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Baggage

January 27, 2011

At an event the other night, a couple of friends and I were talking about baggage. There are so many different kinds of baggage that you could have, but most everyone has some. Maybe you have a rolling carry-on bag worth of baggage, or maybe a knapsack. Perhaps you just have a little fanny pack that ties around your waist, or maybe you have a matching five-piece set of luggage that you have to check before you get on the plane (and pay an overage fee). If you are particularly well-adjusted, you may just have a little bag at the end of a stick you carry around, like what you’d pack if you were a kid running away from home (thanks to Lindsay and Trevor for the references).

This would be the ideal amount of baggage to carry around

 

Upon Googling baggage, I came across this article on the Marie Claire website. The author identifies the types of baggage women have as the following: ex-boyfriend baggage (can’t get over the ex), appetite baggage (control issues with food), family baggage (unstable family situation), mystery baggage (anything that will cause someone to act irrationally) and waiting to be hurt baggage, defined in the article as:

“This kind of baggage causes people to interpret harmless events in the relationship, and/or things that are said as a sign that things are going to start going poorly. If someone is living in paranoia throughout the relationship, assuming things will go badly, it will eventually wear on the other person and drive them away. Also, a person who assumes they will be hurt cannot trust anyone – and trust is the core of any relationship.”

Bingo. Epiphany. Light bulbs going off left and right. Oh, and an angel just got its wings. I’m not here to pretend that this is the only kind of baggage I have (not by a long shot), but I definitely have “waiting to be hurt” baggage. And I can’t blame this baggage on only my ex fiancé. I’ve had it as long as I can remember. It started as early as when I was 17 and the Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater cheated on me. Then, I entered the relationship with my ex fiancé already suspecting the worst.

My ex and I spoke on the phone a few weeks ago. It was one of the best conversations that we have had since we cancelled the wedding. Every other conversation was so emotionally driven – they generally consisted of me alternating between crying, blaming, yelling, threatening, purposefully saying hurtful things and the opposite end of the spectrum: telling him how much I loved him and pretending things were fine. None of these feelings and behaviors were conducive to a genuine conversation.

Now that I’ve had the time to come to terms with everything that has happened, I wanted to talk with him about our relationship. I wanted to put it under the microscope, in a way, and see where we went wrong. Particularly, where I went wrong. Because, you see, I want to let go of my baggage. It’s heavy and cumbersome. I want to learn whatever there is to learn from my seven years with this man. None of this is to say that I am denying his faults in the relationship or that I’ve forgotten where he failed me and genuinely did me wrong. But, I wanted to learn what I could have done better. No one is perfect, after all.  

On our two-hour phone call, I asked him, where had I gone wrong? What should I learn from my relationship with him, and my actions in our relationship, going into my future relationships? Trust me, this wasn’t an easy question to ask. I wasn’t positive I wanted to hear the answer.

What resulted was a conversation that made me take some ownership for how my baggage impacted our relationship. He told me that the main thing he thought I should work on going into any future relationships was my lack of trust. When we first starting dating, I was the young age of 18. From the very beginning, I didn’t completely trust him. I checked his cell phone from the word go. I wasn’t sure for what I was looking, but I knew it when I found it.  

Just a few months into our relationship, I found text messages between him and this girl he knew from high school. They were mostly innocuous, but there were points in the conversation where she said things like, “Hey sexy” and “Sweet dreams.” Of course, this put me into a fit of jealousy, and I called her to ask what was going on. She said that she was happily married, and that their conversations were completely innocent. That’s just the way she talks and texts. I remember asking her what her husband would think about her calling my boyfriend sexy. She agreed that it was probably inappropriate.

I look back at that time, and I am embarrassed at my behavior. There were a few problems with this picture:

A: If I wanted to be with my ex and trusted him, I should never have been looking at his phone.

B: If I didn’t trust him enough that I felt the need to look at his phone, especially so soon in the relationship, then I shouldn’t have been with him in the first place.

C: If I looked at his phone anyway, and found something I didn’t like, it wasn’t for me to take it up with the girl. It was my boyfriend with whom I needed to talk.

My ex fiancé now says that after that moment, he never felt like I trusted him. He was embarrassed that I called the girl, and it bothered him that I basically ended his friendship with her. And, that moment showed him that even if something was innocent, I would never understand, and it would be easier to just hide things from me than explain them and have me not believe him.

To this day, I don’t know the true nature of their relationship. Frankly, I don’t care. But, that situation began years of me randomly looking this phone. I’d casually check about once every six months or so, or more if we were going through a rough patch. Most often, he knew I was doing it, because I’d do it right in front of him. Sometimes I found legitimately suspicious things that made me question him, and when I questioned him, he often lied and got defensive. I was never the crazy stalker girlfriend, but there were times when I had this sneaking suspicion something was going on behind my back. Maybe it was intuition, or maybe I was being irrational and untrusting. I found out at the end that he lied to me about a lot, so maybe I was just being smart. And now, I’m wondering, maybe my distrust encouraged him to be untrustworthy. If I didn’t trust him no matter what he did, what was the point in telling the truth? Or doing the right thing in the first place?

I can’t answer all these questions, but it has me thinking very seriously about how I want to be in my next relationship. I do not want to be the girlfriend that checks his cell phone. I don’t want to be the wife who doesn’t believe my husband is working late and immediately assumes he’s having an affair. I don’t want to read his e-mails over his shoulder, or worse, hack into his e-mail account when he’s not around.

Frankly, this is all hard to come to terms with, because being that kind of suspicious woman is what helped me realize all that was going on behind my back with my ex. If I had been completely trusting of him, I wouldn’t have found everything out and I’d be married right now. But part of me also wonders what the situation would have been if I had trusted him from the beginning of our relationship and given him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure. Maybe everything would have been the same, only I would have been oblivious to the truth. Or maybe my trust for him would have helped him be a trustworthy person. Maybe it’s like the studies about expectations and results for school children – the more you expect of children, and communicate you expect them to do great things, the more they achieve.

