Monday, March 15, 2010

I’ve always carried a purse that holds not only my stuff, but whatever anyone hands me. It’s shocking what I find in there sometimes. Once I discovered a half eaten Happy Meal hamburger when I was digging for a pen.

I ended up in the doctor's office with neck pain. The diagnosis? Stop lugging around ten pounds of junk over your shoulder and the pain should stop. I spent $50 and two hours to be told I needed to carry a smaller, ladylike purse.

For years my friend, Mary, carried one of those tiny eight-inch by six-inch organizer purses with a skinny little strap that has a slot and zippered pouch for everything you really need. It's one of those doctor-recommended ladylike purses. She didn’t know what to do when her kids gave her a beautiful, soft leather, expensive purse almost the size of an airline-approved carry on bag. She loves her ladylike purse, but she didn't want to offend her kids so she carries the new purse with her little purse in it. There's nothing else in there, just her little purse.

Years ago, I was listening to a group of women share. Just before we broke for lunch a beautiful woman opened her heart. She reminded me of one of those popular girls in high school everyone was secretly jealous of. Her life looked perfect.

"There's a big age gap between my older siblings and me,” she started. “One Christmas I was showered with gifts from my parents. My teen-aged siblings each got one beautifully wrapped package. Inside was a letter from our mother. It read: “This Christmas you aren't receiving any gifts. Instead you are getting this letter. It's in exchange for every time you disobeyed me, every time you didn't finish what you started and every time you disappointed me.”

There was an uncomfortable silence around the table. I suddenly realized why there was severe pain in my chest. I wasn't breathing. I finally blinked and took a breath. I felt like this beautiful had-it-all-together woman was acting out a script from a B grade horror movie.

Amazingly she continued. "You know what the saddest part of it all is?" There's more and it gets sadder? Impossible!! "My sister has carried that letter around in her purse all these years," she finished as tears spilled.

Unbelievable! That was too much pain for me to process. She was hurting for her sister, her siblings, her mother and for herself.

I thought about that precious woman for several days. I realized we all carry things around with us. We hang on to hurt feelings, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness, hiding them in the little zippered compartments of our ladylike purses or dragging them around in oversized bags that send us to the doctor.

It might just be time to dump out things we’ve been hauling around in our purses and in our hearts. It feels really good to get rid of things we really don’t need anyway.


  1. Holy cow, Suzette. This one made me tear up. I didn't see that coming at all. I did not find out until just a few years ago that my younger siblings (the children from my mother's second family--I was the product of an unhappy first) were well aware of my mother's favoritism regarding them. Though I was in my early forties and already knew the truth (having shed most of the luggage by way of raising my own children), it was still remarkably validating to have someone say (without prompting), "It's not you. It's her."

  2. Suzette, you write the most relative stories. I've carried hurt feelings around with me since childhood. I was poor but attended school with upper-middle class students. I was treated cruely by both students and teacher. My family moved several times and I carried that poor self-image with me to each school. Today, I still shy away from social situations and have few friends. I wish I could say, "It's them, not you," and make a clean sweep of my heart.