Life After Divorce . . . Making Baggage a Good Thing

By Lindy Earl

            We all have baggage.  It’s true.  The older we are, the more baggage we probably have.  The more relationships we’ve had, the more heartaches and losses, adding to our baggage.

            After writing about baggage a while ago, I started wondering, why can’t we make baggage into a good thing?  The word is so negative, but think about it.

            It’s from our baggage that we become the people we are.  We learn. We grow.  We learn what we did wrong and shouldn’t do again.  We learn what we did wrong and need to change.  We watch others, and talk to them about their baggage, and learn we are all similar and others truly understand.

            This is where I want to go.  In the world of suitcases, there are only so many choices.  Now, luggage has changed greatly over the years.  When I was a little girl there were still trunks that we don’t see too often anymore because we don’t travel on trains and have stewards to carry them.  Today suitcases are often small and on wheels and even fit inside a slightly larger bag.  How efficient.  When you’re at the airport you need to be careful to get your own bag, not one that just looks similar to yours.

            Like luggage, I believe many of our experiences are similar.  I’m sorry if you had a rough childhood or had a dysfunctional family, but please know that there are thousands like you who can relate.  If your spouse cheated on you, then you have something in common with thousands of people.  Whatever bullying or abuse you had to live through, thousands of others know your story firsthand.

            So rather than just putting our baggage under the bed, let’s talk about it.  I believe that when two people share the same baggage, while it won’t negate the pain, it can be a unifying force.

            I’m not saying there should be a cry-fest.  But if you can relate to someone, embrace it. I don’t recommend dumping all your baggage on the table at a first meeting. I’m also not suggesting that if your baggage is the only thing you have in common then you should begin a relationship.  It will take more than that.  But how nice to have someone to commiserate with you!  And they say that a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. 

            As a relationship grows, I think sharing baggage is a good thing for several reasons.  First, we need to acknowledge that we have baggage and we have to know what it is.  I’m continually seeing things in my life that I hadn’t seen as baggage before.  For instance,  I do not enjoy teasing. I don’t enjoy it when someone teases me and I don’t like it when I see someone else being teased. I get feelings of righteous indignation, even if it’s none of my business.

Second, it feels good to verbalize some of our struggles. Having others commiserate, or even offer sympathy, when you share a story just feels good! It definitely shows that others understand and that’s a good thing.

            By sharing our struggles, other people can relate to us.  When we find that someone has been through a similar situation, thus shares at least some of the same baggage, it is possible that this information could bring us closer together.  It’s like being one of two new people in school – you naturally bonded with the other person who was as lost as you were.

            Baggage can be a bonding experience.  I think, but don’t have any data to prove it, but I believe that when people share baggage, it kind of cancels it out for each other.  If you’ve both been cheated on, then you know how terribly painful it is, and would never inflict that on anyone.  You therefore have confidence in that part of this new relationship. 

            I believe by looking at our baggage, and really identifying what it is and WHY it exists, we are moving toward a better version of ourselves.  By being transparent enough to share baggage with appropriate people in appropriate ways at appropriate times (meaning don’t emotionally throw up on your date the first time you meet), we are healing. 

When we find others with similar baggage, we can use that to unify the friendship, even be a bonding agent.  Just like similar interests (often football, in my case) can bring two people closer together, let’s see if we can turn a negative thing like baggage into a positive in that it can bring two people closer.

            That’s Dating After Divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.  Contact her at or find and like her page on Face Book, and join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.