I’m not sure why I signed a contract with myself to carry excess baggage forever. Well, not “carry” exactly, more like burden myself with. Well, not “burden” so much as chain myself to. Yeah, that’s more descriptive. Heavy-duty, unbreakable, all-consuming, suffocating chains. Everywhere I go. Endlessly.
I remember reading a depressing sentence that really hit home. It was written in answer to someone who wanted to escape their many disappointments in life by running away from it all. The pragmatic, blunt, honest response was, “No matter where you go, there you are.”
Ouch! In other words, your baggage is chained to you. It’s going with you.
A few days ago I wrote that throughout my life I had done some really stupid things. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone so I googled, “What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?” The answers were disappointingly lame. I felt even more alone.
But then I realized I was guilty of doing the same thing. I talked about making mistakes but had not been willing to divulge the stupid things I had done.
So here’s a small sampling: I was introduced to one of my son’s acquaintances at an important social function. She wasn’t a close friend, was somewhat overweight, and I had been forewarned that she could be needy. She had been married for a few months, but had come to the function alone. She stood on the periphery of the group with a hopeful smile on her face.
I was anxious about making a good impression on my son’s friends and was therefore a nervous wreck. Social functions are not my forte and I tend to blurt.
In an attempt to be supportive and welcoming to this girl, I blurted out, “When is your little one due?” Thank goodness we were out of earshot of the group.
You guessed it. She wasn’t pregnant. I tried to cover my unbelievably stupid faux pas with lame excuses like, “You have such a healthy glow.” And, “I thought I heard that you were trying.”, etc.
She was gracious about my mistake, but in return seemed to expect my undivided attention from that moment on. She gathered my contact info and started writing me daily. She wanted my opinions, my advice, my acknowledgement, and my acceptance. I felt like I owed it to her and she knew that. She capitalized on it. I dutifully played my part because I wanted her forgiveness.
I found myself desperately wanting out of this contract. Sure, I made a really dumb mistake, but do I have to carry it with me forever? Will I somehow be atoned if I do so?
We eventually went our own directions, mostly. She still contacts me occasionally. She did get pregnant soon after and has a beautiful baby.
But I still ruminate over my stupidity and the way it might have influenced future actions on both of our parts. I have chained this memory to my psyche forever. It crops up to bite me whenever it feels like it. It reminds me of my immense capability for thoughtless stupidity.
No matter where I go, there I am.