Some rules you just have to follow – like wearing your seat belt. It protects everyone. Some rules are guidelines for being a good person – like the Golden Rule. Some rules we impose on ourselves and sometimes those need to be broken.
I have always been a rule follower. Fear of getting caught and fear of doing the wrong thing have been guide posts for me. I never skipped school or stayed out past my curfew when I was young. (There definitely were some rules I broke but my mom and my kids read this blog so we will just keep it at that). But in general, I follow the rules. I don’t cut in line or pay bills late or keep food past the expiration date. I turn off my cell phone when instructed and wear my sunscreen. I drink my 8 glasses of water a day and exercise religiously.
And then there are the rules and expectations that I have imposed on myself. Those are the ones I feel like breaking. My whole life I did things in order – high school, college, job, graduate school, marriage, house, baby…. Part good fortune for sure, but also good planning. I had an idea of how things should progress in my life and I stuck to the plan. And then the plan blew up – my husband got sick and died.
As a widow and a single mom I made a new plan for myself or at least I tried to. It involved hard work, endless parenting, managing things on my own, and bracing myself for things to stay hard. I started to fix up things in the house in case I needed to move. I threw myself into a tender work experience (the company where my husband worked) so I could get health insurance. My plan was – survive. My plan was – launch these kids. My plan was – steel yourself. Then maybe there would be a chance to grieve on my own or maybe a chance to do something creative. But that could and would only happen when I had followed all the rules and met my own expectations. I am blowing up that plan.
The truth is anytime I stepped away from convention and colored outside the lines I never regretted my choice. I did not marry the boy next door. I married my beautiful foreigner who didn’t have a green card (and didn’t get one by marrying me either, BTW) and came from a different culture and religion. I can’t imagine my life without the lessons I learned from marrying someone from the other side of the world. So maybe I know how to break some rules already.
Late this winter I treated myself to a more comfortable car. I was miserable in the seat of my old car. I would want to tear my own leg off I was so uncomfortable. I wrote in a recent blog about my dance with anger and my new found love of swearing. So hell yes, I said what the **!! and bought a car that I didn’t have to feel miserable in. I decided I didn’t have to suffer through it because I don’t really need a new car. I have not regretted it once.
New rule: I don’t have to be in pain.
My sister is the one that pointed out to me that my life plan imploded so why try to stick to a new one?
One of my boys said recently when your life is sh*t and you see a flower, go stand next to the flower. Great rule.
I swore I would never get another pet and a brand new baby kitten is moving in. I spontaneously left work early one day last week to get out for a walk in the sun. I put whipping cream in my coffee this morning and sat on my deck all evening instead of exercising. I shared a Hunka Chunka Fudge ice cream sundae for dinner one night in a Friendly’s parking lot – not a good plan – a great one!
Who knows what I might do next?
I wonder what rules you have created for yourself? I wonder what rules you might break?