I just recently took a business trip to Austin and Houston. In typical Erin fashion, I packed way too many bags for my four day trip. I had a full bag of boots, booties, and flats, clothes stuffed into a pink polka dot duffle that was bursting at the seams, and three other accessory, jewelry, and make up bags. I added another bag after my first day in Austin.
After checking out of my hotel in Austin on Tuesday morning and carrying my bags to my car, I was kicking myself- metaphorically speaking, of course. They were heavy. They were excessive. It was early and I was tired from a day of driving and another day of working out of my element. Luckily it was early, so I wasn’t drained for the day yet.
My drive to Houston was easy, but about 30 minutes in, my AC turned to hot air. For the next two and a half hours, my car was a sauna. It was only 70 degrees or so, but it was really uncomfortable. I drove straight to the Houston campus and worked for 4 hours.
I was tired. I was so exhausted. I had barely had any water and just wanted rest. It was getting dark outside and I knew I needed to get to my home for the night and settle in.
After getting to the hotel, I opened my trunk to grab my bags. They seemed to have gained 10 pounds between the cities. I waddled into the hotel to encounter a long line of people waiting to check in. After about five minutes of standing in line, my shoulders started throbbing. The bags were weighing down on my frame. I was still third in line and was getting really frustrated. I knew if I put the bags down, I wouldn’t be able to get them back on. I looked to see if there was a luggage cart nearby, but I saw none in sight.
I noticed the guy in front of me had only one bag. He had a smile on his face and seemed fairly pleasant. How was he able to carry one small bag? How was he smiling when we had been waiting for soooo long. He barely had any baggage weighing him down.
That’s when I started to realize how much my own personal baggage was weighing me down.
The truth is, I let it. I’m the one who packed five pairs of boots that I didn’t need. I’m the one who had an entire bag for just my hair stuff. I’m the one who kept adding on and letting it grow.
I do that in my life. I bring a lot of things upon myself.
I sometimes still let a label and my past baggage define who I am.
Side note- I started this post on 3/20/15 before I finished my “Peaches” post. I know in that post I talk about being okay with who I am in the moment I am in. And that’s so entirely true.
But keep in mind that I’m human and so very flawed (SHOCKER!) I’m JUST learning these things about acceptance of myself and being okay in my own skin. It’s still somewhat uncomfortable.
Labels are an interesting thing. I once wrote about my “labels” that were defining me. In that post, I shared about how in my recovery groups, I have to identify as a very specific thing- and I don’t like it. I’ve come to terms with it today and that is fine. Labels remind me where I came from. Labels remind me where I don’t want to be.
But labels add to my baggage.
Sure, I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict in recovery. Yes, I had an eating disorder that shook me to my core and labeled me as a bulimic. Yes, I’ve been diagnosed by a “shrink” as OCD. I’m a control freak. I’m a worrier. I’m a “basic white girl”. I’m awkward. (So, SO awkward…) I’m friendly… usually. I’m chatty. I’m a goof. I’m this and I’m that and I’m that and I’m this.
No, wait. Stop.
I’m simply Erin.
I’m reminded of a skit I watched on baggage once. My scenario in the hotel reminded me of this very skit. Then I started thinking- what if I was to take every single one of my “labels” coupled with all of my past “mistakes”? Let’s say I took each of those labels and mistakes and wrote them one by one in sharpie on a decent sized rock. One, two, even three rocks might be enough for me to take. Heck, I could probably hold about five in the palm of my hand before I started complaining. Eventually, I’d need to get something to carry them in. I’d keep adding more of my labels that “define” me and keep piling on the mistakes I’ve made (and continue to make) until eventually I had bags upon bags filled with this heaviness weighing down on me. My metaphorical rocks are weighing down on my soul.
Like the bag filled with boots, the duffle filled with unnecessary clothing, the excessive bags of jewelry, accessories, and make up, I’m overwhelmed by my baggage. I’m overwhelmed by the identity that rests on my labels of who I once was or who I am.
When I finally got up to my hotel room, I dropped all the bags on my bed. I collapsed happily as the weight was finally lifted. I felt free.
I’m working on abandoning my labels. I’m not forgetting them. I simply just don’t want to identify with one specific thing, because it then becomes my crutch or my escape.
In my Regen program I have recently started, we identify as ourselves and our recovery through Christ. We then say our struggles- not our labels. Don’t get me wrong- the programs of which I have been a part for many years have been and will always be active in my life. They led me to sobriety in a lot of different areas. I used to turn my nose up at those that scoffed at the label “alcoholic”. I do think it’s important to say it to reiterate a piece of my story. I am fortunate for those labels because they helped mold me.
I just don’t want that, or any label I’ve had attached to my name, to entirely define who I am. I don’t want my baggage to weigh me down. I want to continually feel that freedom that I felt when I took off the luggage and laid on that hotel bed.
Slowly but surely, I’m unpacking those bags. It’s painful and it’s messy and it’s not always fun, but I’m working on it. I’m working on me. I know a lot of my posts are similar and about abandoning this “old me”. I think it’s because I’m in a period where I’m recognizing that I’m ever-changing each day. And for that, I’m grateful. I’m truly grateful.