Luggage baggage piled up

Photo courtesy of Shanghai Daddy

I want to believe that I have learned these lessons. I hope that in my next relationship, I will take the attitude of, “I trust you until you give me a reason not to,” instead of the attitude I had with my ex fiancé of, “Men have let me down, so to get my trust, you must earn it.” But to be honest, I’m not sure how to get there. My “waiting to be hurt” and my “men will always let you down” baggage just feels so strong, so overwhelming. And everything that happened with my ex fiancé has only added to my baggage. Now, I feel like it’s piling on top of me, crushing me and I can’t quite get out from beneath it.

What kind of baggage do you have? What do you think about trust – is to be earned, or does everyone deserve to be trusted until they prove you otherwise? Any suggestions on getting over baggage?


79 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2011 8:48 am

    I have so much baggage I could open my own airline. Trust is one of those tricky things. It actually has nothing to do with your partner and has everything to do with how you see yourself. If you believed in yourself and had more selfworth, you would understand how terrific you are and realize people don’t set out to hurt you. Love yourself and believe you are wonderful. Then see what happens.

    • February 1, 2011 9:48 pm

      Edmonton: Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you have about as much baggage as I do!! I would agree that it has a lot to do with how you see yourself (and how much self esteem and self worth you have) but I do think that part of it does have to do with your partner. Some people just act suspiciously…and you can be the most confident person in the world and know damn well you are amazing, but the guy just still loses your trust. But you are right – most people don’t set out to hurt you. I forget that sometimes, especially after being hurt, but your comment is a good reminder. Thanks!

  2. January 27, 2011 9:14 am

    This post resonates so strongly with me. Wow. You totally captured every thought I’ve ever had. You ask such valid questions… What came first? The chicken or the egg.

    • February 1, 2011 9:49 pm

      Butter & Honey – EXACTLY! I almost actually said chicken or egg in the post. Glad I’m not the only one out there struggling with this!

  3. January 27, 2011 9:15 am

    I’m going to do something I usually don’t do….weigh in early. Trust is always a choice. Even if someone did everything right, they can’t make you trust them if you don’t want to. There are many things we can do to foster that trust so that it is reciprocated in kind(not lying is a good start), but ultimately we control whether we trust someone or not.
    And as far as baggage, I guess it depends on how you pack. There are plenty of items in the closet that you could take on your trip, but do you really need those 10 pairs of shoes for a 3 day weekend? Just in case?
    You will always get hurt in any kind of relationship. It happens. The real question is whether you can take it and is the chance of living and loving again worth it?
    From one who has been through it and choosing…

    • January 27, 2011 11:02 am

      Agreed. The is exactly spot-on and you know I’d try to say the same thing in far too many sentences: “Trust is always a choice.”

      • February 1, 2011 10:13 pm

        Nikki,
        I like the “Trust is always a choice” too. I guess I never really looked at it that way!

    • February 1, 2011 9:51 pm

      Chris:
      Thanks for weighing in… early and at all. It’s good to her a male’s perspective. I like how you said that trust is a choice. For so long I’ve just had the attitude of “it is what it is. I’m not going to trust people easily.” Perhaps if I look at it a choice more, I’ll be able to more easily overcome it. Thanks for your comment!

  4. January 27, 2011 9:17 am

    All I can say is, stay Sweet and honest. The right Guy will Be there for you. ((((((Hugs)))))

    • February 1, 2011 9:51 pm

      Aww, thank you Ashley. You have such positive energy and I really appreciate it!

  5. 2NewBeginnings permalink
    January 27, 2011 9:35 am

    Wow, I have this same problem going into my new relationship. Baggage and how to unpack it. Trust is a huge thing, you either have it or you don’t. You don’t want to get hurt so you try to protect yourself, only in the end I think you can cause problems and issues to creep into your relationship that might not have been there, if you could have just unpacked the baggage and put it away in the closet for good. It’s a hard concept, and one that I have not been able to achieve myself YET. But, I guess we just have to love ourselves and know in our hearts that we are worth a lot more than we give ourselves credit. And that is something worth trusting in. I have to believe that if I show confidence in myself and that I am worth a lot, even on those days I don’t “feel” it, my new relationship will have a better chance at survival and my boyfriend will feel the same about me and our relationship. If he doesn’t, then it will ultimately come out in the end whether I trusted or not. Good luck in your future relationships, I look forward to reading what others think about this topic. Cause I think this haunts a lot of people, especially women who have been a doormat for so many men.

    • February 1, 2011 9:57 pm

      2NewBeginnings: I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with this problem. And you are totally right, in the act of protecting yourself, you certainly aren’t protecting the relationship. You could be really hurting it. It’s a good strategy (hell, at least it’s worth a try) to show confidence in yourself, in your worth, and that you are a catch – and hopefully the person you are with will agree and treat you the way you deserve. Can’t hurt to try, right?

  6. January 27, 2011 9:48 am

    I have always been the “trust until you give me reason not to.” I try to see the good in people until they give me a reason not too. There have been people that give me the heebie jeebies the moment I met them & just couldn’t warm up, but don’t believe the first impression is the one to keep (ex…my husband is horrible at interviews & first meetings, but after that he is warm and inviting).
    There is always a learning from your past relationships, but you have to purge the bad and take the good. Take what you learned from you ex and change it to positive information & work through to lighten the baggage.
    I used to have a nice size bag to check in from emotional baggage, then one day (after several years of heartache and back pain from carrying it around) I let it go. It was taking so much energy to carry it, and it wasn’t worth it anymore.
    It’s kinda like unpacking after a long vacation, you come home with so much more then you left with. While unpacking you trash the junk, look at & move past the not-so-great such, and keep the happiest bits.

    • February 1, 2011 10:00 pm

      The Mommy: Thanks for your advice. It’s good to hear that you used to have troubles with baggage and you’ve been able to let it go. Gives me some hope yet. I do want to trust people until they give me a reason not to – it just seems to be a much better way to live. Appreciate the comment!

