Confessions of a Recovered Bag Lady

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Hello, My name is Kia Elizabeth Grant, and I am a recovered bag lady.

Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto
Is you, is you, is you

One day all them bags gone get in your way
One day all them bags gone get in your way
I said one day all them bags gone get in your way
One day all them bags gone get in your way
So pack light

                                                —-   Erykah Badu ( “Bag Lady”, 2000)

Becoming a “Bag Lady”

In the song Bag Lady, by Erykah Badu, Badu gives a cautionary tale about a woman who carries emotional baggage around with her from past failed relationships. She also explains how the baggage hinders this woman’s ability to connect with others and form new, healthy relationships. When I think about this song and how it applies to my life, I look at it not only from the perspective that’s given but also the overall effect that emotional baggage has on our mental health. A lot of us are carrying around bags and bags of trauma that we have been packing for years. Some of those bags we inherited from the time we were born, some were picked up along the way, and others belong to the people around us, but we still carry them as our own.

Usually, when we think of the phrase bag lady, it is typically defined as a woman who carries all of her possessions in shopping bags. Can you imagine the weight of trying to tote all the things from your past, negativity, guilt, expectations, and other people’s problems around in a plastic shopping bag? Day after day you take these bags around, and they get heavier and heavier every second. They affect your ability to do anything else because your hands are full. Eventually, holes start to tear through, or a handle breaks off and all of the problems you carry spill out right before you. Now you are frantically running around trying to pick up all the pieces, but it’s far too much to carry in your arms. Now you are forced to deal with all these problems at once. Exposed for everyone to see. This is an everyday reality for some of us. We think about the things that trouble us day and night. Those thoughts spill over into our relationships, friendships, work, school, etc. Sooner or later these thoughts have to be unpacked and worked through accordingly. Not only for our inner peace but also our mental health.

My Experience 

For the past few years or so I have been on my journey of self-discovery and trying to find inner peace with myself. I realized that to do this successfully; I had to let go of the bags that I was carrying around. Although, my bags were not as heavy as those others have to bear; there was still work to be done. I had to learn forgiveness, I had to let go of expectations others have for me, And I had to learn how to let the people in my life handle their own baggage. When it comes to forgiveness, we would all love to get that standard apology. However, life doesn’t always work like that sometimes. Often we will never get the apology we want, and that is okay. We can’t allow that to hinder our growth and continue to hold grudges forever. The best thing you can do in this situation is to work through that issue and forgive that person. In the past, I thought it was easier to just hold a grudge. However, I found that the only person I was hurting was myself. I was harboring all this anger and aggression, and it was not good for my well-being. I had to think about it this way, the other person involved probably had forgotten all about the situation, and they were living their life meanwhile I was holding a grudge and carrying baggage. I had to learn how to forgive and move on, or I would continue to be stagnant. I understand that some cases are harder to forgive, but the work towards forgiveness is necessary to free yourself from that person, the situation, the anger, and your own mental prison.

Also,  I had to learn to let go of expectations that others had for me. I appreciate people motivating me and pushing me to the next level, but I could no longer allow their expectations of me affect me and the vision I saw for myself. At the end of the day, no one is perfect, and life doesn’t always go accordingly to the plans that we make. You have to live life for you and do what makes you happy. You can’t let what other people feel are the best choices for you overshadow the things you genuinely want to do. I learned that if you try to live for others or meet their expectations you will never be happy, and you will never truly live life. It’s understandable to want to make your family, friends, significant other, etc. happy, but your happiness means more.

In addition to all of this,  I had to learn how to stop carrying the emotional baggage of others as if it was my own. I consider myself to be highly empathetic. I can put myself in someone else’s shoes, experience their emotions, and get an understanding of where that person is coming from; I consider this to be a gift and a curse. It is a gift because I am able to connect to other on a deeper level, but on the other hand, I considered it to be a curse because in the past I could not draw boundaries. I really wanted to help the people in my life work through all the situations they were going through, but I realized that I was dedicating too much of my time and energy to fixing problems that I ultimately had no control over. I had to understand that just because I see the potential of others, does not mean I could force them to see it. Just because I want them to be happy doesn’t mean I can force them to be. They had to be ready to accept those things into their life.

Little by little I began to take on the baggage of others, and in a sense, I was hindering them more than anything else. Because I was the one working on the problems, they didn’t have to. I was taking away their ability to work through the issues and gain growth and clarity. At the time I thought it was helpful taking some of the load off of them. I knew that this was becoming detrimental to me when at one point it seemed like I was only attracting people into my life that were there for the sake of being “fixed.”  The situations were becoming more and more toxic, and that energy was spreading into my life. I couldn’t handle that anymore. One day it finally clicked, and I said to myself, “Kia why are you doing this? It’s entirely up to them to figure this out,  and it is no one else’s responsibility.” Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with being a friend and cheering them on from the sidelines. However, I cannot invest my time into their journey because it will basically turn into a full-time job rather than a friendship.

With all of this being said, you may be wondering well how do go about the process of letting go of this baggage? Well, there is not a straightforward answer. When I went on my journey, I turned to prayer and journaling often. I also had to remove myself from situations and people that were no longer surviving a purpose in my life. As I mentioned before it also required me to give out a lot of forgiveness so I could move on. The best piece of advice I can give you is to start doing the work now. Use the outlets you enjoy such as writing, exercise, prayer, meditation, art, etc. Use these activities as a medium to work through the emotional baggage you carry. You don’t want to wait until later in life when you have gotten tired. Do the work now. Find forgiveness in your heart for those who have hurt you, let go of the pain, let go of the mistakes that other people have made, and let go of the negativity. Taking small steps each day will eliminate years and years of dead weight. You will feel so much lighter and free, and your mind, body, and soul will thank you later. So Start today and you are one step closer to becoming a recovered bag lady.

 

 

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Image Provided By Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

 

8 thoughts on “Confessions of a Recovered Bag Lady

  1. Erkah badu
    Have powerful songs
    Apple tree, lifetime, other side of game
    I have never heard of bag lady tho 🤔🤔🤔

    I can relate to this.
    Trying to live by what others expect from you is too much pressure.
    Life in general is not easy for anybody but what we all struggle with the most is trying to be happy.
    You would think being happy is a simple task but yet many of us struggle to reach happiness because we male choices that made others happy instead of ourselves

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know I’ve never understood why happiness is so hard to reach, myself. But, I have found that by making a choice to invest in making yourself happy and finding joy in even the simplest things makes attaining happiness a little easier.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been going through the same things. I’m learning to be more verbally expressive & to not be so critical of others & myself. Expectation is the thief of joy, I had to learn to be in the moment & appreciate the now while still wanting to improve. People often let the past dictate their future by holding grudges and it’s also hard for them to forgive themselves for their wrong doings. Just gotta “let it go” Elsa was right lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol, Yes I agree. I view life like trial and error. I understand that I won’t get everything right every time, and I know that things happen. As much as I would like for everyone and everything to go in my favor it doesn’t, So I have to let go of he things I can’t change. Regardless if it’s good or bad. Holding on to negative things is never ideal.

      Liked by 1 person

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