On the word “should”.

I am trying to discard the word “should” a bit more.  I should be stronger; I should be able to just carrying on functioning completely as normal despite having had my life change quite dramatically in the shape of a relationship breakdown and the death of a pet; I should go back to work three days after ending up in A&E with a panic attack that was so severe that one of my colleagues thought I was having a stroke; during my time off work sick I should tidy my flat and sort stuff out for moving; I should use the time off wisely and not just piss around doing nothing like I usually do; I should, I should, I should.

There is endless pressure, all the time, always.  From myself.  Nobody else is doing or saying this, it’s all me.  I have subsequently tried to look after myself by going to the doctor and asking for some time off (and as an actual first, recognising that I need it), asking my therapist for more sessions etc.  But this pressure within, it still builds, even though I know that I should (hah!) stop it and just give myself a freaking break.

So today, instead of coming home from my morning session and sorting out all the various things that I “should” sort out, I went and browsed my favourite second hand book store.  I bought an unholy amount of books, books that I want but don’t need, and went and sat on a bench in my favourite park and read.  And when I got tired of the bench because I wasn’t getting any sun, I went and lay down on the grass and soaked up the warmth reaching out from above me.  And when I finished that book, I chose the next book that I wanted to read from the vast pile before me, opened it up and carried on reading.

It was wonderful.  I believe that’s what they call “living in the moment”.  I like to think that I’m really good at that, but I don’t think I am.  I think that actually, most of the time I impose a bunch of rules on myself, for whatever reason.  Yes, housework is important and I need to sort stuff out.  But what’s more important right now is making sure that I look after myself a bit (I believe they call it nurturing in the therapy world), because I have nobody to do it for me and should (there goes that word again) expect nobody else to do it for me.  I’ve been a bit rubbish about that recently, and actually, that’s the only thing that I probably “should” change.  Nobody will die if I don’t tidy the house, it’s not as if I’m living in squalor and that I’m going to be featured on one of those Grime programmes about hoarders, it’s just a bit messy right now.  And my stuff can wait, I’m not moving for another month.  And, so…relax. *noise of pressure releasing*

Everyone deserves a bit of what they need, which is different to the stuff that you think you deserve (like that bottle of wine after a hard day, perhaps, to help you cope – that’s mindless indulgence, or just a coping strategy).  I mean the stuff that you actually need.  It’s a difficult task, though, actually trying to work out what that is, to know what you need, really need.  It’s easy to get it wrong, when you might not be able to ask yourself what you need in that moment, in case you don’t get the right answer, one that tallies up with what you think you want, or what you think you should have.  What I needed then was to lie in the sunshine and laugh at stories that transported me to another world while allowing me to enjoy the one that I inhabit, feeling the grass between my toes.  And it was fucking ace.  And one of the few times that I was able to really ask myself what I need, figure it out, and feed it.  Amazing.


2 thoughts on “On the word “should”.

  1. I’m so glad you’re giving yourself a break :) Though sometimes the bottle of wine isn’t just mindless indulgence… every now and again I have an evening where I have no plans so I’ll sort of pretend I’m my own girlfriend – buy myself a nice bottle of wine, and a treat for dinner that I cook for myself, and I settle down on the sofa to eat my steak and drink my Rioja and watch a film and it *is* indulgent, but its indulgent not just in terms of consumption but in the same way lying and reading in the sun is indulgent – it’s ‘unnecessary’ and luxurious, but for those very reasons it’s absolutely imperative. I suppose it depends on the motivation; if the idea is less ‘I’m going to sink a bottle of wine because I’ve hard a hard day’ and more ‘I’m going to treat myself to something nice and spend time on and with myself and create a bit of space in which I can reconnect with the romance of my internal relationship’ then it’s definitely something that’s needed.

    1. I completely agree with you! I guess what I was referring to was having that internal dialogue with yourself. If that means having a bottle of wine, then that’s what it means. It reminds me of a book that I’ve been reading which talks about how food is used, especially for women, as almost anything but what it was intended for. To feed yourself, when you are hungry, and understanding what you might actually need to feast on at the time. And how so many of us have lost the ability (myself definitely included in that) to recognise when we are hungry, physically hungry, instead thinking, “I’ve had a shit day, I’m going to eat my way through a massive packet of crisps”. That’s not hunger, it’s mindless eating, used to mask whatever emotion we’re feeling at the time instead of finding out what it is and dealing with it. Because it’s fucking hard! And because I don’t think that we get taught how, unless you are one of those supremely lucky people that have a happy childhood and don’t have an unhealthy relationship/obsession/call it what you will with eating and the way we look.

      But tangent, again! I have days like you describe as well. I love looking after the person that I love; to cook for them, to buy them flowers, to hug them after a hard day. I never did that for myself because I never even thought about it. Now I buy myself flowers and treat myself and am indulgent, but as you say, it’s imperative. And very important to be able to recognise the motivation behind it.

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