  7. January 27, 2011 10:02 am

    Many years ago someone cheated on me and at first it hit me hard – I wanted answers from her as to how and why she could do that to me. She didn’t have any answers for me. My recovery came from finding my own answers. She was young and scared of commitment and felt the need to push me away to protect herself from being vulnerable.

    Settling on this explanation to myself freed me from wanting anything (information/explanation) from her and I think it also freed me from the potential baggage. After that I didn’t think “any woman might well cheat on me” – I thought “a woman with the issues that she had might well cheat on me.” A few months later I began a six-year relationship with a very different woman and I can’t remember ever having had difficulty in trusting her fidelity (the relationship ended last year but for different reasons.)

    • February 1, 2011 10:05 pm

      Matt: Wow, what a great way to take your situation. Why can’t I be more like you?!! I would totally be like, “What did I do to make him cheat on me?” and importantly, “Wow, guess all men are gonna cheat.” You are an inspiration for me :)

  8. January 27, 2011 10:15 am

    I definitely have some trust issues, but with every day that goes by, they diminish. There’s hope yet!

    • February 1, 2011 10:06 pm

      Thoughtsappear: It’s good to hear yours are diminishing. Moving in the right direction! I’m trying to take a page from your book :)

  9. Nikki permalink
    January 27, 2011 10:16 am

    Ok- A)There was something, maybe subconciously, that told you to check his phone and the fact that you actually found something inappropriate proved that you were right to be suspicious. Even after this “innocent” situation, you continued to find suspicious activity on his phone.
    B)don’t ever think that someone is acting untrustworthy because you don’t trust them. That’s BS. And someone who shouldn’t be trusted will say to you “I lied because I knew you wouldn’t believe me anyway” BS, BS, BS!!! If they lie to you,they shouldn’t be trusted. If something is innocent there should be no reason to lie about it.
    C)I don’t have a problem with checking a significant other’s email, phone, etc. in the early stages of a relationship. If you can trust them, there will be nothing suspicious to find. And, after a few times snooping and finding nothing your trust will be earned and you won’t check anymore.
    D)TRUST your GUT!!! If your gut tells you something is going on then something is probably going on. Trust me ;o)

    PS- when are we going to get the Chef post you promised?!?!?!

    • February 1, 2011 10:11 pm

      Hey Nikki, thanks for your comment.
      A) I agree with you about this. But what I’m thinking now is that if I felt that way, if I really felt that I was going to find someone, I should have stopped looking and broken up with him. But I do think that my intuition was telling me something.
      B) I want to agree with you 100% on this, but I’m a little torn. I do think there is something to be said for self fulfilling prophesies. I don’t think I CAUSED him to be untrustworthy, but there is something to be said for no matter how good you do, it’s never good enough, can eat away at a person and make them act poorly. I’m not saying this is right or anything, but I do think this happens.
      C) I used to feel this way… if I look a couple of times, and I find nothing, it will build my trust! What I found, though, is that satisfying the urge to look (it’s almost like a craving or a bad habit) can actually make your urge to look later even stronger. Then it becomes and ongoing problem. Well, it was for me anyway. My goal is to not even go down this path at all with the next guy.
      D) EXACTLY!!! I’ve definitely learned that this year. My intuition and my gut is almost always right. I’m trying to trust it much more and give it the credit it deserves.

      RE: The Chef update… I’m working on it! LOL. I appreciate the interest, I’ve just been struggling to put the words together and I don’t even really know what we are doing, so it’s hard to write a post about it! I’m trying to write something for this week —this topic has just given me a bit of writer’s block.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!!

  10. January 27, 2011 11:06 am

    Such a big topic- you could probably do a whole blog on the issues of baggage/trust. You said that your own baggage feels like it’s weighing you down, and that you don’t know how to get rid of it… and I really think that by writing posts like this, and carefully thinking about these issues, you’re taking the first steps. “Issues” don’t disappear on their own, and the bigger ones will linger around forever especially if they are always being pushed down or avoided. Or fed. Identifying your baggage is the beginning, and starting to think about why it’s there and where it came from is the next step. I think you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing. In some cases, it may be easy to just let go of your baggage, but I don’t really think this is often the case. It takes work, and often a willingness to take an honest look at yourself. It’s hard.

    Also, I’m a firm believer in open communication in relationships. Always. (which can be hard, I know). I don’t think that much good can come from snooping (such a funny word!).

    This was a great post- so open and honest. Thank you for sharing!

    • February 1, 2011 10:15 pm

      Streelight: You are right on, I think there is just so much to write about this topic. I do hope that writing posts like this and exploring my issues is helping me. It feels like I’m improving, but then a few days go by and I feel exactly the same – suspicious and untrusting and overwhelmed with everything that’s happened in the past. I hope long term, though, I’ll be progressing in the right direction. Small steps…
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  11. January 27, 2011 11:14 am

    Hey look! Two Nikkis in a row! (…although my name really isn’t Nikki…)

    Anyways. I actually kind of disagree with Nikki. I don’t think invasion of someone else’s privacy is ok. Ever. If they’re doing something shady, they’ll find a way to do it, regardless of what you check. If they’re not, you’re just behaving badly and putting a strain on the relationship by inviting issues in that weren’t there before.

    ESPECIALLY early in a relationship, your place is not all up in their biznez.

    That being said. You can’t expect a relationship to do well if you don’t have trust FIRST. It is something that’s lost, not something you earn. As for dealing with your issues with it? Girl, you need to spend some time on your own, loving yourself and learning what makes you happy and getting comfy in your own skin. I wonder how much of that is a problem (hey, we all have issues, let’s be honest) for why you assume bad things will happen to you. You know? Once you can be happy yourself, you won’t need all that drama (I know you don’t actually NEED it…).

    Sure. Going with “trust first” means someone can very well take advantage of that in the future. But you know what? There is nothing you can do about that. BUT you can’t live your life trying to sniff them out first – live your life as if they won’t. It is far, far better than the alternative – for you, for how you live, for your own happiness, and for the health of your future relationships.

