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It was every man for himself at Alaska Airlines. For years I’d see children toddling along after their overloaded parents. Many kids are now seasoned travelers, complete with a personalized carry-on backpack and rolling suitcase. Parents are no longer convinced they need to carry their children’s belongings.

It’s an interesting metaphor for the rest of us. Whether it’s physical or spiritual, have you been carrying someone else’s baggage?

It may be the season to pick up the last of your mementos which have taken up permanent residence in your Mom’s basement. Perform an early Easter miracle and make those high school yearbooks disappear! Like the March series, The Clean Sweep, releasing baggage may also include making some hard decisions. This is the choice Isabella Rossellini made.

Actress Isabella Rossellini has played many roles. She began her career as a model, eventually becoming the face of Lancome for over 10 years. She is renowned for starring roles in films like Blue Velvet and Cousins. In the past few years, she’s gone behind the scenes, becoming a writer and director.

Her personal life is as varied as her professional resume. She’s partnered with many high-profile men, including Martin Scorsese and Gary Oldman. Her romance with Oldman was particularly electric. That was, until his drinking habit got in the way. He recalled his epic binges. “There was a day – well, not a day; there was never just a day. There were 3 day, 4 day, 1 week benders. And I would come out the end of it, and “Just this one time.”… Someone once described alcoholics as egomaniacs with low self-esteem. Perfect definition.”

Increasingly concerned for the well-being of her two children, Rossellini made a frank declaration. “If you drink, you can’t live with me.”

It’s a deceptively simple statement. In just a few words, Rossellini detached from old scripts of bargaining, arguing and judging. Ignoring the crisis would have been like saying:

  • I hate being the maid, but I guess I’ll keep cleaning up when you lose control.
  • I know you’re triggered easily, so I’ll be your parent and make sure nothing ever upsets you.
  • I’m monitoring you to stay well, just like a sober coach.

The rest of their relationship followed a painful, straightforward track: He kept going. She kept her word. Is it a surprise that he’s now on his fourth divorce?

Making someone carry their own bags doesn’t need to be cruel. Detaching isn’t the same thing as disengaging. Your job is to embrace a new, healthy paradigm. Stop fighting the same battles with ineffective, tired tactics.

What isn’t your responsibility? Making someone else’s choices. It’s up to them to heal their own anger, childhood sadness or everyday worry.

This is the week to declare a personal independence day. Skip the lecture and keep it simple. Here are a few ice breakers. “It’s time for a change.” “We need help.” Starting the conversation may be the first step in changing how the story can end.