It was just a year ago I was visiting with a friend of mine.
She was telling me about all the problems she was having with her boyfriend: He was terribly attached to his mother; he couldn’t finish certain tasks, ever; he always forgot the clothes in the dryer; he hasn’t gotten over his first girlfriend. “Damn,” she said, “he sure has a lot of baggage. I don’t know if we can make it. I just can’t handle it.”
She’s seventeen. Now.
Fast forward a week, and I’m having the same conversation with a head-shaking, confidence-shaken buddy of mine, who tells the same story. Substitute a father for a mother, clothes in a drawer, forgetfulness for mild disrespect…same plotline.
Seems to me that there’s a key to managing this story. Because we all share this story, no matter how young/old, wise/inexperienced, smart/clueless, brave/scared, and the great range in between. And it begins with ditching the notion that life will finally be OK when we meet someone perfect, who doesn’t have any baggage.
Seems to me that’s not where the problem lies. But there is a two step map to happier days.
First, do what you have to do to be accepting of the baggage. Maybe he IS still anchored in memories from three relationships back, but is that balanced by other things? Maybe she picks her nose, but also picks up the kids after school. Maybe he forgets to feed the dog but remembers what you like after a long day at the office. Maybe she complains a bit more than you like, but don’t let that drown out the appreciation, when it comes.
The second step is that successful baggage-handling has to be a two-person team project. Finding the words & the time & the love & the togetherness to visit about the “baggage”… it gives you a chance to handle it together. Treat it like baggage, with agreements about where it goes. Like any old bag: Leave it at the thrift shop. Put it in the storage locker. Agree to talk about it in private but not in public. Maybe even agree to let the other carry it every day, after you both sort out that it’s not gonna just disappear. Agreeing that there’s something that’s bugging you is tons better than wishing it would all go away.
And it’s a chance to show the world that your love & ability to love & the confidence you place in your love is bigger than some random bit of baggage.
So do it.