    THAT BEING SAID. Sounds to me like the you and the ex had some significant issues, and should have broken up way before 7 years and an engagement. I’m not surprised he lied to you – and I agree with Nikki (above) on the whole “you wouldn’t have believe me so I went ahead and lied.” STFU, dude. If you love someone and they have trust issues, you don’t say “oh, well, guess I’ll just go with that.” Yeah, no. You either decide not to handle it AT ALL and peace out – or you help them get through it. Sorry – he sounds like more of a DB than you give him credit for. I know you’re trying to be fair, and yeah you were def no princess, but don’t let him weasel his way out of bad behavior either – just because you weren’t well behaved yourself.

    What is with me and “behavior” today? I’m sorry – seems like poor word choice. But I think I’ve gone on long enough! :D Great post – regardless!

    • January 31, 2011 9:05 pm

      I totally completely agree with this! I don’t think snooping is ever ok – but it’s not an out to be a DB either!

      • February 1, 2011 10:59 pm

        vinomom,
        I agree with you as well. Snooping is a sign you aren’t with the right person – either they are untrustworthy, or you are not ready to trust. Either way it’s not a good deal!

    • February 1, 2011 10:21 pm

      Nikki,
      Love having two Nikkis with opposing views :)
      I agree with you that snooping and being all in someone’s business is not healthy for a relationship. Everyone deserves their privacy and I do believe that this is an unnecessary invasion of privacy… which can ruin a relationship (and if you do it too early, it’ll ruin the relationship before it has even had the chance to develop.)
      Of course what you said about no longer needing all the drama resonated with me… ahh, I do enjoy drama. I mean, I generally don’t say, “Hey I’m going to do this, cause that would cause drama in my life and drama=good.” It’s more like I act a certain way, and then look back weeks later and think, “Wow, I totally did that for the added drama factor.” Definitely something I’m working on.
      Thanks for putting so much thought into your comment. I will have to say that I agree with some of the things you’ve said about my ex (but I don’t go too deep into this side of things because this blog is more about me… I don’t want to defame him or put him down. Doesn’t improve me, now does it?). I’ll say that I do think that since I always had this sneaking suspicion (stronger at some points in our relationship) that something wasn’t quite right, we probably should have ended the relationship sooner. But I loved him. I was comfortable. I thought he was it for me. And I didn’t trust my own intuition enough and just thought I was being ridiculous. Lessons learned all around.

  12. Just Saying permalink
    January 27, 2011 11:15 am

    Ugh. I’ve had this exact relationship with my ex (mine was 13 yrs)
    We’ve been apart a year now, and this posting has given me some better insight to move on!
    Woot! I had trust issues with this particular ex. And every time we got back together I never trusted him. So why keep doing it? (hence ending it all for once and all Dec 09)

    I’m not a jealous person. Well maybe of my friends success etc. But never of b/f’s.
    If he’s given me a reason to be or thrives off making me crazy, he gets dumped. (with the exception of the last one).

    I believe everyone should be trusted, given the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise.
    If you don’t trust in yourself (self esteem, confidence etc) you’ll never trust anyone else.

    My lesson has been learned.

    • February 1, 2011 10:23 pm

      Just Saying: One of the main reasons I didn’t want to get back with my ex was that I would never trust him again. Hell, if I had trust issues throughout the relationship, I was CRAZY untrusting at the end. If I stayed with him, if we’d gotten married, I would have spent my lifetime checking up on him. And he would have spent his lifetime with a crazy wife. Neither of us would have been happy. And our relationship certainly would never have the same — we would never be as happy. I truly believe this.
      Glad you learned your lesson. I’m trying to take a page out of your book now.

  13. January 27, 2011 11:38 am

    Catherine, you always seem to post on the topics I need to talk about. Thank you for sharing.

    You relationship with your ex shares many similarities to mine. I would say, though, that I was perhaps too trusting, when I should have had a more critical lens. He never cheated (God knows I’ve probed him about this one), but he did do the “I didn’t tell you because…” line, or “I didn’t think it was a big deal…” a.k.a. you would be pissed if you found out. I now get scared that I will turn into the crazy girlfriend inquiring about EVERYTHING with the next guy.

    First, don’t beat yourself up for lacking trust in him. Take it as a learning experience. The fact that you recognize it now will only make you smarter, better in the long run. There is some element of ‘be the change you want to see’ or ‘be the person you want the other person to be’, but don’t criticize yourself for your previous actions. Acknowledge that it happened (perhaps ‘for a reason’) and try to move forward. Hindsight is an amazing thing.

    Now you have the foresight to do what is right for you and give people the benefit of the doubt the next time.

    **Maybe you can do anothe rpost as to why I/we write off certain guys automatically based on background, having kids, having an ex, job, grammar, etc. I like your 401K rule. Let’s talk about THEIR baggage (and not ours).

    • February 1, 2011 10:28 pm

      KD,
      As always, I’m glad to serve :) Haha, in all seriousness, I really am happy that my blog posts are able to touch on things you are thinking/feeling.
      I know how you feel about being scared you are going to inquire about everything with your next guy. I feel the same way. I felt myself starting to do it a little with Chef, but I stopped myself. Or tried to anyway. I think it’s going to be part of me for a long time, but at least I’m working on it. I wish you luck too – this isn’t easy, this improving our ourself and giving ourselves the freedom to love again (fully and completely), now is it?

      Re: Love the idea for another post. This has generally been in the back of my head but I can’t seem to put words to it. But maybe sometime soon. And you know…. you are always welcome to write a Simply Solo Spotlight for me! :) Just email me at simplysoloblog@gmail.com if you are interested.

  14. January 27, 2011 12:30 pm

    This post, like so many others you’ve written, rings true to me. I am the baggage queen, and it’s something I’ve always blamed on my first love, who walked out on me with no explanation or even a goodbye (that was six years ago, I’ve still never heard from him, and he is now married).

    But this year, even in the last month, I’ve been on a mission to rid myself of this baggage—suitcases full of anxiety that make me think every single man will walk out on me with zero closure. And then, it hit me, the daddy issues. My dad walked out on my mom and I when I was 16, with no warning, no words.

    Now I’m trying to face my demons, maybe pull a Brad Womack and go to therapy, and isolate my dating situations (i.e. not every guy is like my dad).

