There's a list of words and phrases I don't allow my clients (or myself) to say. The aforementioned 'what if' is one of them. Another, perhaps the biggest and most important of the outlawed words, is should. In my experience, this the most destructive word in the English language and it's message comes through loud and clear- sometimes in unspoken ways.
The spoken is obvious. I should do this or that, I shouldn't have done this or that, I should be this way that I'm not. When heard from outside, it's you instead of I, but all the rest is the same. It's a comparison to some idealized reality or a command to improve in ways we can't. It comes from media, our families, friends, and yes- ourselves. And it hurts, every time. It's a one way ticket to shame town on a bullet train that gets faster the longer we're on it. And the number of shoulds seems to grow the more we listen to the messages.
The particular breed of shoulds I've been hearing a lot lately are about the holidays. And despite being in the midst of a pandemic where 3k plus people a day are literally dying there's still a ton of them going around. Shoulds about holiday decor. Shoulds about the perfect Christmas meal. Shoulds about gifts and showing love through monetary means (as if that's ever worked in the first place). And most of all shoulds about family togetherness. And right now I think that's the single most dangerous should we can buy into.
No, no one wants to zoom Christmas dinner. No one wants to exchange gifts virtually. No one wants to celebrate with Netflix and takeout instead of home-cooked family dinner and games. But right now I think that's the most loving thing we can do.
I don't know what's safe and what's not. I've given up on trying to figure out if I'm being overly cautious or taking really unnecessary risks. All I know is that one family dinner isn't worth dying over. And certainly not worth killing over.
So I'm telling that voice in my head that I should go see my parents to shut the hell up. I'm forgiving the part of me that is scared of doing the wrong thing, hurting people's feelings, and generally fucking up. I'm sitting in the quiet resilience that trusts that there will be another Christmas in the future that looks a lot more like ones of the past. Because if we all stay safe, there will be.