No, this isn’t some diatribe on the thoughts, emotions, and studies of the changing female form associated with becoming a new mother, but rather how our expectations prepare us for disappointment. An anecdote:
Once upon a time, I was in a relationship. An amazing relationship, filled with passion and respect and friendship. The feelings I had for him I had never before experienced—I saw my future with him: Married, with children. I know a lot of girls out there get carried away with these types of fantasies, dreaming about their wedding day from the age of 7, deciding on names for the 3 kids they would one day have years before puberty would strike. I was not one of these girls. Never had I ever dreamt about getting married. Never had I ever wanted kids. Until him. And I was convinced I wasn’t dreaming when these visions came to me, that I was merely seeing what would unfold with him in time. In him, I thought I had found my lobster.
Alas, that relationship didn’t work out. Things got rough, but in my romanticized fantasy, our bond was too strong to let anything tear us apart. But fantasies aren’t real. Not that they are bad to have, not that we should avoid them. But they enable expectations. And when things don’t go the way we want, it’s because we had expectations that it hurts even more because we let ourselves get carried away into a future that hasn’t happened, a place we won’t arrive at the way we thought we would. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY anyone can live up to our expectations in the exact way we envision or plan them. We can’t know what or exactly HOW something will happen because everything is constantly changing. I expected him to act a certain way, expected him to do things differently, expected the universe to let me have my way, and when things didn’t turn out as I had hoped they would, well, it hurt. A lot.
It’s expectation that causes so much pain and suffering. We have to surrender our expectations. EXPECT NOTHING. Then there is no way to be disappointed about the outcome of a situation. We can’t know how our stories will unfold, but therein lies the EXCITEMENT of life. Everything is a SURPRISE. And isn’t that more beautiful than trying to live life by some plan, some syllabus, a blueprint? Of course, there will be good surprises and bad surprises, but that is part of what makes up life. You can’t have the good without the bad.
There is no instruction manual for life. We all just make it up as we go along because everyone’s life is different. We all take different paths. Paths that have no road maps. It is in this light that I can appreciate what that relationship awakened in me: the realization that I do, in fact, want a partner and a family. I can’t know how or if it will come to me, but I can make the effort to be present in each and every moment and accept what is and, with gratitude, appreciate all of my experiences—which may or may not lead me to a husband and 2.5 children. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but, though that relationship caused me great pain, it also brought me a lot of happiness. And I’ll always be able to look back on all the amazing moments we had, which still have the power to make me smile.