What Does “Should” Really Mean?

It has almost become cliche’ to say “don’t should all over yourself.”  I know that until recently I have not internalized the meaning of that phrase, and honestly it irritates me when I hear it.  I have an understanding of why it irritates me so much, the real reason.  I’ve found it through a very difficult journey I am in the middle of right now.   This journey is the reason I started this blog.

I have toyed in my head with how much of ME am I really willing to put out to the world.  Do I have the courage to be truly raw and open with people I don’t know?  How will I get through the inevitable pain of being judged or criticized by someone I don’t even know?  Honestly, there are only 4 people that even read this blog so what am I really worried about?

The characters in my journey are basically the defense mechanisms that helped me survive this world until I could find recovery.  This is the story of MY life and the views I share are from my perspective.  I own it and I am “Daring Greatly.”

I lived a life of “should” because I lived to please others. What I wanted was never a consideration.  This is not to say I didn’t want things, but what I wanted was whatever it took to get “love” from other people.  I remember this from my first memories.

The list of shoulds:

  • Be quiet
  • Be clean
  • Dress like the other girls
  • Don’t eat too much
  • Don’t eat too little
  • Do eat this
  • Don’t eat that9fc51-file451297827287
  • Don’t show your anger
  • Don’t cry
  • Don’t laugh too loud
  • Do as your told
  • Don’t defend yourself
  • Don’t expect anything from anyone
  • Don’t let anyone take care of you
  • Don’t trust anyone
  • Don’t trust yourself
  • Be active
  • Exercise all the time
  • Don’t be lazy
  • Don’t make more money than your husband
  • Don’t put pressure on your husband
  • If you don’t look perfect stay in the house

I’ll stop there.  I never really thought of these as shoulds, they were my reality.  These are the reasons that Brenda the Avenger came to be.  I needed to shutdown any and all feelings and be on high alert at all times.  Honestly, BTA kept me alive even when I didn’t really want to be alive.

My numbing agents run the gamut, but alcohol and eating disorders are the two that brought me to my knees.  I had no choice but to ask for help.   I gave up alcohol 4 ½ years ago, and it was that day that my eating disorder took over.  It took until last October for me to see what was happening.  Stepping out of my life for a while to get help was the hardest and most courageous thing I have ever done.  It is also the scariest!  I feel exposed.  My feelings are raw.   Brene’ Brown  talks about this in “The Power of Vulnerability” , you cannot numb the dark without numbing the light.  I numbed the joy when I numbed the pain.  She said that it is like being a turtle without a shell in a briar patch.  It’s time to get out of the patch and quit searching for a new shell.


My dietitian pointed out to me last week that I am always saying should.  She asked me, are those things you want to do?  I want you to do the things you want to do.  I was taken back a bit, because I felt like in 4 years I had learned so much about myself and here I am again.  I am at the cross roads of should and want.

I looked up the definitions of the word should, since I seem to assign my own definitions to some words, and the first two are:

“1. Used to indicate obligationduty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

  1. Indicating a desirable or expected state.”

Those describe exactly what my list of should do to me.   They are my expectations of me and my criticisms of myself.  Who would think one word would have so much power?  I gave it that power.

I am on a journey to live differently, see myself differently and allow joy back into my life.  I am going to spend this year practicing being kind to myself and learning what it is I WANT to do, to be, to see, to say and to feel.


I don’t have the equipment to do a vlog on this journey, but I want to do pictorial posts on adventures, activities and projects to see what shakes out.

I am going to put up a poll of ideas and see what the four of you want to see first.  If you have any ideas please share them in the comments.  I love hearing from you.

cowl scarf

What is Love?

I like Brene’s definition of love in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.  It is not something we give and get, it is something that we nurture and grow.  A connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them.  We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.  Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and RARE.”

I am currently working on the the phrase in bold.  There  is a long list of things I love about myself and they are all the things that really matter.  The things I don’t come down to unrealistic expectations.  Also, my unyielding desire to be perfect, which I never have and never will attain. There is a critical voice inside, who I have named “Little Miss Perfect”, that I am working on quieting and softening her words and getting her comfortable with the fact that perfect isn’t possible, nor something I want to be.  There is beauty in imperfections and there is a tremendous amount of love that comes from accepting and owning our imperfections.

Today I know I am worthy of love, and this knowledge is on the 1,000 mile journey to my heart where knowledge becomes belief.

Who else out there is on this journey too?!  I know I am not alone.  Talk to me.

My favorite quotes:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know the word peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience will benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.  They are fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will materialize if we work for them.”

AA, Pp 83-84

“Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it.  Then he will know loneliness such as few do.  He will be at the jumping off place.  He will wish for the end.

‘…I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?’

Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that.  It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous.  There you will find release from care, boredom, and worry.  Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last.  The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship and so will you.

Among them you will make lifelong friends.  You will be bound to them with new wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey.”

