By Mary Cucarola – 10/10/19
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~Joseph Campbell
Recently, I hung up the phone with someone I am close to, feeling disappointed and a bit angry. Things didn’t go as I thought they would, and I could feel myself returning to some old habits. The old familiar feeling of not getting my expectations met and feeling uncomfortable about it.
Although the tragedy that brought me to my knees is past, I find there is always something valuable to remember. The past often reveals important insight into the present. Apparently, my unhealthy expectations can still get me into trouble, popping up like weeds, in a perfectly manicured lawn, leaving me frustrated even though I know I can’t ultimately control outcomes.
I think expectations are different from my hopes and desires – they are strong beliefs that something will or should happen a certain way. My mind is still often filled with expectations, and I can easily be disappointed if I don’t let go of them. I think I know how a particular person will or should act and something else occurs, and it shatters my assumption. I feel deflated that it didn’t happen the way I envisioned it would and resentful.
In remembering the past, I often put unrealistic expectations on my son, which caused him to feel pressured to succeed. When he didn’t succeed, he felt like a failure. I remember him telling me he didn’t have anything to be proud of about himself – that it wasn’t easy being him. At the time, I thought he was broken, and I needed to fix him. I was afraid to let him be who he was and let events happen naturally.
That was before I understood his addiction and before I understood my codependency.
I’ve learned having normal expectations of someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol is like going to the hardware store to buy bread. It’s not going to happen. Constantly asking him what was wrong and telling him to straighten up were futile. While Cody could not meet my expectations, it was my expectations, not him, that had let me down. I had to learn to let go of them if I wanted to find any sense of inner peace and be of any help to him.
My most stubborn character flaws like to test me every once in a while, inching their way into my thoughts, making me worry and obsess about people and things I have no control over. Bringing back the focus to myself is still challenging for me. I like to focus on others first. It’s ingrained in my being, but I know what I have to do. I need to let go, be realistic, and mindful of the present.
Let Go, Let God, as they say.
Sometimes, I admire people for their selfishness, wishing I could be more like them. I believe there is a proper kind of selfishness, which doesn’t include expecting another person to make me happy by doing what I want. I shouldn’t make my happiness or my state of mind dependent on another person – that is called attachment.
Codependents, thrive on attachment. The surest way to become crazy is to get involved in another person’s business and the quickest way to become sane is to tend to my own affairs.
I have a primary responsibility to myself; to make myself into the best person I can be. I recognize others have the right to live their own lives the way they want, and I have no right to interfere with or judge their choices, unless they are a danger to themselves or others.
Peace comes as a result of accepting life as it is, rather than how I think it should be. Letting go of expectations is always a turning point for change.
Mary Cucarola – 10/10/19