Question: Dear Luise: I have a lot of things from my childhood I haven’t sorted out that are affecting my relationship. I am newly married and don’t know how to deal with the baggage I brought with me into this setting. I often don’t feel free to be me, it’s like I have something going on that keeps me from relaxing and enjoying life. My husband is kind, so far, but I’m afraid all of my stuff will get to be too much for him and mess things up between us. If you have any suggestions I’d sure appreciate hearing them? Dee
Answer: Dear Dee: This is a dilemma that hits many adults. How do you undo what you don’t want to drag around from your childhood? The people who don’t have to face this question are not necessarily people who don’t have any “stuff”…they are often people who don’t know that they are full of it…yet.
You are right, marriage can complicate the process and yet it can also accelerate it. Relationships are very fertile places to observe and address our interactions and reactions. Talk with your husband about your concerns. Communication is one of the greatest tools you will ever develop. Not only are you carrying around stuff you’d like to take a closer look at and perhaps toss, so is he.
There are a lot of self-help books around on this subject and a lot of therapists who specialize in this kind of work. My favorite is “The Pathway”, a program developed by Laurel Melin that is comprised of a hard cover book, and a website: www.thepathway.org. She also offers Solution Groups all over the country that study and work through five workbooks that are called kits, each moderated by a trained Provider. There’s private counseling available and individual, non-moderated Solution Circles. However, it’s just one of hundreds of avenues to self-discovery available once you get seriously interested in taking responsibility for who and what you are.
I have to tell you I think it’s the only game in town. Why should we carry around anything we haven’t checked out and approved of? You sound like you feel a little intimidated and fearful at the job that lies ahead, but it could be an adventure. We’ve all been conditioned by others…some who knew what they were doing and a lot who didn’t. Parents, siblings, pastors, teachers, friends, TV, news, books, computers…the list of those who have imprinted and influenced us goes on and on. Think of the stuff you could dump in the trashcan instead of dumping on your children.
Life can be an awakening experience that never ends for those who have the courage to see it that way. Blessings, Luise