Note To Self

The thing I want to address today is what the fuck is with expectations? Yours, mine, theirs. Are people aware that their reality is not my reality? I’m fully aware that my reality isn’t yours. Furthermore your emergency is not my emergency and vice versa. When the bottom falls out of my current reality, when my expectations are proven to be bullshit, I stop. I sit in it, and I reevaluate my options as well as my plan of action. I don’t feel it necessary to justify any adjustments as I put them into motion. I have no problem communicating to those who will be effected by my alterations exactly what they can expect. Outside of alerting those individuals, my choices are simply that. They’re mine. Due to the fact that I contemplate in a thorough manner precisely what it is I need to do in response to unexpected events, I have a great deal of confidence regarding my newly formed perspective. I may look to one or two friends for loose advice but I don’t need anyone to like or approve of my final decision. I need to feel comfortable with what I do. Everyone else can take care of their own feelings. I wonder from time to time what the world would be like if we could all engage in a healthy level of expectation or even dependency. It will never happen, of course, nevertheless I do enjoy the moment when my imagination can offer me a snapshot of the possibilities.

I realize that my extreme level of independence is not very conducive to forming or maintaining intimate relationships be they romantic or platonic. That being said I have enjoyed several relationships in my lifetime that have lasted for more than 40 years and a few that have developed within recent years. Some with family members, most with friends. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to find a few people along the way that are capable of letting me be me while I support them being them. And as I get older the whole dance becomes easier and smoother for all involved. It’s all about expectations and the ability to readjust them. Staying fluid with myself as well as others affords me the space that I need to move around inside these relationships with reasonable comfort. Once in a great while I bump into an obstacle set up by another when they need more from me than I can deliver. With adequate articulation we usually move beyond it. And then there are the occasions when we simply have to part ways, maybe for a period of time, maybe for good. Either way, if I feel I’ve been true to myself I’m quite satisfied with whatever the result. I’ve thought it through, I’ve been brutally honest with myself, I’ve exercised objectivity so it all seems logical to me. I can certainly live with that.

In the last year I have experienced some huge changes. One being the diagnosis of my father’s dementia. Now let me describe for you how this ties in with expectations both coming and going. As a child I was mesmerized by my father’s ability to make any crisis into a comedy. Funerals, kids in trouble at school, loss of employment and the like. He didn’t ignore the importance of these events, he simply didn’t allow them to encompass his every thought or decision. His coping mechanisms were often sarcasm, irreverence and full-on ball breaking. My father is a little man, a very gentle man, and he is also an intelligent person who had a way of observing life exactly the way it presented itself to him. If pushed or threatened in some way he didn’t hesitate to take action. Due to his truly admirable social skills he could often times turn an enemy into a friend in a matter of minutes. Not by acquiescing to be sure. Just by making fucking sense. He taught me to play chess at a very young age and while we would plan our annihilation of each other he would drop philosophical gems on me that I still refer to today. His perspective and observations have proven to be timeless. He has been, for better or worse, the greatest father a girl like me could have (yes, I’m well aware of my bias). His encouragement of my natural use of logic while leaving emotion for the most appropriate of occasions from an early age has made my self-concept a much healthier one than it would have been had anyone else been guiding me. Of this I feel quite sure. After many years of taking this relationship with my father for granted, and I mean that in the best possible way, I now have to adjust my expectations. He is no longer completely there. He often times can’t access his own vast vocabulary. Due to his condition, my father has no control over sadness or happiness. Both come on way more intensely than he had experienced throughout his life. Watching my father sob uncontrollably over something that in the past would have simply caused him to well up a bit is a heartbreaking reality and calls for a new level of expectation from me. My father is alive and I’m happy about that. I just can’t expect to see my Dad as the man he was, the man who raised me to be independent, the man who constantly told me that I was fine exactly as I am. There is no renegotiating with him how our relationship will now be. I needed to allow for him to drop his end of it and I wanted to accomplish this with as much grace as I could gather. This in itself adds another adjustment to my expectations of myself. Now I had to be above the situation. I had to make this new coping mechanism work for both of us. I had to go way outside of my usual comfort zone and create a new perspective that would offer each of us the satisfaction and security we deserve. For the most part this is working very well. We enjoy our time together and I experience no resistance within myself when those moments come where I am in a position to comfort him through a crying jag. Of course I’m still fluid with him as I never know from one visit to the next how he will present himself. Sometimes I feel as though I’m lost in some weird space and other times I am grateful to offer him anything I can. Not only as a return on what he has given me over the years, also as a way to show up for another human being who gave his reality all that he possibly could. He wasn’t and isn’t perfect and neither am I. In that way, we still make a great pair.

I guess what I’m getting at is be aware of reality. Your reality isn’t shared by anyone outside of yourself. There may be many things we have in common but none of us see the world or life in exactly the same way. Be willing to change and grow as the things around you change and grow. Be okay with knowing that you are in this alone. Then when those moments come along where you and another are meeting in a space where everything seems lined up between you rather perfectly, you’ll be able to let that moment be the beautiful, temporary, and rare experience that it is. Then you can move beyond that moment and take some of the beauty with you when you go.

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4 Comments

Filed under Atheism

4 responses to “Note To Self

  1. David Riddle

    Another terrific post, Jen. Thank you. Missing having you in my life on a daily basis but all is good here in my own reality! x

  2. You are so your father’s daughter Jen, and if he can be he must be proud of your robust independence and willingness to accept life as it washes up on our different shores.

    Expectations are bound to be frustrated; when we try to recapture golden moments with a repeat fixture we wonder where the magic went, because life has moved on and like it or not so must we. But there is a constancy in this change and it is that reality is always in the here and now and by the degree that we can accept the moment for what it is, is the degree that we may access our own happiness.

    And there is a peace in this acceptance of the way things are which cannot be found in the failure to be the way we might wish them to be. To be truly awake to the moment is the only intelligent attitude to life, because an expectation can only stifle its potential and imprison us in frustration. You are a natural non-dualist, which is only underlined by your willingness to be true to yourself (and thereby be the fucking Boss of yourself).

    Great post – as always. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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