Claiming our own baggage is tough.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am always telling people to talk about their problems and to let go of their past…but I don’t like revisiting mine. It’s easier to give people advice than to receive it. We all know how important it is to discuss the things that haunt us most to find peace with them, but we just simply don’t like to do that—well, at least I know I don’t like to. And for some time, I thought not talking about it was an efficient solution. Well, if I don’t unpack my bag, it is as if it never happened, right? Eventually, the more I just shove everything into the suitcase and the more locks on it, those things will never come out. I’m fine; this is fine.
And for a while, this tactic seemed like it was working. Consciously, I wasn’t thinking about the things that harmed me or that had happened to me, so I thought that this was a valid solution. I was getting good grades in school, I was enjoying time with my friends, I was socializing and enjoying the world around me.
However, it took me a while to notice that all these instances of “enjoying the world” were very fake; extremely fake. I smiled when I was with others, but I cried by myself.
The moments that I had solitude soon became times of complete loneliness; I couldn’t exist within my own thoughts. So—at first—instead of trying to find peace in solitude, I just attempted to make sure that at all times I was never alone. Since the times I was around people were the times I found myself to be happy, that is exactly what I did. Besides when I went to the bathroom, there was literally never a moment that I had by myself.
Eventually, I finally understood that this was a problem.
Of course, I love the people in my life and love being around them, but, it was not a good thing that I couldn’t survive without them. There was never a moment I wasn’t seeing what a friend was doing, when I could meet up with someone, or even just trying to be in a public place so I could just be surrounded by people.
However, this loneliness soon caught up with me and eventually, no matter who I was around or where I was, I ultimately felt lonely.
It didn’t matter if I was in class, at a bar with friends or at a party, all these people around me weren’t helping anymore. The thoughts that haunted me in my loneliness creeped into my everyday life, and for some time I didn’t understand why the loneliness didn’t go away.
What’s wrong with you, Deiona? You are sitting with your closest friends, all laughing and joyful, and yet you are on the verge of tears! Why do you want to cry in a room full of laughing people? This doesn’t make sense. Then…I began to see that my suitcase was getting pretty full. Here I was, shoving more and more into the suitcase and lugging around this huge baggage, thinking that it was okay…but it wasn’t. I thought that I had put every lock, boy scout knot and duct tape on this baggage that it was impossible for it to open…
Then…my friends started calling me out.
It was different for me to lug around the baggage on my own; but, the problem grew out of hand when the luggage started spilling out onto my friends. At times, they found themselves picking up what was dropping out of my suitcase, trying to seal it back with laughs and meaningful conversations, but, because I wasn’t being honest and wasn’t opening up, they couldn’t keep up with how much was spilling out. And because I was so closed off, at times, they didn’t want to be around me. Now, it’s not that they loved me any less or didn’t care about me, but the energy I was giving off was bringing them down.
I didn’t understand it at first, but the energy that my baggage was creating for me was forcing those around me to help me carry this suitcase…and it was heavy.
What didn’t help is that I refused to accept that this suitcase was getting larger and larger; I was trying to create new locks, but I was failing to realize that the suitcase needed to be emptied. Luckily, God had placed people in my life who grew tired of my unsuccessful duct tape and wanted to help me empty what I’ve been carrying around for so long. Yes, my energy was bringing them down, but their biggest concern was my mental and emotional health. They watched me zone out into sadness, barely eat, barely drink, barely live, and they pushed to snap me out of me.
I am beyond thankful for my reality check.
I thank God every day for the people that helped me unpack my suitcase. And when I finally accepted that my baggage was too heavy to keep carrying around and it was spilling out to others around me to pick up, I decided it was time for a change. I not only wanted to feel real joy again, but I wanted to stop draining it from those around me. I refused to keep smiling when I wanted to cry and losing my mind when I was alone.
The first—and most important—step I took into emptying my baggage was honesty.
I had to give up the fear of people knowing my problems because my energy already let them know I had it…I just didn’t want to admit it. There was no more “fake it ‘til you make it” because the fake was obvious. The next thing I had to do was understand that “alone” and “lonely” were not the same thing. Humans have to be comfortable in solitude and I was a human that wasn’t, until I was able to realize the difference. Now that I have been comfortable sharing my stories and not repacking my suitcase, I can smile whether I am alone or in a group. Of course, there are still things that are taking some time for me to release, but, I am finally not afraid of releasing my truest emotions anymore; I can genuinely say I smile with real joy.
I successfully went from a suitcase to a coin purse.