"Two monks were on a pilgrimage. One day, they came to a deep river. At the edge of the river, a young woman sat weeping because she was afraid to cross the river without help. She begged the two monks to help her. The younger monk turned his back. The members of their order were forbidden to touch a woman.
But the older monk picked up the woman without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and continued his journey. The younger monk came after him, scolding him and berating him for breaking his vows. He went on this way for a long time.
Finally, at the end of the day the older monk turned to the younger one. "I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her all day."
How often do we carry things with us? Things we should have let go of a long time ago. We can carry people and feelings long beyond necessity. Why is it so easy to hold on to the bad feelings and people, while often letting go of the right people and memories? Pain can be a very tricky emotion and we often carry it for years. If you aren't careful pain can poison your soul, just as the influence of the wrong person can.
The younger monk carried his anger about the older monk helping the woman all day. What do you carry around that you should let go? I carried distrust, hurt, and anger for too long following my brothers murder. One day I looked in the mirror and I saw a scared, angry, and hopeless woman instead of the carefree, happy, and joyful person who stood there before his death.
Someone once told me that you can't let other peoples actions change who you are. I did exactly that. I was afraid to walk alone outside at night for fear that my stepfather (or anyone else) was waiting to get me. I became distrustful of nearly everyone in my life. I had trusted my stepfather. We had developed a good stepfather, stepdaughter relationship. We would watch the history channel, run errands, and I had helped at his market. We shared holidays and chats about life. How could I ever trust anyone else? He took my brother from us in a very cruel and calculated way. He sabotaged so many of my relationships with people he had never even met.
The worst emotion was anger. I was angry at him for taking Brandon, and I was angry at God for letting him. I still can't drive through the town where he lives because I honestly fear of what I might do if I saw him. Anyone who knows me, knows I am incredibly protective, almost to a fault. I will do anything to protect the people I care about, even if it means hurting myself in the long run. I can still laugh over Brandon's supposed "bar fight." We got into an argument over my niece and I punched him. He had been making some poor decisions that I felt would negatively affect Alyssa. We were arguing about her, and he said he didn't give a damn. Alyssa was my first niece and my first baby, those were "fighting words." I can shamefully say I punched my brother in the face and I can say he thankfully didn't punch me back. When everyone asked about the mark/bruise, he said he got into a bar fight. I guess technically he was telling the truth, we had gotten into an argument outside of a bar.
It took a long time for me to realize that I was continually letting my stepfather take things away from me. He took Brandon, my trust, along with many other people and opportunities. We should be careful of the baggage that we carry with us. We can let experiences change you but you need to make sure they change you for better, not worse.