Just like everyone goes to the airport with some sort of suitcase or duffel or backpack or whatnot in tow, everyone goes into a new relationship with baggage. There’s always something we’re terrified of doing or not doing right in a current relationship because of a past one, and the worst part is when we have to go to baggage claim and own up to that ugly carpet bag that belonged to Great Aunt Betty.
If you’ve been following EurOK and have read “Two Sides of the Same Coin” and “Ross & Rachel,” then you probably have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting at. A brief summary for those of you that don’t: I dated my best friend in high school only to have it end in flames. Now my current best guy friend and I are in an iffy place, and I’m scared scatless. But the thing is, I have to remind myself that Today’s B.F. (that stands for “best friend” not “boyfriend”) is not Yesterday’s B.F. And that is my baggage.
Every day I have to remember that just because they are similar, and no matter how deep the similarities goe, does not mean that they are the same person, because they are not. And it’s not fair to hold Today’s B.F. accountable for what Yesterday’s did because they are in no way related.
A two-part anecdote: the other night Ross, Monica, and I lay out in the middle of the college lawn and looked up at the stars. It was a clear night, not too hot, not too cold. Monica was between us, and Ross started tickling her. I told him that it was a good thing he picked her and not me because I kick fiercely when I’m tickled. One time my ex tried it, despite my warnings that he would get kicked where the sun doesn’t shine, but he didn’t listen. What do you think happened? Then a few nights later, Ross, Monica, a few of our friends, and I went out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant to celebrate Ross’s birthday. We were talking about how I’d like to have our squad down to visit me towards the end of this summer, and Ross jumped at the opportunity to bond with my younger brother and “get his approval.” I told him that he already has it, and he’d have to do something pretty bad to lose it, such as be the 2.0 version of my ex. “I’m not ‘Him 2.0,” Ross said, “I haven’t tickled you yet.” We smiled at one another. “That’s not what I meant.” “I know,” he finished.
Even so, that conversation was so reassuring- to hear him say, “I’m not him.” Because somehow it made it all more real; I believe him. He’s not him. And as Ross and I have continued to get closer and closer, I open up more and more. I’m starting to remember what it feels like to be happy with someone and to allow them to love all of you, including the parts about yourself that you hate. The past is starting to fade away, and the future is starting to dawn on the horizon.
I’ve obviously had to claim my baggage in order to make all of this work. The first step to getting rid of it is taking ownership of it. Because the good news is, once you claim it, you get to choose what happens to it! You can replace it with a new, more fashionable model. You can fill it with things that weigh less than what you originally packed. You can ask someone you trust to help you carry it. You can get rid of it and never travel again (although, I’d highly discourage you from this option).
Ross is helping me carry Great Aunt Betty’s ugly carpet bag because he doesn’t care about what it looks like or even what’s in it; he cares about me. And I know that some day soon, it will get a little lighter. It will get lighter until nothing is left inside, and then I’ll fill it with new and exciting things that bring me love and happiness.
Check your baggage. Claim your baggage. Unpack your baggage. And start over with something new.