Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘expectations’

I am not a Unicorn!!

Photo Courtesy of Chilledworld.com

Photo Courtesy of Chilledworld.com

I know this might be hard to believe, but I am a human being.  As such, I find that others often expect the alternate universe Tawny who has magical powers, is a unicorn or perhaps the Tawny that flies in invisible planes and can be in more than one place at a time.

Unlike the superhero Tawny who may or may not live in an alternate universe, I am not available 24/7 ready and willing to leap a tall buildings in a single bound.

In this reality, I need time to recuperate rest and not be “on” for others 24/7.  This was true long before my chronic condition, in fact.  I have known this about myself for a long time.  It wasn’t until after my diagnosis that I began to honor it more.  I know when I can absolutely do nothing more for anyone else unless I take care of myself.

Every now and again, I wish I could be in that alternate universe.  I wish I was a unicorn, had some magical beans or a wand or something so that I could continue to help all who need it in the best possible way.  Or to simply get to hang out with people I miss terribly and don’t get to see that often anymore.

And every now and again, I have others place these superhuman expectation on me.  To help in ways I am unable, or to do just that one more thing.  Sometimes they even use guilt to push me to wave my magic wand despite having already done as much as I could.

In this universe, I do the very best I can from the time I get up until the time I go to bed.  If anyone is going to challenge that “best” then it will be me because I know more than anyone else does just how important it is for me to do as much as I can to make life just a little bit better than it was before I arrived.

Believe me when I say this, I will always be harder on myself about it than anyone’s guilt trip or anyone’s attempt to push one of my buttons.  That’s why those guilt trips and button pushing attempts are less likely to work anymore and the answer is still no.

Actually, I hardly have anyone in my inner circle who doesn’t respect the answer no because they know me well enough to know that I totally would if I could.  They know it isn’t personal.  They know that I am not a unicorn and I love them for it!

I am grateful for everything I can do and spend my time and energy figuring out ways to do even more without sacrificing my well-being in the process.

Wouldn’t it be just a little bit fun though to have a super power, have unlimited energy (not the pathological kind), to constantly be able to serve humanity without any regard for self-care, have magic wands or magic beans or fly invisible planes?

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“Should” I?

In my efforts to simplify in 2014, I have realized that until I can better figure out my limits with my illness symptoms, I have to lower my expectations and stick to my plans.

In my mind, I can still do all that I could do when I had few symptoms and a baclofen pump that caused no issues.  My mind hasn’t caught up to the last three years of events.  It is sometimes fascinating to realize that something as simple as getting up from a chair, or from the car into someone’s house is quite different from what it was.

I realized that I am placing the same expectations on myself to do things as I was before.  My body is reminding me that I am exhausted from doing the basics, so I have been more selective about how else I choose to spend my time.  I spend much of my “spare” time resting up from one thing, so that I can enjoy the next thing or do the next thing well.

While I have made choices and selecting activities that best fit, I have still felt like I “should” be at this event or “should” be able to do something more.  It isn’t a new place to be for me.  I have struggled with this since the pump drama started and the nerve pain created limitations.  The nerve pain (burning torso) is still an issue, and now I have spastic, jerking muscles to contend with as well.

My mind has to catch up to all of these physical differences.  I am not quite sure how to help it along unless I continue to simplify and adjust my expectations.  It would probably help if I stop taking on others’ expectations of me as my own too.  If I haven’t caught up to the differences, I feel certain no one else really has either.

I generally plan my week around my working schedules.  I don’t plan anything extra on working days if I can help it, and this includes my physical therapy.  If a lot of walking is going to be involved (or driving) then there are certain exercises I cannot do before hand.

I also try to limit plans to daytime or so that they end in time for me to slow down my overly active central nervous system before bedtime.  I think I have a pretty good idea of how to do this for myself.  I think I would like to do better at making sure it happens.

My idea here is that if I can stop thinking about things in terms of what I used to be able to do, or in terms of what I could be doing (or should), then I can be more comfortable where I am.  It isn’t like I don’t get to do things or see people I love to see.  I certainly do.  I would prefer to do these things without having to sacrifice physical therapy, sleep or other important self-care tasks, however.

 

 

Books and Tupperware

Score Card

After loaning out books for years and feeling sad and disappointed that I never saw them again, I stopped expecting to get books back if I chose to lend them out.  The same is true for Tupperware-like containers.

If you lend either with the expectation of them coming back to you, you are likely going to be disappointed.

After replacing the same books repeatedly, I started lending my books only if I was comfortable letting them go forever.  I love my books more than I love any of the containers in my kitchen, so I do not mind if the containers don’t come back.  I am likely to keep your container anyway, but I will always give back your books unless you tell me not to.

I have no expectation of Tupperware’s return, but it is always a nice surprise.  On my doorstep this morning was a container I really didn’t care if I saw again.  It was a nice surprise just the same to have it back.  It started me thinking about expectations in general.

I try to live my life with minimal expectations.  If I choose to do something nice for you, I have no expectation of you doing something equally as nice for me.  If I choose to help you, there is no expectation of you helping me.  It is nice if you do, but I do not sit up at night wondering why you haven’t yet.

Many of my relationships are naturally reciprocal that way, and I doubt there are score cards hanging up in a secret place in our homes.  I am sure I know people with score cards.  Those folks are probably pretty resentful of me in recent years, although no one has shared as much.

