And boy did I learn a lot. A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, my husband and I went to a local peer run relationship center to take an assessment test. Just to see where we were having issues and had a solid base to work from in counseling. Today we got the results back and went over them with the head of the program, and another woman who has been dealing with us thus far.
It was an eye opener for me. I don’t pretend to have a perfect life. My husband and I argue a lot. We’re under a lot of stress. I knew stress was a big reason we fight, most of it over the dumbest things that don’t really matter and we both know it. So we take it out, sometimes, on one another because the things we are stressed about we cannot directly change and influence. I don’t pretend to have had the best, or the worst, childhood ever. My mother did the best she could, and I understand that. It does not mean that I can excuse a lot of the negative and harmful examples I had growing up, but again, when in a quite frankly fucked up situation in which you see no way out for yourself, you do the best you can with what you have. And when there’s kids involved, you put yourself aside and do what you feel is best for them. So no, I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but I didn’t have a tragic one either. It was a childhood fraught with crappy circumstances and again, the fact that I made it into adulthood relatively alright is a testament to one woman’s hard work and love.
That said, because of my childhood and background, I’ve got some serious baggage. Baggage that I had not realized was having such a MASSIVE effect on my life now. Not until it was put into a clear and objective manner. Looking at the list of stress factors on my side of the paper, I realized that out of everything listed, only ONE was not influenced by the baggage I carry from my past (it’s a weight and health issue). The other was a RESULT of the baggage I carry (conflicts with my husband). The rest… The rest IS the baggage.
So, that said, I’m not putting all of the blame on my past, on my family and my upbringing. There’s a difference between blaming and acknowledging the influences of. The only models of relationships I had growing up were not healthy ones. The only models of reality I had was not a healthy one. And these factors stunted my growth so that my interpersonal skills were based on flawed examples of extremes, in this case the extremes were negative in nature.
My baggage will always be a part of me. I know this. However, now I am in a healthy relationship (with some growing pains) with someone who loves me, and is willing to put up with me and help me to move past the baggage, maybe leave it at baggage claim for a while. What I can do, though, about the baggage is change how it influences me. Instead of using it as my only examples, I can use it as examples of what not to do. Examples of how not to handle certain types of situations. Turn them into morality tales I can tell my children in case I feel they are straying down a harmful path.
The point is, I’ll never be rid of it. But I can at least shove it under the bed, or into the closet and out of sight. It’s who I was, it’s where I came from. I’ll never be ashamed of that because despite the negativity, the hardships, and the struggles, it taught me how to survive. It taught me how strong I really am. But that does not mean I need to sit and stare at it all day, and use it as an excuse as to why I’m having trouble communicating my needs and desires.
Basically, I didn’t realize I was holding onto as much as I was, and I did not realize that it seems to be the core of my conflicts with my husband (most of the time) and that it’s stressing me out when really, it has little bearing over my life as it is now.