    I think the only way to a truly successful future is to close up the past. We will see!

    Thanks for this post!

    -Lucky

    • February 1, 2011 10:41 pm

      Lucky,
      Wow, who wouldn’t carry around baggage after someone did that to them? That’s incredible (and not in a good way). I’m really sorry that you went through that. I can imagine that would be a really hard thing to let go of.
      As far as Daddy issues… girl, you are talking to the queen of Daddy issues. I feel you completely. And those issues can be the very hardest to get over, aren’t they??
      I love the “pull a Brad Womack and go to therapy.” Perhaps I need to consider that as well… been there in the past, have found it helpful, but I always sorta gave up. Like a low carb diet, I enjoyed it for a couple of weeks or a month at a time, but fell right off the wagon. You know?
      Thanks for your comment.

  15. January 27, 2011 12:47 pm

    Catherine,

    Congrats on finding a little clarity about yourself. If you’re anything like me (and most others) it can be sometimes difficult to find our own ‘errors’. So, kudos to you.

    In the past, I had gone through a couple relationships that tested my trust towards others. I had always been the type of person to ‘trust first until given a reason not to'; or as I often put in Blind Trust. That was until I was burned a couple times and suddenly I found myself incredibly guarded.

    When I was later entering a relationship with a new girl my protective shields were up. But it wasn’t until she called me out on it that I realized I was so protected. I missed who I formally was, the Blind Trusting type of guy. So, when she told me she wanted to jump forward in our relationship (and for me to do the same) I just couldn’t do it.

    I told her I needed time to find that missing aspect of Me that I missed.

    The way I see it, doing so likely saved us from entering a deeper relationship that would have started troubles and snowballed.

    We lost touch, but after about a year we reconnected and are still friends (she’s now traveling abroad).

    You’re right, we all have baggage. But I think the most difficult part isn’t getting rid of that load, but realizing you’ve got it to begin with.

    • January 27, 2011 5:42 pm

      Catherine, meet Matt. He’s my husband’s best friend and an awesome guy. *wink* *wink*
      :)

      • February 1, 2011 11:01 pm

        Oh, haha, just now making this connection. Nice to meet you Matt…and thanks for the introduction Katie! :)

    • February 1, 2011 10:45 pm

      Matthew,
      What a great comment. Thanks for sharing your story. See, I’ve never (ever) been the Blind Trusting type of person, but I am so much in awe of those kinds of people. I think it is great that you were honest with this girl, and while the story of you two did not end in “and then we got back together and she’s my soul mate and we are living happily ever after!”, I think the learnings you got about yourself are so valuable.
      For me, it’s not hard to recognize flaws that often. I am my own worst critic. But – I do struggle with finding my faults when someone else has clearly done me wrong. It’s so easy to blame them for EVERYTHING, you know what I mean? Even if someone treated your horribly and did you very wrong… perhaps you did some things wrong too. It doesn’t take away their wrong-doing, but admitting your faults can make you a better person. And that’s what I’m trying to do here.
      Thanks again for your comment – it really made me think!

  16. January 27, 2011 1:30 pm

    My opinion, which may be completely off base and doesn’t really address your question? It seems to me like the ex is turning things around and blaming you for his dishonesty. You even question that yourself, wondering if your distrust caused his untrustworthiness. I don’t believe that’s possible, and it’s a cop-out for him to suggest such a thing. Obviously I don’t have all the intimate details of your relationship (I burned the Polaroids you sent, I swear), but it just seems to me like the one carrying the majority of baggage in this case is your ex, not you. I don’t think you did anything wrong. I also think that you can be that person who doesn’t obsessively check texts and e-mails in your next relationship. Obviously you are going to have trust issues no matter what, but explain your past to your next guy in advance and allow him to earn your trust. I think you’ll be fine that way.

    • February 1, 2011 10:50 pm

      Mark,
      You are probably right, there is a bit of blaming in his criticism. It probably does feel good to him to take a little of the load (and the blame) off of himself. You are also right that I KNOW I can be a person who is not crazy jealous and obsessively checking on the person I’m with. That’s not something that’s within me – I do believe it’s the violation of someone’s rights and no one wants to be in a relationship with a untrusting jealous control freak. I know I’m capable of not checking up on my next boyfriend. I think it’s all about starting on the right foot- and knowing that this behavior is not acceptable. Because once you start, it’s really hard to stop. I am definitely going to be honest with my next guy about my trust issues, and what I’m working on, and if he’s the right guy for me, he’ll also help me by earning my trust and working that much harder.

      Thanks for your comment. Now, go burn those Polaroids. Seriously this time. :)

  17. annie permalink
    January 27, 2011 4:31 pm

    I am in the exact same position as you, called off wedding, lies, betrayal, etc. (Actually occurred about the same time as yours).

    I agree that while certainly we are not to blame for lies/betrayal, it is important to
    look at our role in the situation. For me, my role was choosing to overlook character flaws and behaviors that he exhibited during the relationship that I should have acknowledged earlier. For the most part, everything seemed great and he treated me wonderfully and I was very happy. However, like you, there was a part of me that did not trust him. I blamed it on my issues, and I didn’t have any evidence to validate the lack of trust. However, I think intuitively/subconsciouly I recognized that he didn’t have the character and integrity I projected him to have. I found ways to justify or minimalize things that should have been a bigger deal to me and that maybe were red flags.

    So, basically I guess what I’m saying is, in my similiar situation, the issue wasn’t that I didn’t trust him. The issue was I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t trust my intuition and feelings. I wanted to believe that he had strong morals and values, and overlooked signs that he didn’t. Ultimately, I was shocked when I found out the truth.

    Obviously, you and I are different people in a similar situation, but for me I’m thinking maybe my problem is not about learning to trust someone else, but learning to chose someone who is trustworthy and not settling for someone who isn’t? Perhaps if the person is trustworthy, then the issue of not trusting them becomes less of an issue?

