Baggage Claim: How to Let Go
Once upon a time there was a boy named John. John had stars in his eyes. Then life changed.
You see, John didn’t recognize it, but in an unfair rite of passage, John’s father trained his son to be just like him. Every time he emerged on the scene, he made sure to deposit his masochist thoughts into his son’s youung malleable mind. He intentionally taught John to degrade women via the blatant disrespect he showed his mother.
He impressed upon his son the importance of, “keeping b*tches in rotation,” and he only seemed to gleam with pride when his son was acting out. If John was in the streets fighting, his father would rave about how good he was with his hands.
Trained by his “superhero,” John quickly learned to hate women and to blame the female species for all of his shortcomings. Praised for showing aggressive emotions like anger and hostility, he instinctively made women the casket for his rage. With ease, slur words of hatred escaped his lips and he never thought twice about the venom he injected his women with. He often used the word “Sorry” to con his way back into hearts he left in ruins.
John is now an abuser.
John had a son and the cycle was repeated. John used to have stars in his eyes…
In order to travel lightly through life, we have to drop off our childhood luggage and never look back. Here are some ways that our childhood can affect us in relationships and what we can do to unpack some of that emotional baggage.
What they teach us
One way that our parents influence our adult relationships is through what they intentionally teach us about love and connections. For example, my mother never missed an opportunity to remind me that weakness was not in my DNA. She pushed me to reject anything that had the potential to make me a dependent woman. Driving home the idea that men were not necessary and I could do without love and relationships, she taught me that true happiness was not rooted in love, but personal success. She was raw and straight to the point when she told me, “you don’t need no damn man.”
While her message was driven by a desire to protect me, it caused me to see every relationship as a waste of my time. While I entertained them, in the back of mind, I could only really see how my partners distracted me and took time away from my business. My mother raised me to be mighty and ambitious, because she never wanted me to live with the regret of knowing I lost myself for the sake of a relationship.
While this teaching pushed me to be super successful, it was part of the reason why it took me nearly 28 years to understand how valuable a relationship can be when it’s with the right person. My partners were disposable because it was embedded in me from birth that I didn’t need anyone else to be happy.
Parents’ lessons guide our actions. When a mother teaches a young girl to use men for money, she is training up a woman who will see men as a means to an end. When a man teaches his son to see sex as being more of a celebration than love, he is raising a man who will never glorify a woman outside of the pleasure she provides.
What we observe
It’s not always what our parents teach us directly that has an impact on who we are. There are times when what we observe is even more destructive. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, children will emulate what they see.
If you witness things like sexual exploitation, abuse, repeated failed relationships, toxic encounters, disrespect, fighting, etc., you are unwillingly made a victim of someone else’s decisions.
No different than being physically or sexually harmed at a young age, neglected, or emotionally scarred, all these things slowly begin to surface in adulthood and things we swore we would never do become part of our everyday life.
Quick to call a passionate Black woman “angry,” society has made the fatherless girl the butt of many jokes. Her expression of emotions within the context of a relationship is instantly associated with her “daddy issues.”
While the casualness in which these jokes are delivered is offensive, the core of humor is based on the reality that there are some common behavioral issues that can be associated with the absence of a male parental figure. While we know that the ability to function inside of a healthy relationship can be greatly diminished when a father is absent, we don’t lend as much discussion to the impact on boys and girls when their mother is not present. Fact tells us that the absence of any parent can have a traumatic effect on the child.
So, if healthy relationships and marriages are the final goal, how do we rid ourselves of the things from our childhood that may be damaging our ability to function successfully in our relationships?
1: Recognize that you are not your parents.
Our parents do the best they can with what they know. Understand that at the end of the day, our parents are humans and while we want to elevate them and hold them next to a higher power, they, like us, are still trying to figure out this thing called life. You do not have to be who your parents are or who they want you to be. Recognize that at some point, you have to choose how you want to live your life. If it is not based on the things you were taught growing up, change it.
2: Break the generational curses.
There are some habits and traits that are so ingrained within the lineage of a family to the point where you see four or five generations of the same behaviors. An example would be the repeated generational curse of women who are abused by their men, or men who victimize and devalue women. Someone has to break these vicious cycles. Let it end with you. Be better and raise the future to be better.
3. Have a conversation with your parent.
My mother is my rock. I can honestly say that there is nothing I can’t talk to her about. A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with her about why she felt the way she felt about marriage despite being married to my father who is a phenomenal man. She took the time to break some things down to me that suddenly made her life training make sense.
Don’t be afraid to speak with your parents about how their actions influenced you. Sometimes gathering an understanding from their point of view can make all the difference in the world.
We are all fighting our own personal battles. If you grew up in unfavorable conditions that left you feeling desperate for love and affection or completely cold to it, forgiveness must occur. Nothing weighs heavier on a parent’s conscience than knowing they could have done better by their children. Nothing weighs heavier on a child’s conscience than holding on to the pain and resentment of having had your heart broken early in life by your mother or father. Master the art of forgiveness for yourself.
I pray you all seek and find everything you need and more. Move in love. Until we meet again lovers and friends, be well. Be prosperous. Be passionate.
Jazz Keyes is a community activist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. Keyes supplies clients with the necessary tools and techniques to awaken their divine energy, heal their open wounds and create an aura of love, compassionate and tranquility. In 2013, Keyes was named “13 People to Watch For” by Rockford Register Star and in honor of Black History Month 2014, Keyes was recently named a“Neighborhood Hero” by ComEd’s Power of One Campaign. Keyes in currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and hopes to one day be a best-selling author and motivational speaker. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships.