By MGAL Expert Theresa Robbins
Recently, MGAL Featured Expert, Lin Eleoff, wrote a hilariously brilliant post entitled, “June Cleaver Must Die Too!” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In it, Lin writes that we have been sold this image of what the perfect mom looks like, how she acts, and what she does…and how it is actually an unrealistic pile of crap that has harmed many a well-intentioned mom.
Oh sure, you know that vacuuming in heels and pearls and having still-warm-from-the-oven homemade cookies and ice cold milk on the table for your kids when they walk in the door everyday is not realistic, but on some level, there’s some concern or doubt that you aren’t doing things quite right.
Earlier this month I worked with a client who had experienced an abundance of change in the past few months. Her kids had flown the coop, her beloved dog died, and she is starting a new career. When speaking of all this change, she seemed to be looking on the bright side of things and yet, she still felt off. Like something wasn’t quite right.
As we talked, she suddenly began crying and wailed, “My dog died and I really miss him, but I know I shouldn’t. He was just a dog. People think I’m crazy, but I can’t help it, I miss him!”
This smart, dynamic, self aware woman was judging herself by her perception of someone else’s standards of how she should grieve. She was beating herself up by telling herself it was wrong for her to grieve the loss of her dog and consequently, had not allowed herself to grieve.
We worked on it during the session and she decided to give herself the time and space she needed to grieve even though it may or may not be acceptable to the rest of the world. She felt freer and lighter afterward even though she still felt the pain of his loss.
Oddly enough, my beloved golden retriever died that same afternoon.
Coincidence? I doubt it.
As I sunk into grief, I was fully aware of my desire to grieve without judgment. So I vowed to set all should’s aside and do my grief my way. Doing so meant I had to give up my preconceived notions of what anyone else thought was right for me.
I can’t know for sure, but I doubt June Cleaver would have grieved her dog by lying in bed sobbing uninterrupted for hours…but I did. She probably would have made dinner and cleaned the kitchen. I let my husband handle it. She would have continued with her normal schedule the next day like nothing was wrong. I took several days off to do what I wanted, when I wanted and without any judgment of what was “right” or “wrong.”
It was glorious. Heart wrenchingly painful, but glorious.
I grieved my dog’s passing cleanly. By letting whatever happen happen, I also reached a genuine level of acceptance amazingly quickly.
It was absolutely freeing.
And I am all about freedom. And dang it, I’m worth it!
Freedom is a feeling. It is an emotion. It is a way of life. Freedom is a choice.
Your thoughts create your feelings. That means the thoughts you choose to believe either make you feel free or imprisoned. Freedom comes from you. It comes from the choices you make about what to believe.
If you believe it’s not only okay, but best if you take care of yourself, you will free yourself to care for yourself. Instead of feeling guilty about hiring a sitter while you get a pedicure, you will come home feeling happy and free. And then you’ll pass it on to your family.
Feel guilty about your choice and you’ll pass that on instead.
It’s all up to you of course, but choose what’s right for you and allow others to do the same for themselves and you’re free. Choose how you handle every situation with your own best interests in mind, you’re free. Choose to release yourself from judgment for doing those things, you’re free.
Freedom is yours whenever you choose it.
Maybe you’ll start today by escorting your judgment out the door.
Oh and, by the way, if you ever catch me vacuuming while wearing pearls and heels, it is indicative of a psychotic break, so please guide me to seek professional help immediately. I’ll happily do the same for you.