Saturday, April 2, 2011

Unpacking

We all carry baggage with us.  The thing is, some of us can identify our bags, while others wander around the airport of life not even knowing which baggage claim area to look for their bags in. And then there are those who think they have claimed all their bags, unpacked them, and are now on vacation for the rest of their lives.

Uhm, no.

It just doesn't work that way.  Each time you unpack a bag and toss it to the side, there will be one more there to take its place.  Some will be overweight bags that cost you, while others will be carry-ons that you can deal with easily.

So lately, I have been looking around, trying to figure out what bags I still have left to unpack.  I had myself pretty well convinced that I mainly have carry-ons left from my marriage and divorce.  And then a friend made an off-hand remark that plunked an enormous TRUNK down in the middle of my life.

He said, "You are doing such a good job of self-condemnation, I'd hate to interrupt."

There it was.  I had a huge trunk full of self-condemnation that I needed to unpack.

Funny thing is, I couldn't find the key to the trunk anywhere at first.  But like all lost keys, eventually it showed up in a most unexpected place.  I won't take you down the entire path that led to the key, but I will say that somehow, I got from thinking about The Five Love Languages to finding the key to my trunk full of self-condemnation.

So I opened the trunk.  I expected it to be packed full, as heavy as it was, but it really wasn't.  There were a few little things, some dissatisfaction with my size and my lack of domestic skills and a couple other odds and ends.  But that wasn't what was filling the trunk and weighing it down.  Once I removed those things, I found the weight.  It was the memory of a conversation.

The summer before I found out about my ex-husband's afffair, I said to him one day, "You know, my love language is words of affirmation.  If you could just tell me something you like about me, I would feel loved and so much happier." 

He replied, "I can't do that."

So I pleaded, "Just one thing that is good about me.  Maybe something I have done with the kids, or maybe something you've noticed that I do well.  Maybe you could even just say 'thank you' for something I've done for you recently..."

And he replied again, "I can't.  There isn't anything.  I can't do that."

That memory is the weight at the bottom of my trunk.  I hope that by pulling it out and putting it in the light where everyone can see it, maybe it will lose some of its weightiness.  Maybe it will shrink down to such a small thing that it will no longer be able to support those other odds and ends of self-condemnation that were packed on top of it.

I can only hope so, because I am tired of stubbing my toe on this huge trunk that I have been unaware of until now.

Lord, may I never, ever say something that burdens someone else with a trunk full of self-condemnation.  Help me to speak in love, so that I might be the servant who helps to unpack others' baggage, not the source of what weighs them down.  In Your loving Name I ask this.  Amen.

9 comments:

Pam said...

trying to post!!

Giggly Girls said...

I have plenty to say but you could probably guess what I'd say. So instead I'll agree with you in prayer. It's certainly something that we should all be asking for help with. (((Hugs)))

Mr. G's Mrs. G said...

As I was reading about your weighty issue, the same thing came to my own mind...what I've done with my own husband in saying, "Am I worth this to you?" kinds of things.

Something I've learned through the Five Love Languages is that even though my love language is something different than someone else's and I know how to speak in their language and willing do it out of love, doesn't mean that they have the ability to reciprocate. Why do we show our love to others in their language? Is it so that we can get love back in our own language in return? Why do we give people Christmas gifts? Is it to get in return? No! We give because we love. (talking to myself here too) Why should love languages be any different?

Perhaps we need to take what love languages others are speaking to us and accept that in ourselves as the love they can and have the ability to show and give? Just because they are not speaking in OUR language, doesn't mean they don't love us. It just means they don't have the ability to step out of their own comfort zones (yet) and show that type of love. Once again, I'm speaking to myself here as well. Your post just hit a chord with the variety of things I'm dealing with right now too. iykwim

I hope this gives you a little insight.

((((hugs)))),
Regina

Denise Houser said...

Regina, while I agree that we need to learn to accept the love languages others are capable of speaking to us, I also believe that we need to learn to speak our spouse's love language. And in this case, my ex-husband couldn't (or wouldn't) attempt to speak mine most likely because he was already having an affair.

I have recently been reminded by two men whom I consider to be REAL MEN, men of godly character, that God places the responsibility to love one's wife as Christ loved the church on each husband. My ex-husband was choosing not to love me when I cried out to him with that need and he responded as he did.

At any rate, regardless of whether he was responsible to learn my love language or not, he wounded me deeply by telling me that there was NOTHING he could affirm me for, and even though that incident took place nearly five years ago, it was still weighing me down, impacting my daily life, and being a stumbling block to me.

Mr. G's Mrs. G said...

I agree with you Denise that it is an ultimate form of love to not only learn our spouse's love language, but to speak it often. We are in agreement there.

Looking back at it all, how are you getting that need for words of affirmation filled now?

What is your insight to the occurance now after realizing the injury had such far reaching affects on you? I think it would be safe to say, "Yes, he probably sinned against you" by not affirming you with the love that you needed. How are you working through this unpacking the self-condemnation...using your friend's words?

Denise Houser said...

Regina, for now, the part of me that needs words of affirmation from a lover has to be put on ice, since I am not married. I do get words of affirmation from my kids and my friends, and that has to be enough for now. God fills the emptiness for the most part, although if I am honest, the loneliness is still there, the longing to be part of a loving marriage.

As far as the unpacking goes, I am examining that tendency carefully and trying to be aware of those instances when I stumble into self-condemnation, and to immediately stop myself when I catch myself doing it. I'm also finding other things to think on (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent things) when that one comes back to haunt me.

Mr. G's Mrs. G said...

((((hugs))))

Monica Lynn Frances Dunlap said...

excuse my french but your ex is a blind, ungrateful eeediot. you are a wonderful mother, friend, counselor and just all around a great person. he couldn't say one nice thing about you well i can't say JUST one nice thing about you. its a shame that he was too wrapped up in his own selfishness to realize what a wonderful woman he had.

Kympossible said...

(((((Hugs))))))

His refusal to even TRY to say something nice about you is a reflection on his (lack of) character and complete sinful selfishness than anything. I'm so sorry that this has still been hurting you and pray that you heal as you unpack.

I warned my oldest boys awhile ago - everybody has some baggage, so try to travel light yourself. And be careful that when you choose a girl to be in a relationship with, that you're willing to help carry the baggage she's got. I think unpacking (as appropriate!) is a better way to handle it. 8-)