AA, Pp 152-153

I have found these to be true in all areas of my life.  If it weren’t for this book and the 12 steps I would not be able to see myself and my life as clearly as I do today.  Through this process I actually have a relationship with God.  I have always had faith and believed in Him, but today I hangout with Him and know that when I see something in myself no one else sees, it is God directing me.

Today I have so many people that I can call, lean on, count on, whom I love so deeply, they have become a part of me.  Life still gets tough, but God has laid the path before me to succeed, if I am willing to do the work.  Work I must, so work I do!!

Wins & Growth Opportunities

Mornin’!  This is my first journal post for my daily review.


I judge myself so harshly that  it was suggested that I journal about the things I did well each day, and what I’d do differently on the things I did’t do well.

This weekend my days blended together so here is a weekend review.

When I review my day it is so easy to get caught up in the To Do’s that are still undone.  The mistakes, perfectionism and all the work I “need to do” for my trauma and E.D. work and meetings that things fall through the cracks.  It happens to everyone, but there is part of me that knows that and doesn’t care ” Little Miss Perfect”.  I named her just now…that’s a good thing.  Now I can develop a healthy relationship with that part of myself.


I completed my first knitted slouch hat Friday night/Saturday morning, and it is a mess.  The win is that I love it anyway.  It is perfectly imperfect just like me. I plan on doing a post about it with pictures and everything.  I learned in the process about knitting and about myself. I’ve been wearing the hat all weekend.

Healthy purging: I removed from my apartment all the excess that I don’t use or can’t wear. Cleaned and threw out all the trash.  I always want to try and recycle/recreate things and part of my creative projects, but there has to be a limit.  I recycled all glass and other recyclables, trashed and and donated the rest.  It is such a good feeling.Nike Swoosh

i  did my chores so I am not looking at things that need to be done…they are done.  I always think of the Nike swoosh when I tell myself ” Just do it!!”

I ate when I was hungry.

I texted friends to see how they were doing.

I didn’t weigh myself.  My nutritionist is going to liberate my scale if I don’t stop weighing myself all the time.

I cooked two meals for myself.  Small step for mankind, GIANT step for me.

My dining table is cleared and set for dining only.  This where I will eat and experience my food by candle light, with music, flowers and lots of self love and kindness.

I got dressed and actually looked at myself in the full length mirror. There was no verbal or internal ripping myself apart.  I was able to stop when they started to come up.  Those thoughts are simply not welcome anymore, though I know they will visit and bang on the door often for a while.  Today I said  “NO!  Go away!”

I sketched Brenda the Avenger last night.  This was a step toward helping this part of me relax.  She jumps in when I am in fear, shame, loneliness, sadness and blocks these feelings so I am either numb or angry.  My goal is to see if I can get her to relax enough to allow me to feel these things and do my work




I was up all night Friday night finishing my hat.  No sleep until morning and late night eating. Binged on trail mix, banana chips, PB and Crackers.

These were not excessive, but definitely a step in the wrong direction.

When I notice these things I want to:

1. Stop and say a prayer

2. Journal about why and what is going on.

3. Forgive myself and renew my promise to myself to heal.

Things I can do to stay on track:

Stay on my sleeping and eating schedules –  not skipping snacks or meals,

Sleep and rest are key to a balanced and healthy life.

Keep up with 3 meetings a week.

Anyone want to share their Wins & Growth Opportunity?  I love hearing from you!!

Courageous Journaling

My journal ideas come from my team of women, who are helping me find balance and peace within myself and with the areas in life with which I struggle.  I struggle with many things, like everyone does to a small degree.  There are two things that have both threatened my life, alcohol and disordered eating.  These two things teamed up for many years, and during my short period of living in New Orleans, they nearly killed me.  At the time I did not know this, but looking back I can see more clearly my path.

I have been sober since 7/18/2010, one year after losing my mother.  I believe that once she passed and got to see my life, she spiritually kicked my butt all the way into a 12 Step Program.  The miracle of it all is, back  then I assumed that when things got tough I would always default to alcohol, or have the desire to, but today the thought does not even cross my mind during the hard times.  I am so grateful for this gift.

Today I also realize that what I always viewed as a weight problem, is actually an eating disorder, which has morphed and grown in strength over time.  Once again, right at a key turning point I was able to see not only that I had a problem, but what I needed to do to address it.  I had to step out of my life for a month to really look at and get a good start on addressing the variety of behaviors i act on.


Today I know that not only do I need to focus on intuitive eating and life balance, I HAVE to and WANT to root through the root cause, which is childhood trauma, of why I do what I do.  When people say your secrets will kill you…IT IS TRUE!!!  All of these secrets almost killed me many times.

It takes a village to raise this inner child and I am armed with  so many friends and resources.



Journal Ideas:IMG_0424

1.  Nightly journaling of what I did right in every area of my life that day and what I would do differently for any mistakes. I will only post one here.

2. During my meals, I have to write about the meal like I am writing for a newspaper article.  Describe the entire experience so that I am engaging all my senses in the process and I am emotionally connecting to the meal.  

Who wants to join me and share one of your journal entries on these ideas?