    I don’t believe your expectations of him and the lack of trust had anything to do with his lying and betrayal. I believe a person with integrity and values would never find it even an option to betray and lie to another person, It just isn’t in their nature. Maybe
    not trusting him was your intuition picking up subconsciously on signs that he didn’t value honesty to the same degree that you did?

    Good luck, I think it sounds like you are doing a great job of sorting through the old baggage. That’s the first step towards getting rid of it!

    • January 28, 2011 8:59 am

      OMG. Wow. That’s it! Eureka! I know we have to recognize our own shortcomings, but I think sometimes we take on too much blame when it’s unnecessary. You described my situation perfectly.

    • February 1, 2011 10:57 pm

      Annie,
      What a great comment, thank you. We do have so much in common…. so much of what you’ve said here are things I’ve thought myself. In many ways, I too projected who I wanted my ex to be onto him, creating in ways a person that wasn’t really there. I closed my eyes to the things I didn’t like about him (I thought I was loving him for who he was, but in reality, I was denying who he was) because I so much wanted him to be right for me. Sometimes, I wonder if I made him out to be better than he was in my mind. This was most evident when I defended his actions to my friends and family, or when I made excuses for him in my head. I think we all do this – but it just depends on what issues you choose to ignore (they better not be the deal breakers!).

      I love the thought that maybe we’ll be different if we are with someone else. If we are with someone who is totally trustworthy, perhaps we’ll be more trusting. God, I hope so. Your comment definitely gave me the hope I need!

      Good luck with your recovery – It’s so hard to sort out all the feelings when you end a relationship that you thought was going to end in marriage and forever. I hope you are doing well!

  18. January 27, 2011 5:43 pm

    DANG it, Catherine! I thought I didn’t have any “real” baggage until I read this. But the family one? Yeah. That definitely applies to me. Although nowadays it’s pretty normal to have a dysfunctional family. :)

    • February 1, 2011 11:04 pm

      Katie,
      Haha… Everyone has some kind of baggage! Just be happy you don’t have a little bit of each kind, lol. But you are right, I think it’s becoming more normal to have a dynsfunctional family and women with daddy issues are about a dime a dozen. The question I have is, are there more dysfunctional families than ever before? OR….. are we just more open about it now? Not quite sure!

  19. January 27, 2011 6:59 pm

    Hi Catherine, your post really moved me and I identified with a lot of what you wrote. I think the first step is done- that you have recognised the need to trust. That’s half of it. Trust, for me anyway, is something I do for myself. It keeps me sane. I’m not perfect at all but I call myself to order a lot. Everyone has baggage: the one that trusted and got burnt, the one that didn’t trust and drove a lover away or even the one that couldn’t be trusted and is filled with guilt. You’ll be fine. A lot has happened but it appears that you are sensible, beautiful and very smart. This too will pass…. Nice to meet you and nice blog :). K

    • February 1, 2011 11:07 pm

      mybusinessaddiction: Trust can help keep you sane. I have never felt more out of control than right after I found out about my ex’s lies. I stayed up all night checking his email, his phone records, everything I could get my hands on. I wanted to know everything there was to know. I felt compelled to understand the extent of his lies. I was completely out of control. I’m not saying that I needed to trust him at that point (umm, not at all!!), but I’m just saying that trusting someone (when they deserve your trust) can have a truly calming effect. I aspire to have that feeling of trust, calm and SANITY in my next relationship.
      Thanks for your kind words and your comments. I appreciate you reading – and nice to meet you too!

  20. Lost in France permalink
    January 28, 2011 1:37 am

    Great post, because it is so open and honest. A lesson to be learnt for helpping develop healthy relationships.

    If you are not careful these things become self fulfilling prophecies. That was something I saw with my Ex, and it is not nice.
    She would put forward a thought abut what would happen, and then seemingly take a great deal of time and effoert to make it happen.

    Also she had a severe lack of being able to let go of anything. Another imprtant skill I feel that a relationship needs to survive

    • February 1, 2011 11:10 pm

      Lost,
      Thanks for the comment. I totally hear you on the self fulfilling prophecies. That is one of my biggest fears – that I will constantly bring this upon myself (not saying that I brought it upon myself this time, necessarily, but you know what I mean). Like your ex, I need to work on letting go of stuff. Especially with fights – I have the bad habit of drawing out fights for a long time. Appreciate your thoughts on this :)

      • Lost in France permalink
        February 2, 2011 7:45 am

        Letting go of things is the big one.

        We were married 12 years, and my Ex would still bring up things that I had said or did from before we were married. And go on about how much it had hurt her.
        Problem was I no longer had any clear recollection of the incidents in question, so the arguements became pointless.

        If you have mad the decision to move past some supposed wrong, then let it go, and do not dwell on it. It will grow if you feed it and become bigger than it ever was in the first place.
        The important thing is to learn from these experiences, not to almost revel in it

  21. Malin permalink
    January 28, 2011 3:14 am

    Catherine, reading this, it felt kind of sad. I think you may have different kind of baggage called “I blame myself even in cases others screw up”. You probably knew why you didn´t trust even early in that relationship. Maybe you observed something you later tried to suppress, maybe you saw something that didn´t make sense but you wouldn´t make a fuzz about it, maybe there was some rational ground for your distrust. Our choices are sometimes based on our subconscious feelings and observations. You should stop blaming yourself for being with a liar. The logic “I made him that way and he had to lie” is really very unhealthy for you. Just because you didn´t wear your heart on sleeve doesn´t mean you make him cheat and lie. It´s very good for both of you if you can forgive him. I am personally very trusting person UNTIL someone proves I shouldn´t be in his case that naive. I have never tried to check my boyfriend´s email or cell phone, but… sometimes it´s the only way to find the truth, in case you have some serious suspicion.

    • Chad permalink
      January 31, 2011 9:40 am

      I don’t think Catherine is blaming herself. She can only control what she does, not what her partner does. So she’s trying to learn what she has to do to get the relationship she wants.

      • February 1, 2011 11:15 pm

        Chad,
        “She’s trying to learn what she has to do to get the relationship she wants.” EXACTLY! I couldn’t have put this better myself :)

    • February 1, 2011 11:14 pm

      Malin,
      Thanks for your comment. It really warmed my heart and made me feel better. I hear where you are coming from, and I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. But, I also do think I need to take ownership for my behaviors in this relationship, that weren’t always the best. I can’t say I believe I made him lie — he did that on his own and betrayed me on his own. I wish I’d done things a little differently, but if I had to bet money, I wouldn’t say that even if I did things differently that they would have ended differently, you know? But I really appreciate your semi-pep talk. I needed to hear it.

  22. BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
    January 30, 2011 12:24 am

    I have every single type of baggage the article listed. I guess I’m rockin’ the five piece luggage set. At least maybe I can buy a set by Betsey Johnson or something so I look stylish while I’m lugging everything around?
    I also carry the “men have let me down, so to get my trust, you must earn it” attitude. Recently I’ve started taking the “show me what you’ve got and if I don’t see anything bad we can run with this” attitude and it’s been working a hell of a lot better. Yesterday and today I started feeling kind of weird about that attitude but this post has re-inspired me to run with everything. <3

    • February 3, 2011 9:43 pm

      Beneath,
      You and me both – I definitely have more than one type of baggage that the article listed, but I didn’t have the energy to admit them all :). You should totally get a cute Betsy Johnson or Kate Spade set and rock it!
      I think the “show me what you’ve got and if I don’t see anything bad we can run with this” attitude is a good compromise. Baby steps!

  23. January 31, 2011 9:40 am

    I’ve carried my baggage with me from relationship to relationship and each one I felt it weighing me down more and more.
    I’m not saying that this will work for everyone, but I can honestly say that in my current relationship I went from carrying a truck load of baggage to maybe just a fanny pack full. Nothing specific was done to get over the year of collected baggage, just the right guy who from the very beginning deserved every bit of trust.
    Sappy, I know, but it really is the truth.

    Sometimes, it takes work though. I can completely understand why you would have baggage and why it would be so difficult to get over it when starting a new relationship, but my only suggestion is going into the relationship with an open mind so that you at least give him a chance to prove himself.

    • February 3, 2011 9:48 pm

      Amanalynn,
      Thanks so much for this comment. It’s sort of reassuring to believe that maybe it’s not something you have to work and work at, that the right guy who deserves your trust will come along, and the baggage will be reduced. All us baggage carriers can hope for that.
      Open mind…open mind… open mind. Trying to take your advice here :)

  24. Chad permalink
    January 31, 2011 9:54 am

    Great post Catherine! We love your courage to share your deepest thoughts.

    I don’t think you’re responsible for his lying, but….I personally feel a greater responsibility to come through for people when they believe in me. Example: “I knew I could count on you”. “I trust you not to be late”. “I’m sure you can fix this”. And lastly, “you are soo trustworthy”. I feel required to live up to the expectation. Again, personally, I don’t feel that a negative expectation has the same power. I won’t be dishonest just because someone doesn’t trust me. But i will be more honest when someone expects it.

    Also, none of us are all good/honest or all bad/dishonest. We all live on a continuum of honesty and goodness. I think you’re ex was already on the wrong end, but maybe you could have slid him up. Ultimately, he has to take responsibility for his actions. But i think we can make it easier for our significant others to do the right thing.

    • February 3, 2011 9:52 pm

      Chad,
      Wow…what you’ve said to me here makes so much sense. I can’t say I’ve really thought about how believing in someone can cause them to feel a greater sense of responsibility. But I know it to be true – when I feel like someone really cares about me and believes in me, I feel even worse when/if I let them down. Makes you more aware of how your actions impact the other person.
      Thanks so much for your perspective! Can’t tell you how much it means to me!

  25. January 31, 2011 1:38 pm

    Two things came to mind as I was reading your post, Catherine. And, as usual, they totally contradict each other.

    1) Sometimes, I think trust is deeply linked to instinct. If you’re suddenly propelled to check your sweetheart’s phone, and you actually find something that makes your alarms go off, then thank God for trust issues, right? I was head over heels for a guy once. Things were fantastic until one day…I just knew. I don’t know how, but I did. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever checked someone’s voice mail other than my own, but there it was, a steamy message from his ex-girlfriend.

    2) On the other hand, you have to pay attention to other instincts, too. I remember having the baggage discussion with my husband when our relationship was still new. My instincts told me he was the right guy, but I couldn’t get past my baggage. He said, “I know all those other guys hurt you. But there comes a time in every adult’s life where you have to make a decision: do you let your past rule you, or do you decide what you want, and take ownership?”

    He was right. My issues were mine, not his. I had to learn to shed it enough to treat him fairly, or we would never have stood a chance.

    • February 3, 2011 9:56 pm

      Maura,
      Thanks so much for your advice – although contradicting. I felt that gut feeling right before my ex and I broke up. I just felt compelled to look at his computer. I’m so happy that I listened to it, because it was that action that helped me figure everything out.
      I guess it’s just a balance of giving someone your trust, and putting everything you have into a relationship and trying to let go of your baggage, but never ignoring your insticts, intuition or what your heart tells you. That all sounds very daunting, a lot of work and I’m not quite sure how to navigate it, to be honest. It’s a little frustrating – because I truly WANT to trust. I don’t have anything logical in me that says men suck and they will all hurt me. I don’t truly believe that, intellectually. But, throw me in a relationship, and everything I know intellectually gets thrown out the window. Maybe I’ll just read all the comments to this post every time I’m feeling doubtful :)
      Thank you!

  26. January 31, 2011 4:10 pm

    I have what I refer to as “The Restaurant Business Baggage”, or RBB for short. I enter into a relationship knowing that my schedule at work will likely be a topic of conversation about 3-4 months into the relationship. All the holidays, birthdays, government days, weekends spent working become quite a burden on things. That’s why us RBers tend to date others within the RB. This isn’t pretty and it’s borderline depressing. Lots of alcohol and cigarettes and that smell. Not to mention, there is a definite stereotype on those of us in the kitchen. My fellow bretheren and I have to deal with people assuming we are closet cokeheads and drunks when we simply just love to cook and hate offices and ties. It isn’t a flea market of drugs and women and fast times and cool food and world respect. It’s a tough job and it’s rewarding, but it creates a lot of baggage. I guess it could be worse; I could have no baggage and be “No Baggage Baggage” guy. Nice article Catherine! I love a good laugh.

