The definition of expectation from Webster-Miriam:
2a: something expected not up to expectations expectations for an economic recoveryb: basis for expecting : ASSURANCE they have every expectation of successc: prospects of inheritance —usually used in plural
I’m writing early today since I know I won’t be able to later on, and this is what I woke up thinking about… Expectations. We all have them, we all want to have them met, or even exceeded, and we all have them crushed. Over the past year I’ve learned how to not build expectations of anyone but myself. Expectations are like throwing the door to your heart open and saying to those that will “come on in and stomp on my heart.” Just don’t do it. It’s extremely hard to not do, but it is possible.
None of us like to be let down and if we’re decent people, we don’t like letting others down. We work hard to fulfill the duties of our job, we are expected to take care of our families and we have inherent expectations that come with the territory of just being alive. We expect to wake up after a night’s sleep, we expect to have food in our bellies at some point each day and we expect to be treated with love and kindness by those closest to us. This last expectation I’ve spoken about is where many of us end up with our expectations crushed and our hearts shattered, time after time after time. When you add the stress and unreasonable behaviors that estrangement and alienation bring, it’s just like tossing a match onto a gas soaked pile of debris. BOOM! You wake up one day, whole and emotionally intact, only to be set on fire by someone else’s cruelty and words.
My husband and I expected to be a part of the lives of both of our children for the rest of ours, and now we know that’s not going to happen. An expectation we never thought about, we just assumed (and we all know what’s said about that) that we would have our family, all of it, around us as we grew older. It’s just not meant to be that way any longer and we are navigating our way through the loss and grief as best we can. Someone told me late last year to try and remember this “you can’t reason with the unreasonable” and he was and is so right. Most of the parents I’ve spoken with that have been tossed out with the garbage say the same thing. Our adult children are adults, we can’t continue to try and get them to change their minds, or hearts just because we miss them. They have made a decision to hurt us, and while they are the ones that made the decision to estrange and alienate us, we all deal with the consequences. All of us. We have learned that the entire family has been hurt, and much of that hurts comes from expectations that our family would always just be. We have a very large and extended family on my husband’s side and each and every person in that family hurts for the losses that we have experienced. My family is much smaller, but no less hurt by the estrangement.
When you start to let go of expectations, you begin to find healing, My husband and I had expectations of how our holiday season would be last year and when those expectations were crushed, that’s when we learned to stop living for what might be and live for what is. The heartbreak of the holiday season we experienced was a soul crushing event for me, and I learned how trust and expectations are very much intertwined. I also learned that I expected too much for a very long time and I had to find a way to let go of the anger and hurt that accompanied the let down. It seems the hardest things we go through in life have many hidden lessons of great value, we just have to be open to the pain of learning what those lessons are. We have to let go of the expectations that we have when it comes to others and first depend on ourselves. One of the hardest things we’ve had to deal with was the absence of an apology for the let down that was not our fault. This past holiday season was our first without all of our family, and we made it through. Not without pain and anguish, but we did make it and we will continue to do so. We have let the expectations of engaging with our oldest daughter and her family go, we have to. The weight that the pain brings because of being let down is just too heavy to bear. Lesson learned…
What do your expectations look like? Has your trust been shattered by someone else’s actions? Do you find yourself wary of others when before you were open to them? Letting go of expectations takes a tremendous amount of work and can be done, you just need to be patient with yourself and speak life through your inner dialogue. I’m 100% sure that if my oldest daughter were to speak to us, she’s tell us just how much we let her down. How we didn’t meet her expectations as her parents. How we were the most terrible parents ever to walk on this earth. We beg to differ, and in no way claim to be perfect parents, but we loved her and wanted her and were so happy to be her parents. Our life wasn’t all bad, nor all good, and we did the best we could with what we had. I find that I’m not sorry for things of which I’ve been accused of, and didn’t do. I also find that I am sorry for her pain and her throwing away people that loved her and wanted to help her as much as possible. Life isn’t easy, and the fact remains that we are her parents, even if her expectation is that we just go away and forget she exists. That will never happen. Not ever.
The journey we are on as estranged parents and alienated grandparents is a journey we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies, but we will walk it out with as much grace and dignity as we can find. We have no expectations of reunification, we have no expectations of future family moments that our estranged daughter will be a part of and we have no expectations of being able to see our grandchildren. What do we have? We have faith in each other as husband and wife. We have a loving, strong relationship with our youngest daughter and her family. We have a loving and supportive extended family that supports us. We have friends that walk beside us, and sometimes behind us so they can catch us when we fall. We have a place to lay our head down at night that keeps us dry. We have jobs that we appreciate. We have smiles and laughter and tears and joy. We don’t invite the sadness that the loss of our daughter brings, but we do invite the lessons we learn from the sadness.