What's Up With That? ~ Katy Byrne

Katy Byrne Katy Byrne, MFT is a Psychotherapist in Sonoma, editor and animal lover. Her private practice specializes in: life transitions, couples communication, eating issues, moving forward, conflict resolution and the kitchen sink.


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Too much baggage!

Posted on November 3, 2016 by Katy Byrne

I walk into the store looking for a purse, determined to find just the right one — the one that holds everything, yet reflects who I am! Why is this subject so important? Could purses tell us about ourselves?

Why am I either squeezed into a small bag that just doesn’t hold everything I need, or faced with a big bag with a black hole at the bottom of it? There are more practical purses: big clunky ones with huge bottoms, and openings like caves into which you could disappear and never find yourself again. Am I carrying too much baggage? My purses are usually too heavy, deep pits with no bottom. What’s up with that? My shoulders hurt! Am I carrying the weight of the world; trying to do too much? Who cares about this subject? Women do! (Maybe it’s the money in them we care more about!)

Moving on, I see huge carry-on bags with roller wheels (who has that much stuff?), backpack purses (for hard-working types), and shiny black or yellow purses paired with gloves (this has gotta be for the sophisticated person). If only I could be like that.

The tiny purses are cute — petite is in. They make you want to squish them and coo. And a small compartment is all we need if we have no cash, right? The sequined ones are darling; the little square ones are like miniature boxes; and the velvet ones beg your touch. There’s always a minute when I believe I can be this woman with the miniature purse exactly matching my petite (starving) body—like a tiny goddess, the little bag dangling as I whirl in my flowing dress.

But my stuff, my responsibilities — eye glasses, sun glasses, a heavy wallet with ID of every kind, hankies, keys for doors and cars, cell phone, three different lipsticks, and pens — do not fit in a tiny, cute purse. I’m just not a fairy princess. I have to manage everything and I need my “tools” to do it.

Now, I dig for my checkbook to grab a snack before forging on. My friend watches as I reach, poke, struggle, and juggle. He’s thinking, “How disorganized can she be?” (I’m thinking, “How do men make do with just a wallet?”) Have you ever seen a woman groping for a small item at the bottom of a purse that looks like a cave? I remember a cashier once at the grocery store who rolled his eyes and finally asked me to step aside while he helped other people. It’s really something only busy women understand.

Okay, so I go back to the store and the little purses, knowing the bulky ones will just swallow all the things I need handy. I look sweet holding the sequined one that fits a lipstick but no room for glasses—except I can’t see a thing! With my sleek black dress and pearls, I sure look put-together. Leaning over the counter, bent from confusion, scratching my scalp, I query the clerk: “How do other women do this? These little girl purses are so adorable, but I always end up going without something—tampons, perfume, money—what’s that about?” The clerk responds blandly, “Those women are really organized.”

Is baggage a reflection of something deep—of who I am? Maybe I’m looking for something to contain my life. Do I have a fundamental need to grab onto something that’s reliable? Is there any money in the bag? Can I reach down and find the things I need that support me? Or am I stuffing part of myself into too-small, too-tight, too-dark compartments? What’s up with that?

Who am I really? A rhinestone cowgirl, a little pink thing, a strong businesswoman with expensive leather off the back of a beloved cow, or a practical, natural fiber, hemp-carrying feminist? It makes me wonder who’s holding the purse strings. Maybe I’m trying too hard to please others and losing my own values? In my longing to be adored, do I try to squeeze into a small body and a miniscule space? I’ve been carrying too much pressure on my shoulders.

I exit the store after buying a large bag with a huge photo of Las Vegas on both sides. What’s that about? I mean it’s not at all the type of purse one would carry to a professional job. But it reflects a fun-loving, let’s-enjoy-life-while-we-can part of me that I let go of too early. And, it does hold everything!

This offbeat bag says to me, “I can be audacious and playful.” I’m gonna go back and get that tiny pink one, too. Cuz there’s an angel in me, right next to the devil in the blue dress.


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