I’m working on my shoulds, you know what I mean?

I’ve spent a long time working on my own shoulds. I should be in better shape, I should be able to handle all this, I should love every second of parenting, I shouldn’t have to ask for help.

Some statements are more true than others but not because of “should”. There’s want to and there’s don’t want to then there’s dammit, I choose not to feel societal pressure over some expectation or another. I’ve done mostly — okay, fairly — well with scrubbing “I should” from my self-talk. Let’s just say it’s an ongoing project and leave it at that.

But these days I’m battling other kinds of shoulds.

It’s rough when beliefs about other people come crashing down around me. It’s always those pesky shoulds banging around in my noggin that feel like torture: they should care enough to…they should have my back…they should respect my decisions…

That crap never fails to disappoint. Actions tell you everything you need to know, so when my brain starts arguing with what is literally happening in front of me the cognitive dissonance is deafening. I’m slowly stripping it all away. Someone either does or does not respect my decisions and that’s pretty much that. I’m no longer twisting myself in knots trying to figure out why someone who should have my back doesn’t. They just don’t.

And yes, that kind of sucks. But it sucks less than falling down the black hole of arguing about what’s right in front of me.