August 9, 2011

Emotional Baggage...a heritage better left ungifted


Heritage n.
2. Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition.

Our fore fathers, ancestors, predecessors, those who have come before us (whatever you want to call them) have all contributed to who we are.  They have handed down property, possessions, genetics, morals, values...or a lack of these things (except the genetics, of course...).   In some cases, we have not been given anything, other than a desire to be nothing like them.

For better or for worse, we are all products of our heritage.


Today I'd like to write about a specific kind of heritage.  A heritage known as baggage.  Nope, not the kind you take to the airport (althought some of you may have inherited something like that) but more or less this kind...

Baggage n.
2.  Factors that restrict a person's freedom, often in an intellectual or psychological way (example: He's got a lot of emotional baggage.)

Yeah...it stinks...but we all have it and I'm gonna talk about some of mine (why not...I talk about everything else, right?)

Everyone wants to be loved...everyone wants to accepted, welcomed, wanted...right?

No one wants to feel like a nusence, a bother, unaccepted, unwelcome, unwanted...true?

Well...the latter is how I feel far too often. 

I come from a large family.  I am the youngest of 7 kids.  All of you out there that think every youngest child get's "spoiled"...think again.  At least, it wasn't that way in my experience (could be because my mother had all seven of us in 9.5 years...there wasn't really room to spoil).  On the contrary...I was always being teased, ridiculed, and made the butt of every practical joke (E.T. puppet, Annie mask, food color "poisoning" incident...you know who you are you responsible parties...he he).

I was the annoying little sister,  the nuisance, the tag along, the immature one.  The one that no one wanted around.  I heard "get out of my room" A LOT.   All in good fun of course...we were siblings...that's what siblings do (no worries guys...I'm over it now).  But what it did do was build a well of emotions that is dipped into anytime I am feeling insecure or vulnerable.  (Even to this day, the word "annoying" is one of the most hurtful things anyone could ever say to me (or anyone else for that matter)...I just heard it way too often back then.) 

Fast forward a few years.  A relationship in high school with, we'll call him "FRED", deep rooted any feeling of worthlessness I may have harbored from childhood.  Fred was abusive, manipulative, and just plain mean.  Anytime I threatened to break up with him, he would tell me that no one would ever want me, except him.  And I believed him for a long time.  Anytime I would go through with the break-up he would make sure no one asked me out (he went so far as to threaten his friends).  Subsequently I would feel lonely and sad and go crawling back to him.  Fred was a total jerk but I wanted to be wanted.  That's not so unusual, right?  It took a long time time to break free from him and pull myself back together.  (Stupid boy)

Or so I thought...

That seems to be the deal with emotional baggage.  Even when you think you have buried the "trunk" in the deepest darkest crevices of a backroom closet...it always seems to surface when you least expect it.


The other day, a loved one, whom we will call Wilma, said something to me that knocked me down low.  Lower than I have been in a long time.  I knew she didn't mean it...at least not the way she said it and so I'm not quite sure why it affected me so much.  Off emotional day perhaps? I'm used to her "less than cushioned" comments but this time it made me feel completely unloved, unimportant, unwelcome, and eventually fuming mad.  I came back with a kind, yet sarcastic remark on the phone...while trying to hold back the tears...and finished the conversation.

I called my husband at work...told him what had happened and how it made me feel.  "So call her back and tell her, " he said.

I should have...right away...but I ignored his advise and instead chose to let the feelings sit...fester...build up for a while...

Not good...not good.

When confronted by one of my children with a question about Wilma, I unloaded my baggage on him and exclaimed something like, "Why does it matter...why bother...Wilma doesn't even want us...anyway."  (Which sounds kinda funny out of context but...whatever.) Unfortunately...he wasn't the only one in the room...all my children were there.  They all looked startled and a little sad at my declaration.  (Stupid mommy)

"Now what the heck did I just do?"  I thought to myself.  I just unloaded a bucket load of MY issues onto my children.  "What was I thinking?"

I sat back as the next hour passed and though about more incidences when I have unloaded this particular type of baggage (cuz I've got a variety) on them.

Like the times they call a friend...no one answers the phone...they insist on riding their bikes over to see if they can play (which it a completely normal thing to do...and yet)...I refuse saying, "Don't bug them to death...if they wanted to play they would have answered the phone" or when a friend can't play until their room is clean and my children continue to ask if they can go over to their house every 10 minutes to see if they are done and I say, "No...stop annoying them.  They will come and get you when they can."  and when the friend doesn't show up..."I'm sorry...but bugging the heck out of them wont change anything."

These are only a few cases but nevertheless, damaging.

Why do I do it?  I don't know...but I've decided that it has to stop.

Kids are kids...they are going to accumulate enough baggage on their own over time...they don't need to inherit mine.

My job is to lift them up...not make them more insecure...sheesh Melanie.

So...the end of the story...

I pulled all of my kids together and apologized for what I had said about Wilma.  I told them that Wilma had said something that had made me upset and that I didn't mean what I had said about her not wanting us.

