Those Blankety Blank Expectations – They Got Me Again!

stop the expectation buttonMy best friend just returned from almost a month in a foreign land. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed her – probably almost as much as her partner has.

I’ve known that she would be returning about now – she deliberately didn’t give anyone except her partner and exact date and I honored that.

Sure enough she called the other day and we tentatively agreed to meet later that afternoon.

Right around noon she called again to tell me she was fading and was headed home for a nap.  I think I was polite enough, at least until I managed to hang up the phone. But you’d think I’d never had a serene moment in my life, given the language I used as soon as the phone turned off.

Oh wasn’t about to go buy a bottle of scotch or stop in at a nearby bar. Nor was I going to go steal the almost whole cigarette butt my neighbor had in an ashtray not far from where we do laundry (but I did notice I noticed it, twice).

Because I’ve been practicing the Program for a long time, and because I meditate regularly, I recognized my reaction was insane. Really nuts. Way beyond disappointed and close to a moment of red rage.

In other words, I had a large button pushed over an expectation which was, internally, a thinly disguised demand – a demand that my friend be available to me on my schedule. If I’d been 8-years-old I would have had a temper tantrum.

So I sat right where I was – at the computer, but looking out my window, consciously took several deep breaths, and watched my breath coming in and going out, coming in, and going out.

That always helps start restoring me to sanity. It’s a technique I learned as a result of our 11th Step. As my insane anger dissipated it occurred to me to ask what I should do.

The answer came back with the suggestion to write about it. I often get this instruction as it were, I guess because writing is what I do.

And so here I am, writing about it.

The tricky part of expectations is I often don’t notice I’m in them until they aren’t met. In this case I knew I was looking forward to seeing her again, but I hadn’t realized I’d moved from pleasant anticipation to what amounted to a demand, even if she doesn’t and (probably) won’t know about it.

I doubt I’ll ever stop being human. There will be times when I overreact or get trapped by my own stinking thinking in one way or another.

Which is one of the reasons I find the 12 Step Programs so valuable. They don’t demand I be perfect. In fact they urge is to recognize its about “… progress, not perfection.” The 10th Step gives me a way to deal with my human mistakes.

As I came down I realized I could be grateful she’s home and glad I didn’t snap at her.

We did get together the following day and it was delightful.

Once again, I’m truly grateful for the Program.

How do you handle expectations?

Love, blessings and abundance,

Anne W. Powerfully Recovered


reenie May 3, 2012 at 1:54 am

Just about the same way. And I also go to the BB and read Doctor Addict Alcoolic and what he says about lowering our expetatons and our serenity rises.

That little paragraph about acceptance in the same story, has saved me time and time again. It is alway me that has the problem when I can not accept a person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly as it is at the time.

annew May 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

Yes, right on, thanks for reminding us.

Randy May 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Anne

I had a fellowship member tell me long ago .. no expectations no resentments .
Allowing the moment to be as it is with out expectations leaves me be to be in the now. As your awareness was present in not snapping at your friend so was your higher power in that thought .. Peace love and understanding with compassion of others and ourselves helps make us… happy joyous and free
Appreciate your blog and sharing your thoughts

Catherine June 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm

To me, it sounds like your reaction was totally normal and human. I felt really sad when I saw you refer to it as “stinking thinking,” “insane,” or comparing yourself to an eight year old having a tantrum. I mean…it’s tough when people who are important to us are gone for a long time, and it’s only natural to be really upset if they don’t want to see us right away when they come back. I guess I wished to see you have more compassion for yourself. I don’t know, does that make any sense to you? Or maybe I am just too new to the program to have the right perspective on this, I don’t know…
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annew October 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thanks for the vote of confidence Catherine… but internally I knew I was way out of line this time… because I was way more upset than just disappointment… and I do have some compassion for myself 😉 but I appreciate the reminder! Seems like we’re always hardest or almost always hardest on ourselves sometimes.

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