I'll admit I have baggage, but then again so does everyone else. Anyone who says they don't is lying, not only to others but to themselves. Having baggage isn't the problem, though. The problem starts when we start demanding those that love and care about us carry our baggage for us. We make them responsible for making and keeping us happy.

I know. I used to do it all the time. I expected people I had only known for months or years to make up for all the crap that had happened to me up until that point. Looking back on it now makes me feel kind of stupid and embarrassed. Sure I was in pain and needed help, but pushing off that kind of responsibility on someone else isn't the way to actually get help.

Thankfully I was able to find the help I needed so that I could shoulder the responsibility of my pain and move on. It wasn't easy, though. Picture a huge scab that is just beginning to form and just when the pain is starting to subside someone comes along and rips off the scab. The pain and bleeding start all over again and it seems 100 times worse.

Yeah, that's what moving on feels like in the beginning. You look at the situation and yourself in a very bright light and realize that maybe, just maybe, the mess you're in isn't everyone else's fault. You get to see things about yourself that you wish weren't there. And you try to deny it. You do, but then you have to think that the pain you're in right now isn't worth the denial. You have to believe there's a better way to live.

There is a better way to live...

So yeah, I get baggage. I get why someone would rather carry it around than unpack and unburden themselves. It's painful. It's humiliating. But it's also a relief. It's liberating to know you can go through some traumatic experience and come out on the other side a better, stronger, more forgiving person. It allows those close to you to feel comfortable and secure in the stability of their relationship with you.

Who doesn't want that?

I still have baggage. I probably always will. But I've learned how to unpack most of it and move on so the baggage I do carry I can carry myself. I don't need to burden others or make them responsible for it. It is, after all, my baggage.

It also gives me the freedom to not carry anyone else's baggage. I can't keep anyone else happy. We have to choose to be happy. It doesn't matter what anyone else does or says. If we're not happy, nothing external can change that.

To sum up, you are not responsible for my happiness and I am not responsible for yours.

Wow, that is such a huge relief! What a great way to start the new year.

Published by Cathy Langer