The scenario began innocently enough when we visited a clothing store to return a dress I'd purchased.  Afterward, we were just seeing a movie.

"Think I'm going to look for a new coat, Joe," I'd said.  "I haven't had a new winter coat in almost eight years and the one I'm wearing, well, the zipper doesn't stay up.  Plus it's bulky and out of fashion."

"It looks okay to me," he replied.

"Well, it's not.  See?"  I threw my shoulders back and down went the zipper.  (Nuff said).

As I flipped through the post holiday coat sales, (damn, 60 percent off), Joe browsed the merchandise, making faces at price tags, muttering about heart attacks and commenting, "Here I come, Eilizabeth," which I didn't find funny.

I knew he was joking, but I take shopping seriously.  I seldom go out shopping for myself, and when I do, the experience, in my opinion, should be thought-provoking and enjoyable, combined with a great sale on the side.  I also want what I want, and not what someone else thinks I should have, because during a former marriage, I was told often what to buy and what not, which sucks.

After ten minutes of rummaging the racks, I found a glorious faux fur, knee-length coat, (silvery grey and white), and was elated it was just my size.  I dropped my purse and dumped the coat I was wearing on the floor, eager to try on my find.

On the other side of the store, Joe was rummaging through some pretty ugly, less expensive coats as I danced my way over to show him the prize that captured my interest.

"Isn't this sweet?  I just love it." I said as I looked at myself in the mirror.

He held up a micro fabric jacket in some pukey shade of brown.  "What about this one?"

Obligingly, I took off the faux fur, hung it up with a sigh, and tried on the cargo coat.  It was comfy enough, I'd give him that, but it wasn't the ONE and I hated the color.

"Um, I really don't like this one, Joe."

He pointed to a down jacket.  "Well, what about that one?"

"Nah, that's really not for me."

Joe looked at his watch.  "Why don't we put off this coat buying thing and try Sears, another time?"

Now, I'm pissed.  "Forget it," I said.  "I will go shopping when I'm by myself."

"What's the matter?"

"I feel uncomfortable shopping with you," I replied.  "You've ruined it with your unenthusiastic attiude and it's not fun anymore."

Long story short, we return the dress and I withdraw.  I withdraw, or have in past relationships, not because things don't go my way, but because I have an issue with expressing my feelings and needs.  Why?  No man has ever really respected my feelings or opinions, prior to Joe.  

Shit.  Even as this is unfolding, I realize I'm reverting back to a behavior I vowed would never happen in our relationship. Even though I subconsciously know I should and CAN be comfortable enough with Joe to say, "I want the coat I just picked out," I don't, and he gets The Silent Treatment

Joe doesn't deserve it, but I carry it further.  After the movie, we have to walk past that store again, and Joe says, "Let's go get your coat, we're right here," and my response is, "No, I don't want it any more," even though I really do.  

I was deliberately sabotaging myself.  Why?  Because of 'carry on luggage' from former relationships, which is a huge no-no in the present.  Really.  I want the coat, he's offering to take me back to the store and buy the coat, yet I refuse.  Enter that little demon called manipulation, and you have way worse than a no-no, like emotional collateral damage, and something I vowed never to pull with Joe.

In the morning, after several intense hours of head-banging and guilt, I decided to busy myself cleaning out some real baggage. I began with my clothes closet, discarding items I haven't worn in years, and tossing things I'd never wear again into plastic bags, to be donated to shelters or charities.  After a while, I discovered emotional baggage can be buried in your memory cemetary as well, and hopefully, it will never rise to haunt you again,  But, if it does, every once in a while, the only way to defeat your baggage is not give into it, by totally focusing on the blessings you have NOW. 

I posted this blog because I've been reading some of my fellow authors' stories regarding New Year's resolutions, etc. and I wanted to share this:   Although we all have goals we'd like to adhere to, sometimes we cave into the past and if you have the right partner, it's really okay. Head banging and guilt trips aren't the fix, but making ammends to the person we offend, and even ourselves, is the answer.

I apologized and explained myself that very evening, and was completely heard by an understanding and patient man.  I am so lucky!

Just as an aside, Joe and I fenced on the Wii game tonight and I laughed so hard, I pee'd my pants. While losing your water or dignity isn't such a big deal, losing ground with your marital intimacy is.  

I will try harder.  Have a Happy and Blessed New Year.