"Wilma really does love you...do you know that?"

"Yeah," they said.

Back to normal...hopefully no lasting damage.

I ended up talking to Wilma about my issues a few hours later.  I'm just not willing to hang onto feelings anymore.  I had to tell her where I was coming from....and then I was over it...all is forgiven.  

So for now things are good...other than trying to get over the good natured comment made about me by the writer of The Pursuit of Happiness which I happened to read just hours before my conversation with Wilma.

His comment..."She's an interesting person although I think if I knew her in person her enthusiasm would overwhelm me."  (my interpretation..."she's annoying".)  (CLARIFICATION:---he never said I was annoying---it's just my insecurities that made me interpret it that way)  I mean, he has a valid point.  If I had read my own blog in the depths of depression I would have found myself overly enthusiastic as well.

But still...the comment hits me where I'm weakest.  Sniff...sniff...  I found myself writing him an e-mail assuring him that I'm not so bad in person.  Can we say insecure?

Sigh...The well really does run deep.  I'm working on it.

forMMM
Question?  Have you ever unleashed any emotional baggage on your poor unsuspecting offspring?

Leave a comment! I love to hear from you!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great blog Melanie! I enjoyed it, could relate to it and it gave me some things to think about!

Aunt Nancy (from somewhere called Cali)

Melanie said...

I hear you! Actually, I believe issues really ARE inherited and most of them we don't even realize are there or why we knee-jerk react the way we do. For example, all my life I would SWEAR that I was no fun. At all. I was insistent on it. My friends would laugh and ask me why I thought that. I wouldn't have an answer, I had no experiences to base it off of that I could think of. I finally figured out it came from my grandpa, who had MS his whole life and was very sick. He didn't have any fun, life wasn't fun for him. It was a struggle. I cleared the belief and since then, I totally can see how I am fun, like other people. There is a whole side of me that most people do not know about. This side of me is fascinated with emotional issues and how to clear them. I have been researching and studying it for a long time. I even have a couple of amazing books I could tell you about, but I will stop there. Mostly because of my "not wanting to impose" issue (thank you mom - still trying to figure that one out) and my "worried about what other people think about me" (my own, currently working on as well.) :)

Melanie said...

I'm always up for new books to read. I'd love to have the names of them...go ahead and e-mail me or post them here.

Lisa said...

My issues tend to be towards feeling like people think I'm stupid. My older brother (only 18 months older) is a genius. Like a real genius. Perfect scores on every math test, valedictorian of a huge graduating class, accepted to MIT, etc. I always felt like I never measured up to him, especially because I was only one grade behind him in school. I always felt like I was being compared to him. And that I never measured up in the brains department.

I've figured some things out in my 32 years, but still, to this day, I refuse to play board games, etc with him because I always end up feeling stupid.

Oh, and tell your offspring #1 to call my home number instead of my cell #. I often don't hear the cell ring when I'm at home because it's a quiet ring. He's more likely to get an answer on the home phone. I've noticed a few missed calls from you guys without messages left and I assume he's been wanting J to play?

Rebecca (aka: Messy Musings) said...

Melanie - you should read "The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters" by Andy Andrews. You can totally read it in 30-minutes or less. I got my copy at Deseret Book - but you could probably pick it up at pretty much any bookstore (or library). It's amazing to think about our lives in the way presented in this book! Am thinking I should let you know that you have become one of the butterflies in my life!!

Once again you amaze me with your writing! I for one look forward to reading your blog - because your great personality simply oozes out of the screen, and lifts my spirits! Thanks for that!!

Melanie said...

Rebecca...thank you for your kind words. My whole intent in starting this blog was to lift others spirits. It means a lot to me that I can do that for you.

I'm very happy to be one of the butterflies in your life (I don't exactly know what that means but can't wait to read the book and find out). :)

Andrea said...

I continue to love that you are keeping it real. I love the conclusions you draw, you make sense :)

Candle Ends said...

Yes, I snap at my kids when I am upset or stressed or tired...or they do something stupid...or I do something stupid...I could go on ad nauseum. Something I am trying to work on. BTW, POH's comment didn't read "annoying" to me at all. He was commenting on your force of personality. For good or evil (Gordan B. Hinkeley vs Adolf Hitler) force of personality can be used to drive, guide, lift, manipulate, etc people. His comment was quite the compliment.

Melanie said...

Thanks Josh...I did clarify in the post that he never said "annoying." It's just because i assume everyone sees me that way that I interpreted it that way. Bugger...insecurities stink. :)

Love you Josh...I hope I'm closer to the Gordan B. Hinkley end than the Hiltler...hehehe.

Celeste said...

Oh my do I! Something I think about all the time and I swear I will conquer someday! :D I too have read the butterfly affect. It's a great book!

Melanie said...

Melanie, the two books I have read that I use regularly to help my family are "The Healing Code" by Alex Lloyd and "The Emotion Code" by Brad Nelson. I am certified in the Emotion Code and the Healing Code is a new book I have started using daily. You can find them on Amazon.com. Fascinating books! (and they really work!)

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