- Gender and Relationships
Balloons or Anchors: My interpretation of Past Relationship Baggage
It hits me at the weirdest moments. When I put away laundry, for example, I fold my boyfriend’s boxer briefs crotch-side in. Or when I park my truck on a hot night, I make sure to turn the AC off so it doesn’t smell like dragons breath in the morning. I always cook with olive oil and fry my tortillas smooth side down. And I never put a hot dish inside the fridge. These are little habits I haven’t learned from parents, but from ex’s. Each eccentricity can be tied to a small disagreement or light emotional scolding that resulted in a routine I continue to indulge to this day. Yes, some have made me better, but some have also caused baggage.
It isn’t until you stand there with those boxer briefs in your hands that you realize the indentations lovers’ past have left on you. These are not things that my current beau requested nor were they things I did when I was on my own. But they’re a part of me now as much as the hair that rises on my skin. I carry these habits with me, each one heavy enough to feel a burden but light enough to continue on seemingly unaffected. It’s like when you acquire a disability from a broken bone or injury. After a while, you forget the lack of movement in your hand or that slight miss-step in your gait until someone points it out, and then you have to explain.
At 30-years-old, I wonder how much of myself is merely an imprint of someone else? And if that’s the case, how much of me do I have left? I’ve heard the phrase that any relationship you learn from was not a waste of time, regardless of how it ended. And how else, really, can we move forward with a clear conscience if not for a lesson learned? There are two things that can provide release for all sinners in this world and these are 1) remorse and 2) the truth. It’s the most difficult thing to be honest about your fears and your limitations but it also provides an ocean of communication that can take a couple years to explore.
My boyfriend and I have talked about this a few times. He has baggage too. “I hate my brain,” he says whenever I’m away. “It thinks crazy thoughts.” Justifiable since many of his ex’s have been unfaithful. Even though he knows he can trust me, he fights the urge to be suspicious or question whether or not I’m telling the truth when it comes to just about anything. That, combined with my inability to confide what’s bothering me for fear of being judged, has created unnecessary hurdles between us. I would never lie to him, nor would he ever judge me. We both know this, but because those bags hang around our necks, it seems only natural to compromise happiness for old habits. Luckily, our love for each other has become a proverbial back ho, cutting out gullies and passes through our desolate mountains of issues, giving us a fighting chance for a decent future.
My point? Although baggage can feel more like anchors than balloons at times, I have to accept my past as part of who I am. I have to realize if it hadn’t been for the sources of that baggage, I wouldn’t appreciate truly the best thing that has ever happened to me and I certainly wouldn’t know what I had to do to keep him.