Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Post Estrangement: Managing my expectations

Expectations!  We all have them.  

The problem is when we equate expectations with fulfillment.  Not all expectations are fulfilled. 

Expectations are not always met and when we face unfulfilled expectations we can take the wrong message from the experience. 

To have hopes for how something could unfold is not a blue print for how it will unfold.  There are other factors involved in the process that we have no control over.

If I allow unfulfilled expectations to create resentment or bitterness in my life then my expectations have become a negative influence in my life.  I am learning that it is vitally important for me to “manage” my expectations versus allowing my expectations to “manage me”. 

What do I mean by this?  If my expectations “manage me”, I get upset when my expectations are not met.  I feel anger or resentment towards the person who I see as “having let me down”.  The problem here is that I have not taken into account what is happening in the other person’s life that prevents them from living up to my expectations.  If I do this, I am putting undue pressure on the other person to live up to my expectations and to what end?  

If I analyze this thought carefully I realize that my expectations are built upon the foundation of what I want for my gratification!

I have to learn to let go of expectations that come solely from a place of what I want and include also a recognition that the other person also has expectations and needs of their own.

If I do this I am in effect “managing” my expectations.  I am cognizant of the fact that what I expect may not be possible because my needs and the other person’s needs are not congruent.

If the other person does not live up to my expectations it is not because of some cosmic ill will, or even ill will on the part of the other.  It simply means that for whatever reason the other person is just incapable of doing what I expect because of where they are at emotionally or psychologically.  This is neither good nor bad it just is.  It is my interpretation that creates the stigma.

If I see their “letting me down” as a personal attack on me I become disappointed or angry or hurt.  On the other hand if I see their “letting me down” as a statement of their own shortcomings or personal demons I can feel compassion for their challenges and imperfections.  Once again in doing so I am in control of “managing” my expectations by selecting my response.

Of course, this is neither easy nor comfortable to do.  It is much easier to feel resentment and disappointment when my expectations are not met, than to “manage” my expectations to honour the other person’s challenges.

I find myself once again choosing to travel the more difficult path, as I try to learn to control those things in my life that can lead me toward negative responses.  

How does this reflection change my response toward my estranging offspring?   It allows me to honour the expectations that I had for our relationship and at the same time release and let go of the expectations I had for her part in my life.  In accepting that where she is at in her personal life experience is not conducive to a relationship between the two of us, I manage my expectations.  It is accepting that she has issues and demons to deal with in her own time.

It is acknowledging that she has expectations of me that I have failed to provide because of my own shortcomings.  It is accepting that her resentment of me stems from her unfulfilled expectations of me.  And finally it is recognizing that until she learns to let go of her expectations about me, as I have been learning to let go of my expectations of her there can be no reconciliation. 

Reconciliation requires releasing expectations about the other person, allowing them to be who they are. 

As long as there are expectations there are disappointments and as long as there are disappointments there is resentment and bitterness.  And as long as you hold on to expectations you hold on to the bitterness and the grudges fueled by unfulfilled expectations.
Finding peace requires learning to "manage" expectations rather than allowing the expectations to "manage" the relationship.

I have my intention firmly set on finding that peace and part of that peace stems from letting go of the expectations that my estranging daughter will come to the same conclusion anytime soon. She is who she is, she has her own journey to navigate and I release her from the expectation that we can or should walk life's path as mother daughter or as friends. 

Maybe we are meant to learn the lessons that only walking separate paths can teach us. I certainly know that walking alone I have learned many lessons I would not have learned otherwise.  And maybe that was my destiny.  Certainly that was never in any of my expectations!

Renate Dundys Marrello 

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  1. so true, what else can one do to gain peace but move on with life without them. I release and make the journey my own. If they ever choose to seek me out. I will be there, it not. Well I accept it and I am a whole woman at peace on the other side.

  2. Even when there is reconcilliation the path is not always easy. My daughter is pregnant and what should be a joyous time, is tense. She apparently is the only woman to give birth to a child, as I, nor anyone else, know what she is going through. She is extremely sensitive to the slightest comment, to the point where I am afraid to speak with her for fear of upsetting her! She has just entered her third trimester and although I have been pregnant twice myself, THIS is my longest pregnancy!

  3. We have been trying to move on for nearly seven years including moving 1500 miles away from them. We now have a second grandchild we've never seen who is nearly two. Time passes, wounds scab over and attempt to heal but the pain of loss remains. It never leaves you. No one deserves this in their lives.

  4. There is a song which reminds me of me in this healing process. It's called LARK ASCENDING by classical composer Ralph Vaughn Williams.