This post is part of Reverb10, a project that provides daily prompts in the month of December to help you reflect on the past year and set your intentions for the year ahead.
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
This year I let go of my expectations for a friendship that’s played a big role in my life for a looong time. This friend – let’s call her Viv – had been hurting my feelings pretty consistently for the past several years, and I finally hit a point where I stopped expecting the loving, supportive relationship we had before things got bad.
It wasn’t easy. My husband, Jordan, gave me the wake-up call I needed. He had been in a similar situation with a close friend a few years back, and he reminded me that I was the one who nudged him to let go; now it was time to take my own advice. (Amazing how hard that can be, isn’t it?)
The funny thing is that almost as soon as I stopped expecting anything from Viv, she started showing me she loved me. We’ve managed to work out a new footing, an arrangement that seems to be working for both of us, where it’s clear we care about each other – we just don’t act like things are like they used to be, because they aren’t.
This letting go of expectations is something I’d like to be able to apply to other areas of my life. It’s a tall order, because my expectations are epic – both for myself and others. (I think that link must always exist: if we ask a lot of ourselves, it follows that we’d ask a lot of other people, out of some innate sense of justice. “I’m giving everything I’ve got and you should, too.”)
I’ve always been this way – I think it’s in my genes (I’m pretty sure my mom would agree). I remember when I got my first lesson in letting go. It was April of 1994, and Jordan and I were teenagers falling in love (awww). We were sitting on the stage in the student theater at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, on a break during the rehearsal of the spring show (Guys & Dolls). I was feeling low about a friendship that was falling apart, and I said, “I just think maybe you can’t ever really know another person.” After all, I thought I knew my friend, and now his hurtful behavior made him seem like a stranger to me. And Jordan said, after a few minutes, “I don’t think that’s true. I just think that maybe, sometimes, we can’t keep up with the changes in other people.”
Wow. Yep. Pretty much on the nose.
These days, I’m realizing that Jordan’s insight applies beyond our relationships, to our efforts at “keeping up” in general: Keeping up with our daily schedule, with other people’s expectations of us, with our expectations of ourselves… it’s a tall order, and we often fail. In fact, we probably fail more than we succeed. But that doesn’t mean happiness is impossible. It means that life (relationships included) is fluid. And happiness, I’m learning, is finding your flow.
That’s why I’m loving Reverb10 – it’s helping me flow gracefully and mindfully into the new year… a year for which I’m forming intentions, but for which I currently have no expectations.