Years of therapy and personal development elevated my sensitivity to the word “should” and its well intentioned but woefully misguided uses, or rather abuses in our culture. The beginning of “should” awareness came in my mid-twenties as I discovered the toxicity of my codependent ways. There is nothing more effective than mothering a toddler, while pregnant with another child, and going through a divorce to hurl you into the festering bowels of introspective reflection.
In hindsight, the obstacles to my sanity feel so obvious… I believed, with tragic sincerity, that the world, in its entirety, ebbed and flowed, according to three things:
1.) The magnitude of my “good-ness” as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc. – If the people were happy, then I was “good” and likewise, if the people were unhappy, it was clearly because I failed them.
2.) The strength of my commitment to “do” – I helped, volunteered, donated, hosted, coordinated, befriended, sustained, accompanied, advocated, endorsed, assisted, etc. myself nearly to death.
3.) The size of my rear end – I wish, like you can’t imagine, that this was a joke but it is the truth. As I moved into a more healthy mindset, my body came along for the ride. I lost about 60 pounds and felt more healthy, energized, and active than I had since early childhood. As summer came into bloom, I discovered a shocking truth… when it is hot outside, even the skinny me sweats!
This may sound insane (or not) but I realized that for YEARS when I went outside the whole sweating thing happened in my mind (and heart, and soul, and fear) because I was fat. What the hell type of self-inflation does it take for a reasonably intelligent woman to believe that her extra 60 pounds causes her to sweat, instead of the oppressive humidity and 97 degree heat of an August afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee.