Baggage Claim

emotional-baggageWe all have baggage, don’t we? But it’s not like luggage that we tag and hope gets to the same destination that we do. Our baggage is something we can’t help but carry along with us, whether we want to or not, and it stays with us. What we choose to do about that baggage is up to us, though, if we let it drag us down, or if we learn from it and become better about not accumulating more baggage.

I know I personally have a lot of baggage myself, and most of it has a lot to do with how I see myself today. When I was younger I tended to blame pretty much everyone else in my life for my opinions of myself. They told me I was a certain way and I internalized that, thinking it was true and creating my own baggage in the process. I was a nerd. I was too short. I was awkward around others. I was, in most respects, a basket case. Because I chose to believe others.

There was an episode of How I Met Your Mother that treated this idea in a wonderful way, by showing people with actual labeled baggage that they were physically carrying with them. How great would that be? When we first met someone we could see that they have 10 bags they’re struggling to carry, and we can walk the other way. Right? Of course if that were the case, I probably wouldn’t be married now.

baggageYou see, when we first start out in a relationship it’s the human way to dole out those pieces of baggage bit by bit, over a course of time. It’s called “getting to know each other.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. In this way the other person is able to digest what we’ve told them one at a time instead of getting bombarded with it all at the same time. That’s the only reason they don’t run screaming away from us when we first meet, and why we advance to a second, third, and umpteenth date.

But think about it. One of the biggest issues we have in relationships is that we don’t ever divulge all of the baggage. Continue reading “Baggage Claim”

For Better or For Worse

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A wedding is only the beginning.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. You know how the wedding vows go. “For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, ’til death do us part.” Often times we deal with the richer or poorer aspect. You lose a job and you both have to adjust. Or she wants to start her own business and you are supportive. The sickness and health part of the deal is also fairly consistent, since as human beings we get sick, and our partner is there to take care of us, but it can also apply to major illnesses that we might not have prepared ourselves for, the ones that suddenly spring up and we deal with them. Because that’s what we do once we’ve entered into the contract of marriage, right? It’s right there in the vows. But the biggest one, and of course the one that’s also the most vague, is the one about for better or for worse. What does that really mean?

I got married 10 1/2 years ago, so I’m a little cloudy on exactly what was said during our wedding ceremony (please don’t kill me, honey), but I’m certain our vows were pretty much like the ones I outlined above. And  I know we’ve definitely gone through the “for better or for worse” part. I also know there’s more of both to come, and I’m more than okay with that. I’m of the opinion that you should always go into anything you do with both eyes open, but if you happen to slip up and close one of them, once it’s open again you figure out where you are and where you’re going. You don’t bail just because it’s not what you thought it was going to be. Who knows? It might end up being better than you thought it would be.

Let me get this out of the way first: I come from a divorced home, and I myself have been divorced, so I know what it’s like when there is more “worse” than “better,” when people can’t reconcile themselves to those vows and there is no other recourse. I don’t judge either of those dissolutions because I know there were extenuating circumstances in both. I judge myself for that initial marriage in the first place. It was something that should never have happened, but the divorce itself was a righteous one. My parents’ relationship, too, was irreconcilable, and although that was sad for me at the time, and on some level I’ve never gotten over it, I know that it was best for both of them in the end.

I’ve never been the best at relationships, and for a long time I blamed my dad for that. I wouldn’t get too attached to people because I always worried they would leave me high and dry. So, being distant was a state of existence for me. Continue reading “For Better or For Worse”

Asking the Tough Questions

thNever ask questions if you aren’t prepared to deal with the answers.

I don’t even remember where I first heard that, probably on some lame, cliche-filled TV show or right after a pregnant pause in a dramatic film. But isn’t it true that some of the most poignant turns of phrase show up in the oddest places? With great power comes great responsibility anyone? Luckily for me, I honestly don’t care where it comes from, if Alvin and the Chipmunks said it, or if it came from Al Gore, or even if it’s a catch phrase for Joey from Friends. I take every single one that interests me and I analyze it to see how it could be applied to my life, then I share what I’ve learned with others.

