Each week, I attend a support group meeting. We read a passage from a book and then discuss its relevance in our lives. Is it true or not? Are we affected by this? How? Last week’s meeting has stuck with me, as many do. But this time, it’s not because it was a positive experience. I’d like your take on it…
The reading last week is my least favorite one in the book. At least so far, and I’ve read most of the book. I’m not going to reproduce the entire reading here, but I will give you the relevant bits, starting with this:
“A friend says, ‘An expectation is a premeditated resentment.’ I take this statement to suggest that when I have a resentment I can look to my expectations for a probable source.”
I had a real problem with this, and I voiced it… By this passage (and the rest of the reading backed it up), I am to assume responsibility for resenting when others screw up. For example, I seriously resented it recently when, two days before our Pack’s Popcorn Kickoff, the entire project was unceremoniously dumped in my lap. I knew that nobody else was going to step up to take responsibility, even though the Chairman of the project had an “Assistant” that she completely bypassed when giving the materials to me. I resented the fact that the Chairman didn’t follow through on her promises. I resented the fact that the Assistant didn’t step up when she heard what happened, and say, “Oh, I’m the Assistant, I’ll take over,” but instead, let me handle the whole mess.
But when I read this passage, I understood that my resentments were misplaced; that my expectations were too high. And I’m sorry, but I cannot reconcile that.
I understand that we bear the responsibility of understanding when our expectations are too high. I do not resent the fact that I must drive Steve everywhere (yeah, I get pissy because it’s inconvenient) because I cannot expect him to drive himself, since he’s blind. THAT would be an unrealistic expectation. But is it unrealistic to be resentful when he says, “I’ll take out the garbage tonight,” and I find myself trudging down the driveway at 11PM, dragging a smelly can behind me, while he’s upstairs sawing logs? According to this passage, yes, it is unrealistic. My expectations were too high.
When I brought this up to the group, they agreed with the passage. “We’re dealing with recovering addicts,” they said. In essence, we know that they are unreliable, so if we have expectations that are not realized, we should not be surprised, and therefore, not be resentful.
The example from the reading told the story of a person who resented that every time she made plans to meet her brother at a certain time, he would be late. And she resented him for it. But when they attached no specific time to their plans, everything was fine, and she wasn’t resentful. Moral of the story – don’t include time in your plans with Brother, and everything will be ok. That means no movies. No dinner dates with reservations. No events of any kind that involve a start time. No projects that involve starting at a particular time. How can anyone function that way? And I’m a pretty laid-back type, who is as likely to say “oh, somewhere between 9 and 10” as “we need to be there by 10”.
So I’m supposed to completely lower my expectations to practically nil, because if I have expectations that others don’t live up to, it’s my fault??? What do you think? Am I wrong to be applying this the way I am? Are my expectations too high?