Disposable. The word first came into use in the 1640s, meaning “that may be done without.” It later grew to describe diapers, “designed to be discarded after one use.”¹ However, it didn’t take long for it to pertain to everything…even people.
In our modern society, so much time, attention, and energy is shifted away from building deep and meaningful relationships that serve us, our communities, and the planet as a whole. For most, time (which is our most valuable contract with Life itself, as we never know how much time we have) is invested in making money to meet our basic needs and pay off debts. We pursue hyper-individualistic paths of leaving a legacy through a brand, product, or outer world achievement to bring fame & fortune. As a result, there are many ways in which we treat each other like we are disposable in everyday interactions and activities. The culture of capitalism is one of “disposable goods,” and life itself is no exception. In short, we practice disposing of ourselves and of each other. This is the curriculum of our culture. In the end, we suffer; our relationships suffer.
I am “damaged goods,” we say, referring to our baggage. Whether we mean childhood needs that didn’t get met (emotional, physical, or both), rejection in romantic attempts or otherwise, or hurts from relationships past, we all experience some level of heartbreak. At some point, we feel “disposable” in relation to another. We experience being dismissed by another who doesn’t have the time, attention, and energy to give in a moment we need them to. Heartbreak is heartbreak. It hurts. Plain and simple. And without greater understanding and healing, these experiences form impressions and expectations that are hard to break.
This baggage can work twofold:
1) It makes us less trusting, lending itself to a hardened protective layer around our
heart that ultimately gets in the way of building lasting, meaningful relationships in the future. From this, we create self-sabotaging patterns that we are often blind to. These keep us from receiving what our heart really desires — to feel genuine connection, to love truly, and to be truly loved.
2) It refines the filters we use to decide who belongs in our most intimate circles (those who are willing to meet and receive us in our vulnerability).
So we come to the table as “damaged goods,” our baggage along with us. To encourage my point, imagine our baggage as trash bags. Then, imagine going out on a date with someone who showed up with 5 trash bags as an indicator of their baggage. This could be off-putting at first, although it might be humbling compared to the 10 you’re carrying. Good thing this isn’t the case; otherwise, we’d be tripping over each other’s baggage all the time. Oh wait…we do. So, what to do? You may be thinking I’m going to offer the obvious, “Leave it in the past, learn to let it go, or just drop it.” Nope.
It’s not trash. Even our baggage needs our time. It’s not disposable. It is part of our story. Whether we like it or not, it shapes who we are. If we are going to learn how to stand in our truths, we must learn to stand in the whole Truth of who we are: the messy and the beautiful. This is a triumph in unlearning our disposable habits. Instead of throwing out the baggage, I offer to lighten our loads. We can learn how to utilize it in a healthy way. I cannot expect anyone to simply drop their baggage, leaving it in the past like it never happened. It did. However, we can learn how to navigate it. This is where the healing comes in.
Truth is, we as “damaged goods” can become salvaged goods. It is time we learn to salvage each other. To salvage is about renewal, it is about reclaiming and recycling. It is about creating things to truly last, which takes quality time. Salvage renders our worth back. In its Latin root, “to salvare, is to make safe, secure.”² It’s no wonder that our baggage often coincides with our insecurities.
So here goes… I am reclaiming you—from the trash. That’s right! You. And your bags! Mine too. Let’s go through them together. What’s in there? Can it be useful? Can it be redefined? Renewed? Can it contribute to a creative endeavor? Can it become a gift? It is time to shift what we’ve been taught about trash and make the time to discover its treasure—Let’s Get Salvaged.
∴ Special Note to Readers. The art of Salvaging can be very messy. It takes a collaborative approach to begin learning how to navigate baggage in a healthy way. For beginners, I suggest seeking quality
counsel. It is important to have mutual respect, attention, and energy given in this process. When one-sided, it is an unhealthy relationship pattern.
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¹,² All definitions from: Online Etymology. http://www.etymonline.com