Stop ‘should-ing’ yourself

After Charles’ addiction and suicide, I looked back with all the wisdom and all the facts of “after” and told myself I should have done something this way or that. I tortured myself with it. The coulda, woulda, shoulda consumed me for months and years.

I blamed myself for something I did, something I said, things I didn’t say or do. People tried to talk me out of it. They’d swear up and down that it wasn’t my fault. But that guilt baggage is part of the process of accepting the unfair end I’d been given.

But it’s not just parents of those who die by suicide that “should” themselves. It’s almost all of us at some point.

Parents with a loved one in addiction and even parents with a child suffering from a disease. Because there is always, “Should I have had children if I knew I had this gene to pass on?” People in hospice looking back at their lives “should” themselves. And so on.

“Should-ing” is not productive. It’s also contagious. Once I start a conversation with someone else about it, they’ll join in and “should” themselves. That’s not healthy.

Breaking the habit can be hard.

Treating “the shouldas” started with awareness. Then I thought I was cured. But there were relapses. Then more awareness.

I’m not cured but I do recognize it and rebound faster. I do it less often by reminding myself, “Is that productive?” That way I can move forward and not let it pin me helplessly to the wall.

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Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory.

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