Bitter Pill, Thy Name is Great Expectation

...let go of hurt or anger or sadness, for like grains of sand it just takes up space and gets you nowhere ...

One time over dinner, a friend of mine and I got into a little spat because she said something that hurt me deeply. The following day, I sent her a text message and told her how her cutting remarks made me feel. She replied that she was sorry that I felt that way, but that all she had done was respond to what I had said earlier on (what these were I don’t really remember anymore, but bottom line, it turns out that I had kind of set myself up for the whole thing). She went on to tell me that maybe I was not aware of it, but that I had a penchant for self-sabotage. She ended with, and Ri, you seem to thrive a lot on drama. It’s as if you actively, although unintentionally, seek to get hurt and disappointed by the people around you. What you don’t realize, however, is that you set up the stage for this to happen…you invite it and when it comes, you cling to it and don’t let go. And you know what the sad part about this is, Ri? It’s that one, you don’t realize it, and two, you tend to create this all in your head and catastrophize it so much so it consumes you almost completely.

Um…hello? Are you kidding me??? I never really saw myself as that and tell me, please, who enjoys getting hurt in the first place? And hello…I make it all up???

Yes, those were the thoughts going on in my head as she told me that and I cried my little itty bitty heart out. By the end of our conversation, however, I did come to the realization that yes, maybe most of my bitter disappointments in people around me and why I keep failing at relationships (be it in any way, shape or form) were mostly my doing.

It wasn’t till the other night during dinner with a friend from college that I came to the realization that perhaps the reason why I would always get so disappointed and hurt in others is because I set very high expectations of them, particularly because I expect them to be the way that I am. More so, since I “get” them, I expect that they get me too, without me needing to explain or demand things. Because I expect them to know what I want or what I need, when they don’t meet that expectation, I get upset and feel unliked or unloved.

It’s funny, though, how such a random comment she gave led me to this conclusion. She said something about how, even though others may have no fault in the situation, there just is something in them that pushes your buttons and despite all logic and conscious effort, you fall into the trap.

Well, I gave it some thought (yes, despite killing yet another hundred thousand brain cells over dinner and drinks) and came to the conclusion that although I am trying to become more mindful of myself, I am not mindful about others behaviors. I have to remind myself that despite all my efforts, I really have no say at all but I expect these behaviors to be in a certain way of to fit me right. It seems that because I set too high an expectation for them because we are “friends”, they fall short. The problem is, more than anything, is I never say anything about it. Add to this, I tend to operate on an “all-or-nothing” principle: either we’re friends or we’re not friends. So if you’re on the “friends” list, you can expect equal treatment and attention and everything else from me.

In many ways, I think one of my blogger friends had it right when she said ‎relationships are like sharing a book, it doesn’t work if you’re not on the same page. Perhaps that’s why these aren’t working…not only aren’t we on the same page, many times (especially in my the highly cognitive and logical world I live in), we’re not even looking at the same book. Perhaps they see the graphs and figures, but all I see are colors and shapes. And because we don’t see things from the same vantage point, this pushes my buttons. What’s that saying from Grey’s Anatomy again? What’s up with the need to hit the self-destruct button? Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we’re wired that way. Because without it, I don’t know, maybe we just wouldn’t feel real. What’s that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop”. I suppose my great expectations are like that proverbial hammer, and this leads to my self-sabotage and destruction.

So, in the spirit of being mindful, I am making a conscious decision to not expect too much of people around me and perhaps accept the fact that we really are not on the same page often times. Just because we’re friends or in a relationship doesn’t mean we have to stay with just one book, right?

While I may never, for example, leave a friend in the lurch simply because “something came up”, I can understand that maybe others would do that. Similarly, while I may not demand things be done my way, I will accept that others may expect that. With this, I think I can let go of some of the hurt and disappointment it causes.

Come to think of it, when I think about my relationships that actually work, these are the ones that seem to not have as many rules and expectations. Yes, these are the uncomplicated, just because and unexplainable relationships in my life that seem to happen so serendipitously that at times all I can simply do is thank the high heavens for. These are the relationships that exceed far and beyond any expectation I could have ever imagined. These are the relationships in which I find a sincere appreciation for who I am and not what I can do. Here I know I am truly welcomed into their lives and so I learn to trust in the process. And because I can let my guard down a bit, I find that expectations are no longer necessary because even before it is asked for, everything I need and want is already given and in these relationships. And despite there being occasional disappointments and hurts, there never is any room for bitterness.

Drop the hammer, Ri, drop the hammer.

Photo: “346 The days are slipping away” by Janine, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

  • #1
    Posted by Mom Writes on December 27th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    A very exceptional post Marz!

    As for me, I expect too much from the SKUNK so I ended up hurting and disappointed. I tried to accept him for what he is but sometimes I have these expectations and ideals that I could not contend with. 🙁

    The sad part on the matter, there are children involved so I could not just walk away from it. Darn! LOL!

  • #2
    Posted by yapatoots on December 28th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    hugs marz….i think its something many of us do…hope against hope, keep wishing even if we know better…..lets work on this together! teeeheeeeheeee

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