Day 393: Left holding the bag (more idioms from Ann)

Here’s what I want to do today, people!  I would like to free associate on the idiom “Left holding the bag.”

Before I do, I would like to provide a wee bit of context, as follows:

      • I like to write about idioms, and so I have: here, here, and here. 1
      • I enjoy free-associating and writing about idioms, just for fun, but I suspect I might also do such things when I am avoiding being direct about something.
      • I have trouble being direct when (1) I need to keep something a secret and/or (2) I’m upset.
      • “Upset” is often a euphemism for “angry.”

Now, my context may have raised some confusion2 which I would like to do my best, right now, to clear up. Here are some thing I’d like to clarify:

      • I don’t like keeping secrets, but I do so when it’s in the service of keeping a situation “safe enough.”3
      • I was upset last night, and woke up feeling upset this morning.
      • This post is a way for me to move forward, through being upset, to the next right thing which — to me — is often related to connections to others.

Arrghh!  I think I’m digging myself deeper into a explanatory hole here. The more I say, the more I fear I need to clarify. I think it’s time to …

Image 4
…. stop this portion of the post, and move on to the Idiom Du Jour, which is

Left holding the bag

So what does that idiom mean?  Here’s a result of an online search, this morning:

be left holding the baby (British) also be left holding the bag (American)
to suddenly have to deal with a difficult problem or responsibility because someone else has decided they do not want to deal with it. “He abandoned the project after a year because he felt that it was going to fail and I was left holding the baby.”

I have to say I was startled by the surprise appearance of a baby:

Image 5
… but I guess that’s because I’m American.

Well, this is fun, but I think I’d like to be more direct, right now.

In a recent post, called “Free-floating, re-sticking anxiety (The __ Metaphor)” I wrote about suspecting that somebody was angry with me.  I did check that out with that person and, as I suspected, I was incorrect.  However, as I also wrote about in that post, I often suspect that SOMEBODY is angry at me, so when I continued to check out that perception, I did eventually, discover ….

…. somebody who WAS angry at me.

You know what?  At any particular time, there probably is somebody, somewhere, who is angry with each one of us. Why?  Because as we move through the world, with all our imperfections, with our messiness, and with our selfishness (which is not always a bad thing), inevitably we are going to hurt somebody’s feelings.

So if you keep asking people, “Have I offended you?” …. no matter how nice you are, or how hard you try NOT to offend people, eventually, the answer will be “yes.”


Well, speaking for myself, when I DO find somebody who is angry at me, my first response typically is ….

… to feel anger, back.

But that’s just the first step.  There are lots of options for ways to continue from there.

So why did the idiom of “left holding the bag” come to my mind today?

That’s a reflection of this: My first discussion with this person was too short. We only had five minutes to speak on the phone.  So, as a result, I felt left holding the bag. What’s in the bag I’m holding?  Anger, I suppose (or whatever else we want to call that feeling).

So, in my blog post today, I knew I wanted to get ahold of that bag, understand it, perhaps make it smaller, before I talked to the person again. And I definitely want to maintain my connection with this person.

And, you know what?  Writing this post has definitely helped with that.

Also, I chose this topic today because I had a photo I wanted to show you:


Why did I want to show you that? Because that’s the bag I’ve been carrying around lately.  It’s made by Vy & Elle, who recycle vinyl billboards into bags and wallets (among other things).

Bags that you’re left holding can also be beautiful.

Thanks to Vy & Elle, my friends who have been angry with me at any time, stop signs, babies, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

  1. You know, when I include a link to another post, I’m not just doing it because I’m trying to spruce up my post with different colors, people.  I’m including posts I think you might actually find helpful, interesting, and maybe even fun.  It wouldn’t kill you to click on one of those every once in a way, would it?  (If you do click on these links, I apologize for my tone, which may seem a little harsh.)

  2. I started a post last night, with the title “Confusion,” in which I wrote some stuff about the fluctuating temperatures around here (for example, yesterday the high was allegedly 47 degrees: today the high is supposed to be 19 degrees). I rarely start posts the night before; when I do, it’s because of an unusual circumstance. In this case, I’m going to my son’s school this morning at 8 AM, so I thought I might not have time enough to write a post this morning.  Almost always, when I start a post the night before, I don’t use it.

  3. Therapists are trained to keep confidential the identities of their clients. While the people referred to in this post are friends, not clients, I often get into the habit of “secretiveness” regarding personal details.

  4. Stop signs have shown up in previous posts, including herehere, and here. Thought stopping is also the last in this list of antidotes to unhelpful thoughts.

  5.  That baby made a previous appearance, here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Day 393: Left holding the bag (more idioms from Ann)

  1. I thought I liked the British saying so much at the start of this post Ann. “Left holding the baby!” Much more precious than our ‘the bag.’ And then, coming to the end, I’ve decided that “left holding the billboard” is now my favorite.

  2. Left holding the baby? Didn’t he go out with the bathwater?

    • Geesh, I hope not. If so, I might have to inform the proper authorities. Thanks for the questions, though (always great to see you here).