Question #1: Where is this relationship going?

This may surprise you, but before I got married the first time the longest relationship I had been in was a year in length, and three months of that time were spent estranged. So the question was indeed very valid for me. Was I ready at that point to analyze a relationship and see if it could be long term? Or was I just in it for the fun and excitement that came from being with someone new, and then with someone else new, et al. Honestly, my answer to that question back then was always, “This relationship is status quo, which is good enough for me.” It’s no wonder my relationships lasted such a short amount of time.

Question #2: Where do you plan to be in five years?

It’s not as easy a question as you would think. So much happens in the course of life that five years can be an eternity made up of a series of shifts and changes that define and redefine who we are. If you had asked me the question five years ago I highly doubt I would have said I would be here, doing what I’m doing, thinking the thoughts I’m thinking. I know I wouldn’t have said I’d be here writing a blog right now. In fact, back then it was all about writing for myself, and not sharing with others. And the big problem with plans is that we have a tendency to try and fit our lives into those plans and then to judge ourselves on whether or not we hit our objectives. Continue reading “Asking the Tough Questions”

What Guys Do

Remember the 1980s Family Feud game show where they challenged contestants to pick out most popular answers to questions? What I loved was how sometimes the top answers were odd, and I just couldn’t help wondering if they were lying and no one really gave that answer. Like when the category was Things Found In … Continue reading What Guys Do

Call and Response

marching-band-black-on-white-mdHave you ever seen a marching band, where the leader carries a baton and goes, “Left. Left. Left. Right. Left.” and everyone in the band follows along in perfect rhythm, one foot after the other, completely in sync? I used to be a part of one of those marching bands, and I would often repeat the “Left. Right. Left.” in my head along with the leader. It kept me in line with everyone else, especially when I was also playing this huge bass drum pressed against my stomach at the same time. I liked the commands because they helped me to just go with it and not have to think. It’s the same reason people tend to gravitate toward songs that have specific dance moves attached to them, like the Macarena, the Hammer Dance, or even Gangnam Style. They like to let others do the work, and they sit back and enjoy the ride, but without those people who do the work, no marching, or dancing, would get done. It’s the glory of the call and response. Some are callers, and others are responders.

I’m usually a caller. I know, you’re probably shocked at that piece of news. I’m generally the person who starts most conversations, and if there is a lull I like to fill it with something. Some people would call me a leader, and I am that, but a caller is even more than that. A caller is the idea person, not just the one who barks out commands, the one who thinks ahead and knows that something will be needed and when. And it’s an innate sense, too. You can’t be taught to be a caller, and it’s not easy, but it’s fulfilling when a group you’re a part of needs to get something done efficiently and/or creatively. Responders also have a big job, too, though, to follow the instructions of the caller, to put those ideas into action, because without them whatever the grand task is doesn’t get done. With no dancers, there is no dance. Continue reading “Call and Response”

Dating Values

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Don’t drop her.

Why do so many first dates end up without the scheduling of a second? How is it that with so many single people out there women still can’t seem to find a “good man”? Why is the probability of someone remaining single if they’re single by age 30 increasing every year? How can the process of dating be less of a hassle and more of what it was intended to be, a way to meet the person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with?

Back in olden times, dating was called courtship, a fancy term to mean that a gentleman picked up a lady at her house, drove her to a nice dinner, had scintillating conversation, and returned her to her doorstep at the pre-approved time. Even the use of the word gentleman to describe the fellow is telling. He opened doors for the lady, pulled out her chair at dinner, and asked her if she was chilled, in which case he would let her borrow his cardigan. And ladies were just that, demure and proper, but not doormats. Ladies spoke their minds in a tactful manner and thanked their dates properly when they were dropped off. Continue reading “Dating Values”