Travelling light.

vintage-luggage-winona-steunenberg“The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. What is grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.” ~ Lao Tzu

Take a look at the baggage you are carrying around with you today. If grief, resentment, pain or regrets are weighing you down then it’s time to unload.

When you’ve suffered disappointments or been left disillusioned by love-ones it can be hard to move on. The shock, denial, guilt, anger you can experience as a part of grieving are natural for a time, yet if you don’t progress through those stages it is all too easy to become trapped in the past.

But life is about living in the present and anticipating the future. You can’t do that if you are carrying the baggage of yesterday into today. And when difficulties arise they simply add to your luggage of psychological pain. It gets heavier and you become encumbered.

Instead of embracing each day afresh, you return to the same mental battleground. You replay the same scenarios or repeatedly hear the same negative thoughts, only to be hurt yet again. Your bags are stuffed with rejection, shame, bitterness, jealousy, mistrust, apathy, confusion, anger, fear. In fact they can be filled to the top but it doesn’t matter, you find another bag and carry that too.

“Live, so you do not have to look back and say: ‘God, how I have wasted my life.’ ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I spent years carrying the baggage of my childhood abandonment and abuse. I carried them for so long that they became part of me. Where ever I went those bags came with me, because the loss of my mother and abuse by my father were all I had to define me.

Instead of using those traumas as stepping-stones to a better tomorrow, I used them as a prison wall. Instead of taking each day as an opportunity to restore and renew, I added to my pain. Instead of living my life as the person I wanted to be, I lived as a victim of my past. Not surprising then that depression and alcoholism became my coping strategies to help me carry my emotional load. Until they too become too much to bear.

Like many who have gone through life clutching on to the baggage of trauma or tragedy, I realised the damage being caused physically and emotionally. However, not only did I not know how to let go, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.Because the prospect of change was so terrifying.

I had dragged those issues of rejection, abuse, depression, alcoholism with me for so long that I couldn’t imagine being without them. My fear of the future overwhelmed the familiarity of my existence. And what a terribly dark existence it was.

The truth was that all I possessed defined me as a victim. When I finally crumbled under the pressure of my past, I knew deep down though that I had to make the choice to give up or get up.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

The only way to move forward was to throw away all those things that held me as a prisoner of my past. I was so weary. I’d had enough of it all. Still it was only when I hit rock bottom that I turned to faith.

It wasn’t easy, but I gave myself permission to hand over everything that was harming me. Gradually over time I released all the pain and fought the demons that had troubled me for as long as I can remember. Faith taught me that I didn’t have to understand why I had endured such trials and that there was nothing I could do to change the past.

Acceptance of what had gone before helped me to begin living in the day and start looking to the future. Then forgiveness provided the key  that set me free to clear out all the baggage. With my lightened load I could  reclaim my life and fill it anew.

Now I have a faith-filled heart full of hope, love, joy, and trust. I continue my journey in sobriety with gratitude and serenity. No longer burdened by yesterday I choose to appreciate today whatever it brings and eagerly await tomorrow.

And that is what I would wish for you. Don’t let the events of the past keep you from enjoying the future that awaits you. Put down those bags crammed with destructive negativity. Leave them and don’t look back. You don’t need them those things any more. .

liberty-london-suitcasesTime to find some bright, new vibrant luggage and fill them with everything that can bless and fulfill your mind, body and soul. Those things that nourish and uplift are weightless.

Believe me, it’s time to start travelling light.

30 thoughts on “Travelling light.

  1. Your post was thought-provoking to me. I’m having trouble being civil to a relative, and I realized it is because I’m carrying baggage about her behavior when my Mom was on her deathbed. It was a stressful time for all of us, and it is time I let go of the resentment I’ve been carrying.

    • Thank you for sharing this Susan as I am sure there are many that can relate to carrying resentment about a relative, me included. In fact it was one of the reasons that I wrote this post, because I realised I had been carrying around bad feeling for far too long. You are definately not on your own! I’m sure that you will be releasing that burden very soon.

  2. Pingback: Travelling light. By The Hurt Healer | Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie

  3. Traveling light… each time you write, Carolyn, it’s like finding a window open to a bright, cheerful world outside of trauma and pain. There was a time when I was a prisoner to my past, as well, carrying heavy baggage because I thought it was the right thing to do, the only thing to do.

    Life outside the prison walls is beautiful and to be able to run again, freely and lightly, restores our youth. I love the gentleness here at your place, Carolyn… you have the heart of a true hurt healer.

    • I know that you have traveled the most amazing journey Susan. Like you I have carried baggage thinking it was the right thing to do. But what was right for someone else wasn’t necessarily the right thing for me.
      Thank you as always for your loving words Susan. Bless you. xo

  4. Lovely post, Carolyn. I’d add that faith doesn’t have to be a specific tradition – just a strong sense that there is mystery and unknowable, which you could call ‘God’ or ‘Life’ or ‘Great Spirit’ – an infinite context for the little self, helps with this letting-go.

    • I agree with your comment Jenny. Although I am true to my faith, I appreciate that many find spiritual support and restoration in a higher power that isn’t necessarily defined by mainstream religions. Finding that ‘infinite context for the little self’ is a perfect description of how I would see God’s power in my life. But whether it’s ‘God’ or ‘Life’ or ‘Great Spirit’, it’s essential that we are able to hand over the pain of the past and find hope for the future.

  5. wonderful post! I just wrote something last week similar to this thought. Thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts. I will be sharing this post on my Facebook Page, Thoughts From The Porch.

  6. Our baggage can be so heavy and yet we keep carting it around, afraid there’s something in there worth saving. Thanks for the reminder that we can free ourselves and travel lightly, even though it’s scary and unknown.

    • That’s a great point you make about keeping something because we think it’s worth saving. But so often it isn’t. Thank you for reminding me too that just because I’ve carried something for a while doesn’t mean that I can’t live without it.

  7. I think God is really working on all of us today, as many of us are entwined with thinking about the same topic. I like the way you talked about unpacking past grievances. It’s a good visual. Thinking about the past just keeps us going around in circles, and merry-go-rounds make me feel icky.

    Thank you for your visit, Carolyn. Blessings to you and your family,

    • I can relate to your ‘icky’ feeling Marianne. The only way to stop the merry-go-round is to get off. Thankfully God is always ready to help us when we make that decision. Blessings to you too!

  8. Carolyn,
    you are an angel on earth. Your honesty and authentic voice transcends thru the miles… embraces, loves, comforts, holds.

    Warm kisses.

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

    LOVE!!!! Xxxx

  9. Carolyn that is so true. Baggage can keep you down and imprison you making a victim out of you, rather than a survivor.
    You know I am sure glad that you decided to let go of your past, because you are the sweetest person now. I can tell by your post. They are always filled with love.
    Thank you again for help me let go of some old baggage that need to be forgiven.
    Hugs, Debbie

  10. Such a lovely post Carolyn and so true. Such negative baggage weighs you down and often ruins all chances of happiness. So good to see your post just pop up in my mailbox. Sending you warm wishes this evening! 🙂

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