Therapy is so interesting.
You go in seeking one thing and often end up with another.
Recently, this has been the case for me.
In the session we discussed resentment. My therapist pointed out that until recently, I resented my job for not offering me time off after my miscarriage.
She was right.
To me, the humane thing would have been to tell my ass to stay home and not come in until I was ready. But, that’s not what happened.
In reality, I worked and I worked for a lot of reasons. I worked because no one offered me time off, but also because I felt guilty and I was disappointed in myself. In a desperate attempt to find normalcy in my life after such a chaotic and tragic event, I worked. To me working allowed me to fly under the radar and it decreased how hypervisible I was. My body could not act right but at least I could work. And I excelled. I was the perfect employee, but I was dying inside and hoping someone would see me and insist that I seek help and take time off.
That insistence never came.
To be honest, I also wasn’t confident and didn’t think I would receive grace to get time off. It scared me to think about what I needed and scared me even more that I could be rejected. But the kicker was that in conjunction with all of those feelings, I also believed I should be better. Women miscarry all of the time and so I should be able to function, I shouldn’t be as depressed as I am, and I should work. Furthermore, if I should be all of these things then my job should have known I needed time off anyway and they should have offered it to me.
Still, again this is not what happened.
Instead, I had to tell someone what I needed. So, I reached out to HR (again) and got the sweetest woman in the world to speak with me. And you know what else? I got that time off—effective starting April 24th. More magical though is that the time off is for the same amount of time that I miscarried. 11 days and that seems fair to me.
So, what does this have to do with writing you ask?
Well, after leaving my appointment it dawned on me how much the word “should” has made life harder for me and often harder than it had to be. This was especially the case when it concerned writing.
“Should” was ruining my writing.
When I see all of these talented women writers thriving at all ages, a voice in my head goes: “You should be there now too.” “Shouldn’t your book be finished by now?” “You should have a novel published.” “Shouldn’t you have more blog followers.” “You should quit if you haven’t done these things you should have done by now.”
It’s a lot and I can’t seem to catch a break even from myself.
Nevertheless, my therapist calls the word “should” a sign of cognitive distortion. In short, “should thoughts” are irrational thoughts. They aren’t realistic and all they do is make us feel bad, guilty, disappointed, and resentful.
This has definitely been the case for me at work and with my writing and it’s ruining me.
All the things I “should” be doing or “should” have done by now make me sad. I grieve them all the time, but while I’m grieving I’m not writing and while I’m grieving I’m not getting the time off that I deserve.
“Should” thoughts are lies and while it’s okay to have standards, hopes, and ambition, it’s important to realize when we’re not thinking clearly.
This is true concerning my miscarriage and my writing.
First of all,
the kind of novel I’m writing can’t be rushed. I don’t intend to take years finishing this second draft, but my book requires living, research, and time. Forget what I said when I was 16, this book will not be finished by the time I’m 25 (besides, I’m already 25), but I’ve been grieving this even though I know the truth.
Words with Randie was also not created to make a profit. It was created to be a platform, to get me back to writing, and to get me to accept and acknowledge some hard truths while building a relationship with others. Words with Randie was created to keep me from killing myself—literally and figuratively, but it would also have the added benefit of being here for people to see that I can write and write well, dammit. It would act as a resume almost, a place to show that I am multifaceted, talented, and passionate about writing, language, and communication through the written word.
But “should” thoughts have taken my eyes off of the prize and off of myself.
Essentially, “should” statements in life and writing neglect a truth we all know. That truth is: everybody has their own path. My writing career will not look like anyone else’s and while there may be millions of women who chose and choose to work and keep working after a miscarriage without a break, I am not that kind of person.
Faking the funk has been killing me.
“Should” thoughts have been killing me and I need a break from death, you know?
I also have to get back to writing and stop mourning all the things I “should” have accomplished by now, because those thoughts don’t serve me and they’re unhelpful.
It’s hard to break a habit I’ve always had, but it’s nice knowing that a habit I have is irrational and can be trained away with acknowledgement and time.
Moving forward, I plan to do my best to ignore “should” thoughts. How about you?
What are some “should” thoughts that you struggle with? I would love to know. Comment below. xoxo.