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Fiction

Judy’s Baggage

Part 1: Moving Out

Judy was smiling as she pulled up to her house after another day at the office. It was Friday, and she was about to enjoy another weekend with her boyfriend Mike. They had been living together for 6 months now, and the relationship was going very well.

At 34 years of age, this was the first serious relationship that Judy had been excited about. Mike was smart, good-looking, and kind. She had finally found the man of her dreams! Judy now spent much of her time daydreaming of the exciting experiences she and Mike would share together. They had already discussed getting married, and Judy was now anxiously awaiting the day when Mike would formally propose to her.

But as Judy walked into the house, something seemed off. There was a strange vibe that she couldn’t quite understand. Then she saw Mike.

Instinctively, she came towards him for an embrace, but then she stopped herself short. He had a strange look on his face, and appeared to be avoiding eye contact. Then she noticed a big bag near the door.

What’s that? – asked Judy.

I’m leaving. – said Mike, ignoring her question.

What do you mean? What are you… – Judy was stunned. Her heart started to race, and tears were starting to form in her eyes.

With a hostile expression on his face, Mike said – I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong. You don’t give me any space here. I feel suffocated.

Judy started to feel defensive. She knew where this was leading. Mike, I told you already, I’m not going to throw away all the things I love just because they don’t mean anything to you! They mean something to me! I like my photos, and I like my old video games and my old clothes. If I want to keep them, I’m going to keep them! 

That’s right – said Mike – You ARE going to keep your stuff. You obviously care more about your past than you do about our future.

And with those words, Mike picked up his bag and was out the door.

Judy was in a state of shock as she watched Mike drive away. Was this really happening to her? Perhaps Mike was playing some sort of game. Suddenly, Judy dashed from room to room, looking to see if any of Mike’s possessions were still in the house.

There was no sign of his clothes in the closet. His toothbrush was gone from the bathroom. By now, tears were rolling down her cheeks and she rushed downstairs to the basement. There, in the corner where Mike’s possessions were kept, there was nothing at all. He had completely moved out.

Part 2: Moving On

Two weeks earlier, Judy had met with her psychotherapist Britney to discuss a disagreement that she and Mike were having. Previously, Britney had helped Britney build the self-confidence needed to realize she deserved to be with a partner who treated her well. Because of this, Judy had developed a high level of trust in her therapist.

He’s always complaining that he doesn’t have space. – Judy remarked, exasperated. Mike says I have 5 shelves of stuff in the bathroom that I don’t use. But Mike doesn’t have anything to put there, so why do I need to get rid of my things? It’s not his business. Mike doesn’t like to have a lot of stuff, so he thinks I shouldn’t have a lot of stuff either.

First things first – commented Britney. – For starters, it’s not a good idea to do something just because our partner demands it. This takes away our power. When you make a decision, ensure that it is something that you are comfortable with. Do you understand?

Yes – replied Judy, relieved that Britney had taken her side.

Now trembling from the shock of seeing Mike leave, Judy called Britney on the phone. 

Mike just left me! – Judy wailed from her basement. – He said I didn’t make room for him!

Oh Judy, I’m sorry – replied Britney. – But please understand that Mike did what was right for him, just a you did what was right for you.

What was right for me was for Mike to stay in my life! – screamed Judy.

But you weren’t ready for him, and Mike wasn’t willing to wait for you. Both of you stayed true to your own needs.

Judy was stunned. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

Britney continued – Your old things that you do not want to throw away are symbols of the past. But not just that: they are symbols of the good times. We keep items that are dear to us in order to remember the good times.

But herein lies the problem: life is not just about the good times. Life is about ups and downs. We can’t live just in the good times. And by hanging on to our past good times, we are making a statement. We are telling life that we don’t appreciate the bad; we appreciate only the good.

Well of course I don’t appreciate the bad! -cried Judy – Why would…

But that’s just it! – exclaimed Britney. – By not appreciating your bad experiences, you become fearful of the future. You say you want a future with Mike, but this is only half true. What you really want is a GOOD future with Mike. And this is simply not reasonable or even possible. Having placed such a demand, you don’t have any future. Not with Mike, and not with yourself.

What do you mean, no future? Of course I have a future! Are you suggesting that I would kill myself? – exclaimed Judy in a very surprised voice.

Absolutely not – said Britney. You don’t need to kill yourself. By demanding only the good times, you have already removed yourself from life. You are afraid to live, and therefore you are not even truly alive.

The last statement hit Judy like a blow to heart. The words “you are not truly alive!” echoed in her head. Suddenly, Judy sensed a deep knowing of the meaning of the words: she felt as if she was standing at the edge of a cliff, and all she had to do was jump off and be free. But the fear of taking the jump was terrifying. She was too scared to jump and she knew it. A great sense of shame spread over her entire body.

In a flash, Judy’s entire body filled with rage. She had never felt such anger build up inside her. Then – as if out of nowhere – a terrible scream filled the room. It was her scream.

Without thinking, Judy took her phone and threw it at a box of photos. Her body filled with even more anger, and she ran at the box, smashing it with both of her fists. No longer feeling in control of her own body, she started pushing boxes over and punching them as hard as she could.

All of a sudden, Judy felt pain a sharp pain in her arm. She sees blood, but can’t make out where it’s coming from. Her eyes refuse to focus.

Slowy, her vision becomes clear again. Blood is flowing out from an ugly, deep cut in her wrist. Looking up, she sees glass from a broken photo frame.

Judy starts to feel faint. She closes her eyes, and collapses to the floor.