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When your luggage becomes your baggage

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Article by Ernest Frost


Some thoughts from my favourite coffee shop....

When your luggage becomes your baggage


Travelling and luggage, it goes hand in hand. Those of you who travel often will know that coming into and out of countries, there are always officials checking; dogs sniffing and asking questions like: "Have you packed your own luggage?", staring friendly but firmly at you and I usually have that awkward feeling that perhaps some object has found its way into my luggage and I will be handcuffed and lead away.

And then there can be that awkward moment when you open your luggage and surprise surprise! The content is not yours!!! This happened to me once when I was on an island beach holiday and when I opened the exact similar looking suitcase it was packed full of black suits and ties........

When we decide to share a life with someone we usually want as little baggage as possible, especially in so far the partner is concerned. We want them sorted and 'light and clean' nothing unnecessary packed and which might make the relationship harder and more complicated.  Just imagine asking a potential partner: "Have you packed your own luggage?" and the person responds: “No, my parents and ex husband and brother and an ex boss are all in there still, there were a few more but especially my parents seem to stick, have been for therapy but it seems I can't get them out! So I will be ok for the first two years but then they will start getting out and it might make our ship a bit shaky! Perhaps more than shaky!

A relationship is the one life context where your luggage will be unpacked and where you sometimes stare helplessly of what comes out. "Is that mine?" and "holy crap, where does this comes from?" might be possible responses. I have been asked to unpack my luggage a few times at an international airport and had some customs officials trawling through my personal belongings with white gloves; it never is a nice experience.

It was only later in my life that I discovered that in a romantic relationship we also start off with the smiles and white gloves, searching each other's luggage in a polite way for the first year or so and then the ‘party’ starts. At times it can get quite rough; the luggage often just gets dumped out and we stare in shock of what is there!!!! “Is that yours?” and “why did you never tell me?” and “but I did not pack that and I don’t want to be like that .....I will never do it again, I promise!” (Until next time)

When I was a student and living quite a distance from the university I often had to hitchhike (Not having a car) and when I did some shopping I hid the bulk of my shopping in the grass next to the road and just kept one bag in my hand;  not wanting to put off a potential lift. When a car stopped I would quickly grab all the rest of the stuff hidden in the grass and ran to the car. Sometimes they pulled away again just shaking a head with a 'no' and sometimes an explanation was given after the 'no'. Now and then someone would stop and stay and gave me a lift even when they saw all my baggage; they accepted it.

In the beginning of a relationship we often only show one (designer) bag of luggage, wanting to give the image of I am sexy and sorted traveller. But by hook or by crook the rest of the luggage will eventually arrive and then the luggage becomes baggage and then often the blaming starts! “If I only had known!” and “Why did you not tell me!” 

I have learned that there is always luggage hidden in the grass of the psyche and inside that luggage is more than often than not big surprises; in mine and in the luggage of the other. And yes, we don’t pack our entire luggage ourselves; some we are born with, some is packed by our caregivers and the rest of our lives stuff just slip in. That is what we call relationship and truth. The spiritual and wise people tell us that relationship is about unpacking and repacking each other’s suitcases (baggage). I take some of your crap end you some of mine and then something magical happens!

I discover that your baggage becomes a necessary item in my luggage, something I have missed for all these years which was taken away in my childhood and this forms the essence of Imago therapy and also other forms of couples counselling.

This is a never ending ongoing process; we travel to different destinations and our luggage might differ depending where we are going. Different partners will unpack our inner baggage differently; sometimes it might be a longer journey, sometimes shorter, sometimes a lifetime with the same person. And when all is repacked and exchanged; only then are we ready for the holiday!!

6 Dec 2013

Last Update: 10 Dec 2013

Article/Information supplied by Ernest Frost

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.