      • I didn’t have anything useful to add so I thought I’d go with mixed idioms. Or metaphors. Or similes. Or…

      • I would like to (1) argue that you did have something useful to add and (2) thank you for your continuing additions.

  3. Unbelievable. I too am dealing with anger, Ann. And it is exactly for the reason(s) you stated. (At least some of them). Due to my kind heart, it has been known I am taken advantage of. Expectations are put on my head. And the subject matter that which I am speaking of is the care of animals.

    For years my next door neighbor(s) have not taken care of properly the barn cats and wild/feral cats that frequent their barn. So, about 10 years ago, I stepped in, had the queens spayed (my cost), kittens fiixed (my cost) and started feeding starving animals good food. AND I brought in many of those kittens into my own house to care for and love. The years passed.

    The natural order of things were in BALANCE in that barn. One female “owned” that barn and one, at the most, two feral males would show up. I fed them, no matter the weather.

    Then, these neighbors decided to put their housecats in that barn, because they began to have children, and according to them, it just wasn’t working. They continued to expect me to feed their cats. I did so, out of the kindness of my heart. When they threw out the third cat, I exploded. And said I will not do this anymore! And I stopped.

    Now, there is a mess (again) over in that barn. Now 3 ferals have shown up because the BALANCE IS out of whack. A coon who won’t stay in hybernation is stealing the cats’ food. The owners are not putting enough food out to begin with. Starving cats and terrized cats are now the case over in that barn.

    A phone call I received yesterday. One of the owners wants me to catch one of the wild cats (the most aggressive one) and either take him to a shelter (I shudder at the thought…..IF you have seen the condition of shelters here you would understand) OR for ME to put him down. I was shocked. Again, these people expect me to clean up THEIR messes.

    I marched over to that barn and observed. I SAW what really is going on and I called these people back. That coon needs to go, number one, I said. Secondly, the third cat you threw out is harrassing everyone and scaring the beejeebers out of all the cats. The female is not going to make it at the rate things are going. There are two many males and she is absolutely frozen in fear. Could you possibly bring her back in the house? I was told “not going to happen”.


    I tossed and turned all night long. Four am found me awake. What do I do? The SPCA will not help, for they are so over their limit with cats and other animals, it is not funny.

    I again went over to that barn this morning. A trap is now set for that coon. GOOD! Someone is taking responsiblility! I again have begun to feed the cats, and clean out the litters that the owners are not doing (what a frigging mess!). By rights, I should not be doing this, for this is NOT my responsibility to feed someone else’s cats. BUT. And this is why I tossed and turned all night long. How will I live with myself if there are deaths involved and I did nothing about it?

    Bless you, Ann. I got a huge load off my chest. IF anyone reads these words, and IF you have any solutions, please speak to me. I will not bring any cat to a shelter only to sit in a cage. That is cruel. Especially for a WILD cat. I will NOT euthanize any cat just because this cat is an inconvenience to my neighbors.

    When LIVES are involved, I take it very seriously. I am not the kind of person to look the other way. So if you want to say that to me, that number one, that this is really not my responsibility, don’t you think I already know this? My other neighbor when I told her what was going on, she bluntly said, “You can’t fix stupid, Amy.”

    • Bless YOU, Amy, for your kind heart. I am at a loss to consider what to do in this situation, also. It’s awful to feel responsible in a situation where you have limited control — especially when the lives of creatures you love are involved.

      Thanks so much for reading and speaking from your heart and mind. All my best wishes to you in dealing with this difficult situation. And I do hope that somebody else might comment, too, if they have helpful thoughts or information.

      • Bless you, Ann. My words yes were spoken from my heart. And yes, things are much more under control in that barn because those cats are being fed. It is so frigid cold here even the schools are closed. So to have housecats inside a barn where I cannot keep their drinking water dish unfrozen…..that is a nightmare for them. To hell with pride or being taken advantage of. I will feed these cats even though three of them are my neighbor’s cats that were thrown out. And yes I will keep cleaning out the kitty litters that my neighbor’s cats use. The neighbors refuse to clean them or feed them good or enough food. So I will.

        There is a saying. What goes around comes around. God help these people when things catch up to them, and they will. Thank God I live where I do to help these poor precious animals out. Even the horse I make sure she has enough water in her bucket. And I give her extra food as well.

        I am so grateful that you listened to me. That meant the world to me. No need to answer this, Ann. I don’t know how you do what you do as it is.

        Love, Amy

  4. I too have feelings of being left ‘holding the bag’ (the one who was left but also having the mess to clean up) and it can hurt at times. I am trying to re-frame it as things I have to do for my new life – getting rid of things from my old life are essential to providing space for things in my new life.
    However, I am also learning to stand up for myself and accept that it is not my total responsibility to clear up all the mess. Slow process. Thanks for the post. I found it though-provoking.

    • Thanks for this thought-provoking response, Elizabeth. All the best to you as you move forward, in new and courageous ways of dealing with past pain.

  5. Pingback: Day 423: Teaching an old dog new tricks | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  6. Pingback: Day 571: Anxiety | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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