Introduction

I’ve struggled with shouldaholicism my whole life. Most of my decisions were filtered through a lens of “should/should not’ based on some standard that was inherited from past generations, my culture, our society, and my friends.

Most of the time, this was quite unconscious and for the most part, it kept me on the straight and narrow path to responsibility and productivity. However, in my 40’s, the drive to be better was no longer a positive motivator. It had turned into a never ending opportunity to say horrible things to myself about myself.

Initially, the labels felt rather logical. I didn’t get something done, I’m lazy. I made a mistake, I’m careless. I said something that didn’t make sense, I’m stupid. Unfortunately, it continued to escalate into more hateful and debilitating interpretations of who I was as a human being. Like: I feel tired, I’m worthless. Someone corrects an error I made, I’m completely incompetent. Someone questions a decision or opinion I have, I’m a bumbling idiot with no redeeming qualities.

This coincided with the time I realized that I didn’t like the way I was yelling at my kids, so I was working on how to change that, which gave me plenty of fodder to blame, shame, and guilt myself as I worried about negatively impacting the future of my children. All that fear-based thinking and decision-making had an adverse impact on my relationship with my kids. Plus I was sliding into a frenzied bouncing between anxiety-filled nights of waking up from panic attacks to depressing lack of motivation to do anything, even brushing my teeth.

How did I get there? More importantly, how was I supposed to get out?

That’s what this the Recovering Shouldaholic is all about.

I can honestly say that I had reached a point where I thought my brain was permanently damaged and that I would never be able to do anything productive ever again. Starting this healing journey was not even a choice. There was no where to go, I could go no lower. I had hit some strange rock bottom. It went beyond suffering and into a space of not caring. I had enough wherewithal to be concerned, but allowing myself to feel brought on a great deal of fear, rage, and panic that I couldn’t handle. I also felt a lot of pressure and shame, pressure to be okay and to function. Shame about being a failure. So it was difficult asking for help. Heck, it was difficult to figure out what kind of help I even needed.

So, yeah, starting the healing process was tricky.

But I’m on my healing journey, I’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m super excited to help others. So, join me here on Diary of a Recovering Shouldaholic! If I can help you, great! If not, help me help others.

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and recovering shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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