I remember when I found out a guy I was "seeing" (use this loosely - ok, fine..we were just (!) having ~relations) was seeing a girl on the side. I got so angry and like good girlfriends should do, they fueled the fire. I mean the smallest thing sent me into rage mode. Why was she in town, why did he ignore me, why did he text me later and pretend it never happened? She was his baggage and he wasn't willing to let her go, and my baggage was the emotional turmoil I was feeling at that very moment -- the anger of knowing it wasn't going in a place I didn't even want it to go? And yes... humans are confusing.
My emotional baggage made everything worse in the beginning, but once I learned that baggage doesn't have to harm me, I found use for it-- because let's face it, we'll always have baggage. People who don't have baggage are weirdos. Okay, that's harsh, whatever.
So I started using my baggage to better myself, because if I didn't use it to better myself then what would I use it for? First it just pissed me off [after the initial sadness, o'course]. Good start, right? Rage. Shortly after I went through spells of anger, sad, unsure, wtf am I doing, I'm obviously spiraling down to my ultimate demise...?
I know now that having baggage isn't bad, it's comforting to know you loved someone enough to allow it to affect you; it helped me learn a lot of things I needed in a potential relationship. I was so young when I gained this "baggage" and I felt its hold, I also felt it's release. When you finally stop allowing baggage to slow you down you can be your full self. I don't know that this is 100% true, but for me it was. I took all this from a relationship(s) that happened between the ages of 17 and 23, those are pretty defining years, if you ask me. I always compare it to losing my right leg and re-learning to walk, and that's overly dramatic comparison. But really! I had a lot of stuff to deal with and the last thing I was worried about was "bettering" myself.
In the end I went through the motions of baggage and it was healthy to go through those; I also found my way out and I feel stronger, more certain, and just happier. Sometimes you can't recognize a toxic (ouch) thing until you've taken the time to step away for a while and realize sometimes you grow up loving a person and sometimes that person develops into someone you might not love today, in real time... that's okay, that's life. Unfair, right? Sometimes the most unfair moments in life are the ones you need. Well, at least I know my unfair moment was needed and I no longer feel the need to dwell on those "defining years" they're now there to help me. I like that. A lot.