Carrying baggage……

While traveling with my family on vacation, I laughed at myself as I tried to pick up my back pack, along with the kids stuff. I sang to myself, “Pack light……” If you’re a neo-soul fan, you should be very familiar with Queen Erykah Badu and her anthem, “Bag Lady”. This song has been on my mind since I went to a meeting this past month at a beast cancer support group,  called Sisters Network, and a bright, exuberant young supporter sang a piece of this song as a way to introduce some gifts she’d brought. She had some hand made cloth bags to hand out, and she used it as a metaphor for all of the “stuff” we carry around.

Before kids, I carried a nice bag, of sorts, like the new, shiny designer whatever I wanted for the day. Once I had kids, this changed to a huge diaper bag, filled with bottles, diapers, and wet wipes. To work, I carry a large computer bag and then probably 2 other bags that have my lunch and work out clothes or other stuff that I think I might need during the day. The point is, we’re all carrying too much.

Without being deep, I literally mean we’re carrying too much. Think of how many pounds a large bag weighs down on your shoulder, neck and back. No wonder mothers deal with chronic tension headaches and muscle spasms. My favorite term, that I think I came up with although I haven’t copyrighted it yet, is the “soccer mom reach back” for the strain put on your rotator cuffs when reaching to the back seat to hand the baby a cheerio, or iPad, or pacifier. We put a lot of strain and pull on those muscles over the years.

To speak metaphorically, we also carry a lot of emotional baggage. It’s difficult for some of us to move on because of a failed relationship or marriage, lost job or passing of a loved one. These negative experiences can drag you down, for longer than we realize. You think you’ve processed it and your feelings. You feel like you’ve grieved appropriately. But, on the inside, there’s still turmoil and sadness and anger. This can be dangerous. It might be hard to notice, but slowly and gradually, insomnia kicks in. Or comfort eating increases. Or you’ve suddenly become more withdrawn from the things and ones you love.

“Pack light” means let some things go. It’s not easy, but you have to. Talk to someone to help you figure out what works best for you. Take a walk. Write a blog. Join a support group. Let it go.


Dr. Swiner

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