Let go of should
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live up to an imagined ideal. The order in which life is supposed to happen: high school, college, marriage, family. The careers we think we’re supposed to have: something practical that can pay for the nice house, nice car, and college fund for your future kids so they can follow the same unspoken rules of how life ought to be lived. That we’re supposed to be successful, according to our pre-defined ideas of what constitutes success. And happy, of course. Always very, very happy.
So when the unexpected and unplanned smacks you upside the head, and you’re faced with some messy real life that doesn’t fit nicely into the pre-formed diorama you envisioned, your psyche does a fair bit of scrambling in an attempt to regroup, categorize, and justify.
Sometimes you stick the landing after vaulting into your new paradigm. More often, though, that ingrained determination of how things should be– how a family should look– is so deeply etched that your brain refuses to acknowledge reality, stubbornly clings to a fake future, and a schism erupts.
The most powerful thing a counselor ever told me was that, in her experience, anxiety disorders manifest when a patient is faced with a disconnect between what is and what should be.
What should be.
The problem with “should” is that the word itself implies that right now, this moment, this reality is not enough. We are not enough. We should be other than. Life should be other than. Different, better, faster, more.
What about life just… being? Not how life should be; how life is. What if all that energy we waste on wishing for other, for else, for not-this, went into appreciation instead? Into gratitude? Into finding your niche and filling that instead of beating yourself senseless and bloody against the unyielding should?
As Hunter S. Thompson wrote in this powerful letter, we don’t have to accept the choices presented to us by life as we know it. What about life as we don’t know it? Life as adventure? Life outside of should?
When faced with a question and answers marked A, B, and C, it’s okay to choose D: None of the above. Write in your own answer. Color outside the lines.
It’s only when you let go of should that true potential to become a functional blended family enters.
Oh hey there, struggling stepparent!
Listen, I put together a new website just for high-conflict blended families: Blended Family Frappé. Come on over and join the hundreds of other stepparents who are reclaiming their sanity one Sunday newsletter at a time.