The Trouble with Great Expectations…

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” 
~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations ~

 

I am a firm believer in “no regrets”.  Each moment of my life has led me to the very point on which I stand today.  If I were to say I regret any moment in my past, no matter how ugly (and believe me, the divorce wasn’t pretty), I believe there would be a significant difference in how my life is now.  For example, had I listened to that gut feeling on my wedding day, instead of deciding it was simply wedding day nerves, I wouldn’t have my three beautiful girls.  That’s something I would never want to change!

I believe we can learn from each day we experience; the good and the bad.  And what we learn from those experiences helps mold the days ahead of us; the good and the bad.

I had a complicated day earlier this week.  A conversation with a longtime friend revealed some shortcomings on my part in our friendship.  Long story short, I messed up.  I let her down.  I wasn’t there for her when she needed me, and I didn’t give her the support she needed.

Needless to say, I felt awful.  I still feel awful.  I’ve had so many days where I’ve felt alone in this world, and so I work hard to be a good friend.  To be there for people I care about.  I don’t want others to feel what I have felt if I can prevent it.

As I thought through the situation with my friend, however, I also realized when she was going through her difficult time, I was dealing with a lot in my own world as well.  A kiddo recovering from surgery, a strained family relationship, and some very confused emotions in regards to an intimate relationship not working out the way I’d hoped it would because of issues on my part.

With all of this going on, I failed to meet the expectations my friend had of me when she was struggling and hurting.  She needed me, and of course she expected me to be there for her.  I should have been there for her.  I needed to be there for her.  I desperately wanted to be there.  And yet, I failed.  My own problems prevented me from being the friend I needed and wanted to be.  

Interestingly enough, as I agonized over what I had done, and tried to sort out what I could have done differently, I also learned a valuable lesson:  So many hurt and damaged feelings in relationships stem from unmet expectations…Great Expectations…

expectation

Now, you may be thinking, “But, Heather, it’s normal to have expectations in a relationship!  You can’t seriously be saying I shouldn’t expect to be loved, expect to be respected, expect to be ~insert expectations here~”

You’re absolutely right!  It’s completely normal to have expectations!  You should be able to expect X,Y, and all of the Z’s!

What I learned is many times when my feelings have been hurt, it’s because I felt let down by someone I considered to be the one person I could count on to be by my side through thick and thin.  Yet, I never stopped to consider what they might be dealing with on their side of things.  I never really let the idea of them having their own struggles affect my disappointment.

Please hear me:  I am not saying it is okay for people to let us down and hurt our feelings.  I’m definitely not okay knowing my friend is hurting because I failed to see her need.

I think, though, it will help me down the road to stop and consider the possibility that someone who let me down might be going through their own battle at the same time I’m facing mine.  I also think it will help me keep in mind that people are counting on me and have expectations of me; and if those are realistic, healthy expectations, I should do my best to be a good friend and meet those expectations.

I truly despise the fact that I let a friend down; she’s angry and hurt because of me.  I’m determined do my best to make things right and be a better friend in days to come. 

That being said, I am also thankful for the insight I gained through this experience, and I won’t regret having to endure it.  Learning to be mindful of my expectations of others will not only help them to feel some grace, but it will help me not to feel as discouraged or let down in the process.

be kind

3 thoughts on “The Trouble with Great Expectations…

  1. This is a great example of the need for empathy and context in all our dealings. I hope you don’t mind me saying. You showed empathy for her with healthy self-compassion for yourself. Not everyone sees the lesson life is presenting us. You can’t control how someone else will see things, but you can control how you do, and how you respond. You sound like a good friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Healthy reflection on yourself takes guts, humility, love, and maturity. There is so much defensive talk and excuses made for all kinds of behavior today. With just blame being assigned. This was a nice discussion about the genuine struggle of wanting to do the right thing but making the wrong decision, and learning how to learn from the consequences of being confronted with the aftermath. It’s easier and a more gentle process to see our own internal revelations. Others words of pain and disappointment can cut deep and prick our pride. Good personal work on yourself. I hope you and your friend can find continued healing between yourselves and as individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

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