    • February 3, 2011 10:05 pm

      Random Cook,
      I can totally see how RBB would be a problem. I guess you just have to make do with the time that you do have … and really make that time special to make up for the time you don’t have. But I can see how missing holidays, weekends, etc. … that can totally cause a rift in a relationship.

      “It isn’t a flea market of drugs and women and fast times and cool food and world respect.” What? Really?! Well now I’m totally disappointed. Those are the highlights of the RB!! It’s what makes you peeps so cool! Now you are just like me… only you work way more hours. Boo.

      And trust… even if you didn’t have RBB, you would have some sort of baggage. We all have it. Keeps things interesting.

      My suggestion to you is if you start dating a new girl, plan it around a time where there aren’t any significant holidays, birthdays or special occasions you will miss. Get her to fall in love with you -JUST IN TIME for a heavy holiday season when you won’t be around because you are working too much. She’ll be in love, so she’ll stay.
      Man, I should write an advice column…. :)

  27. January 31, 2011 9:52 pm

    First, hi- first time commenter, I am loving your blog. :)
    This post reminds me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother that I saw recently. The whole theme was baggage and it was a really cute/funny story. The central character thought he had baggage, then the girl he was dating turned out to have way, way more. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

    • February 3, 2011 9:58 pm

      Hey Audrey!
      Thanks so much for stopping by. You are totally right, how much baggage you have is all relative. I’ve got my fingers crossed I don’t end up with someone with more baggage than me… that would be nuts! haha :)
      Now I’m going to try and find that episode of How I Met Your Mother (which is currently my favorite show – watching it on reruns like it’s my job!!)
      Thanks again for your comment!

      • February 6, 2011 2:39 pm

        If you haven’t found which episode it is yet, it’s from Season 5 – episode ‘The Wedding Bride’. Love that show.

  28. January 31, 2011 10:01 pm

    Thanks everyone for the awesome comments! You guys have given me a ton to think about. I’ve been a bit busy the past few days, but I will be responding to each of your comments individually this week (sorry for the delay – just gotta find some free time). In the meantime, wow – you guys rock. I appreciate all the thought that went into these comments and there is seriously nothing better than the various perspectives I get from my readers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  29. February 5, 2011 2:08 pm

    Thinking of you. Just a few comments to add to the great perspectives you got already…

    1. think of a boyfriend the same as a girlfriend in the beginning, someone you are getting to know and see if they have character, things in common, and are worth your time – you don’t start out a friendship with a girl you met by asking “should I trust her or not?”, you just start out figuring out who the person is or is not
    2. nothing you do made him lie to you so wipe that thought right out of your head – if a guy you are dating/marrying acted in any way good or bad, would you start lying to him? (answer is no, so let him own his own behaviour)
    3. you don’t need to check the phone or other things to determine if someone is trustworthy – be honest, you already knew he was lying and didn’t want to face it (if I am wrong on this one, let me know) so trust your gut in the next relationship and get out early enough that you don’t feel so invested in making him something more than he is

    • February 5, 2011 7:53 pm

      Tech You are so amazing! You always give the best advice! Go be the new Ann Landers for the Toronto Star :)

    • February 8, 2011 10:55 am

      workingtechmom:
      I ditto what Edmonton says. You are amazing and you give the absolute best advice! You should start an advice column :)
      The last line really got me – “trust your gut in your next relationship and get out early enough that you don’t feel so invested in making him something more than he is…” Right on. I don’t think it’s possible to say that any better or for you to hit the nail on the head any more. THANK YOU!

  30. Cathy permalink
    December 27, 2011 11:22 pm

    This is my first time discovering this blog and all I can think is that I wish I had discovered it a few months earlier when I actually broke up with my ex. I was reading this article about baggage and it really made me think about how I approached my relationship (what baggage I brought in, how it affected the relationship, and what baggage I left with). Much like you, I had been checking my ex’s phone. However, we were both in what we called an “open book relationship” where emails, phones, ect. were open to each other. Also like you, I had found quite a few questionable things in my ex’s email and phone. When I tried to discuss it, defenses became high and the “blame” game would begin. I was thinking about what you wrote about wondering if your “distrust encouraged him to be untrustworthy” and I was reminded what a former counselor told me regarding my cheating ex, that you can only be responsible for you own actions, not how others respond to them. Just something I thought may be helpful. As for baggage, I do have the “waiting to be hurt” baggage, among others and that plus the “open book relationship” is how I found out that my ex cheated. Keep in mind that I am only around 6 months single, but I really wonder how it is possible to enter any relationship with complete trust without it being “earned first”.

    I really enjoy what I have read so far. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    • December 29, 2011 11:29 pm

      Cathy,
      Thank you so much for your comment and sorry to hear about the breakup. But, it sounds like you are doing the work of being introspective and that is important to learn whatever you can from this experience. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog so far. I really enjoyed in your comment when you said, “you can only be responsible for you own actions, not how others respond to them.” You are so right and that is something I need to remind myself more about.
      As far as trust — It is hard to let go when you’ve been let down by others. I think you just need to do your best to come to each relationship with a clean slate. Give them the trust you would want them to give you. But I think you should always keep your eyes open, because your heart is delicate and it’s your job to protect it. I don’t think any of us are required to enter relationships and just close our eyes to everything…. there are signs and there is intuition for a reason. Maybe checking his phone and having that “open book” was necessary because your gut was telling you something was wrong? I mean, that’s why I checked with my ex. I have much less of an urge to check in my new relationship. That definitely means something to me. So I’m working on my trust issues…. one day at a time. Good luck to you!

  31. July 13, 2013 2:11 am

    Reblogged this on The Camille Chronicles and commented:
    This is such a great blog all around, but this post is especially profound. Every woman should read this, single or taken.

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