There are those people that you consider very good friends and if you’re like me you take that seriously. You care enough to call on a regular basis just to check in, say “hey how are you?”. If you’re a little busy you may text or email but you always try to keep in touch with those people on a very regular basis.
When my dad came to live with me my schedule became pretty packed. I was still working my business full time plus taking on other duties. I was doing huge amount of laundry, cooking meals for Dad (anything that my dad would eat) and then making myself something to eat as well. His cats became part of my household and I joked (and still do) that my life had become about cat pee, poop, and vomit. My grocery shopping became an ordeal. I had his appointments to attend. Plus since he no longer drove I often spent my weekends playing chauffeur. Dad needed more assistance in general, although he sure did give it a strong showing at independence.
My point is that with those few people I considered my very best friends, I found the time to still call and say “hey”. I admit I slipped a little. I’d not call as often as I had but I always made an effort for those few that I hold dear.
What I noticed however was that when I wasn’t calling (emailing or texting), some didn’t pick up the slack and contact me to find out how I was doing.
Then dad died and honestly between trying to get my business back on track and dealing with his estate , not to mention my grief at his passing, I slipped even a little more. I considered it a great dereliction of my duty as friend but it couldn’t be helped. For some people I admit I totally disappeared and I am sorry.
I most certainly noticed those friends that really stepped up to the plate. But some became even more distant.
Recently I called one of these people and apologized for being neglectful of our friendship. I made a point of saying that *I* was neglectful and that if we were good friends we needed to stay in touch. The person totally agreed with me. I was hoping that would kick-start our back and forth of calling each other just to say “hey”. But it hasn’t. If I don’t keep in touch, neither does that person.
It’s been eye opening.
I wrote another blog post recently, unpublished, called “Expectations”. The timing wasn’t right to put it out there, but the thoughts of that post meld perfectly into this one. (Timing is everything. Frankly, the timing for this one still isn’t good but I’m going to push it out there regardless.)
Alexander Pope, an 18th century poet, said “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
Yet, I am often disappointed. Horribly, heart-wrenchingly, disappointed.
I realize that my expectations of others are high. It should be noted that my expectations of myself are exceptionally high, and yes, I disappoint myself as well. As someone recently reminded me (as she has often over the years) “I regret to inform you that you are only human, however inconvenient that is for you”. A tough lesson for me for certain; one I’ve been working on my entire life. (Ask my mom about my adventures in learning to ride a bicycle next time you see her and you’ll understand.)
But yet, I think about this word “expectation” and the “experts” who say that if you are disappointed in your expectations of others, look to yourself, not them. Is it true that we should have no expectations of others?
Should we, don’t we, have an expectation that a parent will take care of his or her child? Is an employer being reasonable to have expectations of an employee? Does how a person reacts to your needs really say more about you, or does it, in fact, say more about how they relate to you? Respect you? I’m inclined to think the latter.
Is it wrong-minded to have some modicum of expectation then? No, I don’t think it is. Those that disappear and become scarce during the bad times, maybe they can’t deal with it. That’s okay; they are entitled to their own emotions and way of dealing with those life events and people that are challenging or life-changing. Does that shatter my expectation of them? Yeah it does. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t also hurt like hell. But maybe it should. Maybe it means that if to everything there is a season, winter has come.
So during the Days of Awe (from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur), I started the work of forgiving those that couldn’t match the expectation I have for them. But I also started the work of realizing that I will need to let go of those people and then move on so I can focus my attention to those that truly, really, love me and care about me, respect me, and can meet the expectation that if I show a person my love, attention and respect, the person will return it. I honestly think that is a reasonable expectation.
It is a hard time though. I have thus far “failed” at the forgiveness and moving on. I’d say I’ve done a total face-plant. And yes, it hurts.