Personal Growth

Your Shoulds and Should Nots

Lately, I’ve found myself in kind of a funk. I’m due to check in with my therapist soon, but in the meantime, I’m left to ponder what is going on internally. I won’t say this is the root of it all, but I think I’ve got a major problem with a particular word and its role in my life.


There are two definitions of this word that ring true to my dislike of it.

  • used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency
  • used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected

Oh yeah, “should” has been a major player in my life. We’re old friends. Not the kind of friend you like to hang out with though. They’re the kind of friend that you’ve known for a million years, but you’ve grown apart, and you’re just not sure how to end the friendship because you don’t want to be a dick.

Next month will mark one year since Chris died. Honestly, I’m struggling with that knowledge. I truly cannot believe that it has been nearly a year. So much has happened within the course of this past year that I can scarcely believe I managed to cram it all in within that time. The worst part of it all though is that I’m not sure how I should feel. There it is again, should.

That thing I was terrified of happening, is now actually happening. I’m starting to forget a little bit. Chris is starting to, slowly, feel further away. He’s starting to feel more dead. I somewhat expected that I would mourn forever, mourn in the ways that I felt were right (i.e. a lot of crying and sighing). But now thinking of him doesn’t conjure up any of that. Looking at his picture is nice, but I don’t burst into tears anymore. But I feel like a piece of shit for not doing that. I feel like I should react that way at just the mention of his name or looking at his photo.

Since New Zealand, I sort of retreated into myself and haven’t been on a date since. I haven’t minded it. In fact, it’s actually been quite nice. But once again, recently I thought, well maybe I should go out and try to meet new people. I don’t want to turn into a hermit.

I went on a date with this really nice guy. He was very sincere and beautiful and pretty lovely. We hung out a few more times, and I found myself in this weird space internally. There was a part of me that wanted to be close, that wanted intimacy with this person, maybe even love. But I also felt like I didn’t know how to do that anymore. I sat there with myself thinking, in nearly scientific terms, I wonder what being in love feels like? It has been so long since I’ve felt that. The idea of love, and being in love, feels so far away from me right now. I feel like that feeling is walled up behind glass and I’m just on the outside peering in and observing it.

And yet that word kept popping up in my head. That I should be able to feel that way, and I shouldn’t be so closed off. Was I closed off? Or was this just maybe not the right person? I should be able to open up my heart at will and the fact that I can’t is a problem. Is it that I can’t, or that I don’t want to? I should still be a wreck over Chris, but I’m not. I ended things with that guy because it went a little too fast for what I was comfortable with and I didn’t like it. But it still bothers me.

Because I didn’t feel anything. And I think that I should.

I guess I expected that of all the topics in my life, that Chris is the one that should most definitely be able to evoke a powerful emotional response from me. And yet it’s not. And it freaks me out. I’m over here wondering if I’m just, like, dead inside now or something?? Is this how I should be feeling?

And other things where should and should not rear their ugly heads.

  • I should not, under any circumstances, gain weight in my mid-section. It makes me hate myself. I’d happily gain it anywhere else, but I feel gross if it’s in my stomach for some reason? I’ve tried very hard to let that shit go, but I seemingly cannot.
  • I should not, definitely not, harbor such anger for Chris’s former girlfriend. And yet I do. And that makes me feel shitty sometimes. I should be mature and zen and take the high road, but I’m not.
  • I should exercise. I should be better about my finances and just cut up my last credit card.
  • I should not buy things that I don’t need.

The list goes on I tell you. It’s a battle between expectations, obligations, what I think I need to be doing/feeling/thinking versus what I’m actually doing/feeling/thinking.

I’ve continued to try dating, and when I stop for a moment, it kind of reminds me of what I was doing when I was in New Zealand. I didn’t really care about dating, yet I just kept on. Maybe I should just, you know, not, for a while. Carry on with my regularly scheduled activities.

Perhaps I’ve always been a little obsessed with knowing what to expect and should has been a reliable friend to lean on in that way. If it’s the case that I’m actually doing just fine, and not slowly turning into a sociopath, then cool.

But I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on. I know that I feel actually pretty content and happy overall, but I don’t know if it’s coming from me being actually happy with all the other things in my life that are going exactly as I’d hoped, and that, in fact, I’m finally starting to accept and cope with Chris’s death, and that maybe I’m just not in the right place in my life for love and I’m putting too much pressure on myself?

Or is it something else?

Only time will tell I suppose. It should, anyway.

1 reply on “Your Shoulds and Should Nots”

Oh darling. Feeling a bit numb after a huge loss is a part of grief. Please do not should all over yourself. You are young and healthy and free- you have so much time for love. Take the time to love on yourself.

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