Fatherhood: Why Emotional Baggage Can Be A Good Thing

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I think having issues gets a bad rap.  Sure, the experiences that cause said afflictions usually aren’t positive and can even be traumatic.  However, we all have emotional baggage and when dealt with properly it can be define our lives in a positive way.

One of the keys to my heart is having some semblance of emotional baggage.  As a man I think it appeals to the part of me that is a provider and a caretaker.  I like to think of the past as segues to the rest of our lives.  When dealt with properly, it is a sign of maturity.  It means that they are more apt with decision making, picks and chooses battles, and knows how to let go of the emotional aspects of adverse experiences all while holding onto the lesson.  Most of their outlook on life and love isn’t from an ideal place.  Even if virtually all of their romantic experiences have been dismaying, the mindset when it comes to love and their future is based on application.  Developing a relationship isn’t based on just throwing things up against a wall and seeing what sticks because they know who they are.  That is sexy to me…

Sometimes baggage can make us a little more guarded; but that is only for those who do not own it.  People see it as something that they can get rid of.  You can’t erase what has happened.  It becomes a part of you.  It is locked into you emotional memory and only can become debilitating when one has not accepted this.

Yes, it may be easier said than done; but owning one’s past-good, bad, or indifferent-is freeing but is a process.  It’s an exercise.  The best way that I can explain this is by giving my own transformation story.  My daughter’s mother passed away from esophageal cancer.  She had a very difficult time ingesting food and I would find myself buying her food from multiple places just hoping she could eat one.  Being that we were poor I didn’t want to waste food so I’d eat them all.  At 6’1” I had ballooned up to 255lbs.

After she passed away, I made a choice to be different.  I took an old book bag and put water-filled liquor bottles into it.  The bag weighed somewhere between fifty to seventy pounds.  I simple wore the bag all day.  It was heavy as all hell at first and very difficult to move around.  It hurt my back and I could feel the burn in my legs and core as well.  However, I do know that the “burn” associated with exercise is one’s muscles tearing and repairing themselves that makes them stronger.  I would take my daughter Cydney for walks in her stroller a good two miles a day.  Slowly but surely, I didn’t even realize the bag was on my back.  It had become an extension of me and I would add more weight to it.  Eventually I moved onto other exercises and experiences; but this was the catalyst to do so.  I’d dropped down to 185lbs and eventually gained an extra 30lbs of muscle.  I’m healthier, stronger, able to take on more weight, and I can help others do the same.

I use this metaphor because it is a parallel of how to view one’s negative experiences from past relationships.  They are crushing, can be extremely burdensome, and feel like it is impossible to move on from.  Make a choice and follow through with it.  After grieving, moving on usually starts off with being in some kind of survival mode.  That can be anything from retreating to denial or even indulging in one’s vice a little bit.  Not always healthy; but sometimes in order to survive an animal has to chew a leg off to get out of a trap.  You take things one day at a time.  Trying to move around with this burdensome hurt can seem futile and even impossible some days.  In time you won’t even notice it’s there.

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