em fall boo! If we’ve made it this far, I’ve decided to continue pursuing some sort of relationship with someone. Anddd they’ve been able to handle my sass and want to continue seeing me, too. If I don’t get a good vibe on support for emotional experiences in life and someone who wants to take on life together, then I know we’re better off in a platonic relationship. I expect honesty and transparency so in return, I give it. This way, the other person gets to decide for themselves if they would be willing to share the weight with me and build something of these bricks, one day down the road.
And if they’re not - boy bye. I may not want my baggage from time to time, but I sure as hell refuse to hide behind it and pretend it isn’t there. Is it real, heavy, exhausting and emotionally draining sometimes? HELL YES. But this is my life and I am choosing to embrace it. So if you choose me, you choose all the amazing parts of me and all the bricks, too. I think we all deserve a fair understanding of what we’re getting into with a relationship, embracing the full person in front of us and not who or what we want them to be.
It has taken me 26 years to begin the process of fully loving and accepting the cards I’ve been dealt or the flowers that will grow in my garden. I’ve gone through phases of denial, of demolition, of redesign. But I tell y’all, I am SO tired of fighting against the bricks. Instead, I’m ready to take each brick and embrace it, to build myself into the strong yet sometimes weak and needy, resilient, and also vulnerable woman I am. I no longer feel like I have to or want to do this alone. I am worthy of a partner even though I come with some extra pounds. We all are. I believe my life has taught me the value of love and I know I have SO much to give to someone else, in spite of the load I’m carrying. These are the bricks that built me and, God willing, I will one day find a partner who is ready to take their bricks with mine and build something amazing, together.