It is an unhappy sort of irony that ever since I switched the theme of my fruits of the spirit blog series to joy, joy has felt in rather short supply.
On Sunday Mike bundled baby bear and me into the car and took us on a surprise adventure for the afternoon – a trip to Zen, a resort on the Khan River, about half an hour from where we live.
It was a gorgeous spot on a relaxing Sunday afternoon and (despite the smile I have on my face in the photo above) how did I mostly feel? I mostly felt like this:
The neighbors behind the house have been using electric power tools to sand wood for hours every day for three weeks, which is about the same amount of time as I’ve been struggling with chronic neck pain. Mike’s away a third of the time at the moment. I’ve been worried about my milk supply. Ants keep mounting exploratory expeditions into our closet and underwear drawers and hiding places you wouldn’t expect, like cracks in the chair I routinely sit down to feed Dominic in. And Dominic, he can go most of the night without needing to eat now, but that doesn’t mean he stays asleep that whole time. Also, he seems to think 4 or 5am is the official start to the day. I can’t imagine where he got that idea from, Michael.
To make matters worse, as I’ve felt more and more depressed this last week I’ve also found myself increasingly tripping over my own inner shoulds.
I should not feel this way when I have a healthy child who smiles at me every day with the whole of his little face.
I should not feel this way when I am married to a man who means it when he tells me to wake him up if I need help in the middle of the night (when he’s in town, that is).
I should not feel this way while I live in a world where other women comb through my trash to collect empty tonic water cans – tonic water, incidentally, that I consumed with gin while sitting on the deck with Mike after he’d arrived home from work.
I should be able to hang onto a broader sense of joy, even on days when moment-by-moment happiness seems in short supply.
My inner shoulds can be useful in helping me effectively corral negative emotions, but this week they have compounded my problems. I have not only felt depressed, I have also felt weak. I have felt like a failure. I have looked out upon views like the one below and felt numb.
Do your inner shoulds help or hurt you? What inner shoulds do you find yourself tripping over?
This post is part of a series on the fruits of the spirit. The current theme is joy (which, despite the week I’ve just lived through, I do expect to return to my life one day soon).