The Baggage We Carry
Posted on July 16, 2018
I had a chat with a couple friends this past Friday. One was celebrating her birthday and suddenly became quite emotional. Not necessarily in the good way, but a kind of “I need to get this off my chest” kind of way. This friend is absolutely lovely. She just has some baggage from her youth that tends to rear its ugly head from time to time. Friday was one of those times. Then the other friend we were with shared a few things about her childhood, and the scars those memories left.
Seems like we all have baggage.
My baggage doesn’t really come from my family. At least not my parents while I was growing up. There were squabbles and times I’m sure we’d all like to forget now, but we all took something very different away from them. My father felt guilty for years when I broke my arm. None of us knew it, and after so much crying on my part, he took the arm, bent it up and down several times to show me it wasn’t broken. That incident doesn’t haunt me, but it did him.
My grade school years were the worst and haunted me as an adult. The thing is I’ve been fortunate to work through them. I’m no longer scared of those people or those incidents. I’m even friends with some of the folks on social media. If I’m going to be haunted by baggage, it’s going to be within the last decade and I’m desperately trying to create new issues.
Mom’s health and recovery the past 6 weeks has been difficult on us both. She’s not able to do so many of the things she did prior—at least not yet—and she has to take things frustratingly slowly. I’m having to be a voice of patience for her and make sure she sees the improvements as they come. If I don’t, I’m afraid of seeing her become demoralized and depressed.
I made mistakes when my father was alive with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t understand or appreciate the kind of patience things took. I did lose my temper. There were days I didn’t want to be around him. I didn’t want to deal with it. Yet he is the one who suffered from it. The Alzheimer’s ravaged his mind and body. We were sideline casualties.
And while mom doesn’t have Alzheimer’s and will recover in time, there are some parallels in how we have to approach things.
Yeah, I grew up in the 1970s a cop’s kid, an only child, a child who had no concept of how to defend himself, and a little socially awkward at times. I was the kid who didn’t get invited to birthday parties or receive as many valentines in grade school as the other kids in class. I’m okay with that now. That was then. I used my past to fuel my mind when I write, to understand how characters might think or arrive at who they are.
But the present? It scares the hell out of me. And I’ve no idea what kind of baggage I’ll carry with me into the future. There may not be time to come to terms with it like I have my childhood.
I can only hope.
How about you? Do you have baggage or did you learn to free yourself from it long ago?
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and the brand new Falling Awake II: Revenant.