The End of Should

Tonight, while eating the dinner I prepared for us (Wild Caught Salmon sauteed with butter, lemon and dill weed with Quinoa and a Broccoli, Red Pepper and Onion dish cooked with olive oil, garlic and some other spices), I started thinking about the foods I eat just because they are supposedly good for me. Taking my last bite of the food (I’m good at cleaning my plate), I said aloud to Beth, “Y’know I really don’t like any of the things we’re having tonight. In fact, a lot of the stuff we eat that’s good for us, I eat for one reason only – it’s what I’ve been led to believe I SHOULD eat.”

There are other things in my life that remind me of the food example above. For example, I have owned a Toyota Prius for ten years. Everyone says it’s a wonderful car and it certainly is a money saver. However, I’m 6’3″ and it’s not a comfortable vehicle for me to drive or be the passenger. My wife loves it, but I use it because I SHOULD be driving an economical car. I’d much rather drive my Ford F150.

Back in the 90s, I worked in the carpet business for 7 years until one day walking down 14th Street in Manhattan I said, “WTF. I hate this job!” Lucky for me, I met Beth and we figured out an alternative that pleased me much more – children’s music.

Here’s another should – I’ve always attended Thanksgiving and Christmas with my mom after my parents got divorced. I know my mom was doing her best to make the holidays nice, but the truth is that I was present because I was told I SHOULD be there-even though I hated it. This went on for decades. I would have much rather gone on a vacation.

Are you noticing a pattern? Evidently, I have a history of should-ing myself and I’m not very quick to notice it. Or, I’m a people-pleaser and afraid to stand up for myself.

The second trait on the Laundry List for Adult Children of Alcoholics is “We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.” So, this discovery about myself is in keeping with my work in the program. One of the promises in the program is that after attending meetings and doing the other program work, is that we will begin to heal and make some changes. It seems like I’m on schedule to do just that.

I know it sounds wacky that I’d stay in jobs I hate, eat food I don’t particularly like or drive a car that’s too small for me, but that’s what some of us do when we’re trying to “go along to get along.” We give up our identity.

My sense is that I’ve done this with some of my music, too. I’ve been conspicuously careful to not write stuff that’s objectionable to anyone. Well, that’s been changing, too. My latest batch of songs is political and very opinionated. Again – I’m on schedule.

I don’t think that this is a mid-life crisis. I think it’s a recalibration, a reckoning with my false self and the awakening of my True Self. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at the grocery list.

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