In my last blog, April Fools, I made a vow to let go of my baggage and to move on. While it felt like a great proclamation, the next day I thought, now what? It’s one thing to write about it, it’s another thing to actually break free.
I generally think in metaphors, so when I was trying to put how I felt into words, a picture came to mind. It was a photo I took in San Diego, driving across Sunset Cliffs bridge at commuting time. I found myself sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, and when I looked over to my left, I saw a sign…it was literally a message that spoke volumes. The concrete barrier between the two lanes was broken, and someone had cleverly painted a message on a block of the cement and placed it on top of the barrier. It read, “LEARN TO BREAK FREE.”
It’s easy to become so habituated to things in our lives that, overtime, they feel like they are set in stone. Things become second nature: our actions, our responses, our thoughts, even our general disposition. We become settled in our behaviors, and the longer we engage, the harder it is to break the habit.
It doesn’t escape me that we are in the midst of the Easter and Passover seasons, both holidays representing freedom and redemption. We have the ability to free ourselves. So, when I made the bold statement to let go of my baggage, I was left with the question: How do I break free? Easier said than done…get out that chisel!
What is baggage? It’s really just a story that we keep telling ourselves over and over. The more we tell the story, the more we internalize it and make it a part of who we are. It brings back all those familiar feelings, and whether pleasant or not, we become addicted to them. The story and its accompanying feelings become a habit. And while there is some comfort in the familiarity, it keeps us firmly rooted in the past.
Grief comes from loss, and we often fill that void with our story. Not only was I losing my mother, but I also lost a part of myself. I can see how moving home, giving up a life I had created for myself, and starting over with a totally different set of circumstances, had left me blindsided. My new role, my new character in the play of life, was caregiver. And I was so lost, so out of touch with myself, that I perpetuated this caregiver role even when I was no longer my mom’s caregiver.
Carolyn Myss has done amazing work with archetypes, which are psychological patterns derived from historical or mythological figures, such as the Child, the Poet, the Healer, the Student, the Damsel, etc. In Sacred Contracts, Myss writes that we are each born with our own unique set of 12 archetypes which form the support system of our psyche. Our own sacred contract is an agreement with these archetypes that we make for this lifetime to learn certain lessons and to work with certain people.
That said, my experience as a caregiver strengthened the Rescuer in me, which morphed into the Martyr and the Victim when there was no one left to rescue. While there are positive attributes to all of the archetypes, there also lurks the shadow side. I can see now how so many of my decisions were influenced by those archetypes.
Time for the resurrection! To break free from suffering, we must break free from our stories: awareness is the first step, making a choice to change is the next. For me personally, within the context of my archetypes, I am breaking free by starting to focus on some of the traits I embraced in my youth: the Artist, the Seeker, and the Student. If our baggage is the story that no longer serves us, then we merely need to take on a new character and write a new story.
Challenge for the week: Learn to break free!
You are the main character in your own story. What is your story and what part do you play?
Do you find yourself repeating a story that may not serve you? You can usually tell by how you feel. Does it emotionally charge you up (and not in a good way)? Does it make you feel unsettled or upset? Of course, this does not apply if you are grieving or in trauma, as sharing your story will most likely upset you, but it is a healthy outlet.
Who are you in your story? What character or archetype are you playing? When you are watching a movie or a show, notice the characters you relate to or resonate with…this is a helpful way to bring awareness to your role.
Once you can recognize your part, you have the power to rewrite your story, and in so doing, break free!
Wishing you a Happy Spring! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.