Expectations always leave someone disappointed or upset because often the other party doesn’t even know there is an expectation.  The disappointed party then becomes resentful,  that resentment festers, and eventually it comes out in some way or another.

If I have an expectation of you and am actually aware of it, I will communicate it to you.  If you have one, I hope you will do the same for me.  It is frustrating when you tell me you do not want your book back when in truth, you do.  I will keep your Tupperware (actually, I will forget I had it to start with) unless you make a point to tell me to return it to you.

I’ll bet you didn’t know Tupperware could mean all that, did you?

tupperware

It’s Raining Ridiculous

Raining Ridiculous

Ideally, the days before a surgery should probably be a peaceful, relaxing time.  It promotes faster healing to be in a calm state leading up to the day.

Last night, I was not really having that experience.  I felt like I was racing against the clock to get my house in order, get enough stocked in the house for company helping me afterwards, and various other tasks that I don’t feel like I have time to get done.  And I apparently believe I am the only one who can do them.

As I sat there grading my students’ assignments, I was distracted.  I was irritated at the new curriculum and frustrated at the increase of time it was taking me to help my students learn the materials.

Because I was distracted and frustrated, my level of irritation rose higher than it needed to because I became the victim of—get this—the new curriculum.  Are you serious?!

This is what I picked to feel like a victim—the curriculum?  Ha!  I realized it as I was staring and grumbling at a blank page that had no words.  The words that did find their way to the page reminded me that I can often be ridiculous when I am trying to avoid the real issues.

I decided that my frustration with the assignments is more about the fact that they aren’t finished yet and I am very tired.  I have a lot on my plate so I am often told lately, so maybe I can cut myself a little slack.

By the time I finished, I also let go of the expectation that everything will be in order before Thursday morning.  Actually, I decided it didn’t matter at all.  If it bothers you when you come to help or to visit, then you can take care of it!

Unpacking the Boxes

I mentioned the last time we were together that the categories, labels, expectations, beliefs and sometimes people contained within my boxes often need a fresh look as I move forward and grow.  Since the universe takes care of when we take a look, what we probably need to look at is how we do it.

When life happens and we notice that we have boxed ourselves in or boxed someone else in, we have a wonderful opportunity to unwrap it, look at what is really inside, and then make some sort of decision about it to move forward.  The choices are pretty simple:

Image from cardboard-movingboxes.com

  1. Let go of the box and all of its contents. 
  2. Keep the box and all of its contents. 
  3. Keep some of the contents of the box, but leave the box top opened rather than wrapping it back up.  
  4. Any combination of choice #3 related to letting go, keeping, adding new, etc.
  5. Choose not to look inside the box at all.

How do we make this very conscious decision?  In my own process of taking a look at the “old way” these boxes represent, I ask myself a series of questions.  I will share two of those with you along with an example to get you started on the simpler boxes.

Question #1:  Does my behavior associated with this label, category, belief, expectation, etc. move me closer to being a better person?

The first thing that interests me about the contents of a box is what it “says” about me as a human being.  This is very important to me because I aspire to be Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I want to operate consciously and mindfully to grow in every area of my life.

Let’s use one of my past experiences as an example.  The first four years in my illness (PLS), I was in a wheelchair and very sensitive about it.  Related to this sensitivity, I had at least a couple of boxes.

Within one blaringly obvious box was a series of beliefs that I didn’t realize I held based on my limited experiences.  One of them was that people in wheelchairs are unable to function independently.  (It is hard to believe, isn’t it?)

With that unconscious belief boxed away, I set off to prove that I could do everything.  I was very resistant to any assistance—even just a person opening a door for me—and could even be caught being snippy about it. 

What I was thinking was, “Geez, do they think I am helpless or something?!  I can do it myself!”

Can you see how my belief became projected outward as if it was also everyone else’s?  Even strangers opening doors for me?  My perception was that they all looked at me as some helpless woman in a chair because apparently, that is how I felt about myself during that time.

Was my snippy behavior helping me to “be the change”?  Seems pretty obvious that the answer was no to question #1.  I decided I did not want to be someone else’s limited experience that created a box that says people in wheelchairs are pissy and ungrateful!

This leads me to Question #2:  What did I get out of holding onto this boxed up belief? 

Was this snippy, resistant behavior serving me?  Well, let’s look.

On the positive side, resisting help meant that I had to figure out how to do just about everything on my own from my new, seated position.  I had to use a lot of creativity and ingenuity to do this on my own.

On the down side, I was resisting help at a time when every ounce of energy could have been better spent functioning day to day.  A little bit of help now and again could have helped.

Only two questions and now I was being directed to yet another box.  The other box contained the long-held belief that being needy and vulnerable is bad.  This one was a doozy.

Now, I have two boxes unwrapped and out of necessity, I had to make a choice about at least one of them.  I asked my two big questions and the answers were pretty clear to the first box. 

I chose to let go of the box that contained my belief about people in wheelchairs.  I had disproven it in real life and had met countless others who were doing just fine on their own.  I chose not to look at the other box very closely at that time in my life, but I left it open.

The next time we get together, however, I want to get to that because the longer we’ve had a box, the harder it is to sort through and decide what to do with it.

 

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