Recovery Bytes

Expectations by Ashley N.

FINGERS CROSSEDWhen I got clean, I had a lot of expectations, many of which were not realistic.  Now, after being clean for a while, I have learned a lot about expectations of others and myself.

I expected that I was going into treatment and they had some kind of fairy dust or something to sprinkle on me and I would be cured.  That didn’t happen.  I expected that I would still be able to drink because drinking wasn’t really my “thing.”  I learned after one day in treatment that for me, as an addict, alcohol was a drug.  Geez!  After one day, this treatment center was really letting me down!

I expected that when my mom came to visit me in treatment, she would coddle me, as she always had, and tell me that everything was okay.  She didn’t do that.  She supported me, but she was stern when she said that I had to stay clean or I could not come home and live with her.  Geez, Mom, you too?

When I got out of treatment and started going to NA meetings in my hometown, I needed to get a sponsor.  So I did.  I expected that she would ALWAYS answer the phone when I called because didn’t she know how important I was?  She did not always answer the phone because she had this annoying thing called a job and she couldn’t always answer the phone.  The nerve of some people!

After reading this far, I am sure you are thinking, “This chick is a brat.”  Its okay, I am thinking that too.

I could write you a very long list of the expectations that I had for the program, God, my boyfriend, my family, my friends, my employer, my dog and the world, and you would for sure then think I was a brat, but I will spare you the gory details.

The point I want to make is that we all have expectations.  I bet it is safe to say that when we wake up in the morning, we all expect that we will be breathing.  When we get in our car to drive to work, again I am sure we all expect that our car will start. When we get our lunch out of the breakroom refrigerator, we expect that the microwave will heat up our food. These are realistic expectations, for the most part.

The expectations that are really tough to deal with are the ones that I don’t even really think about.  These expectations are pretty much formed from past experience, like going out to eat every Friday night at my favorite restaurant.  I EXPECT that next Friday when I pull into the parking lot, I will be able to go in and get a seat, BUT sometimes the restaurant goes out of business.  OR, expecting that the friends I make in recovery will stay clean and live a long and prosperous life. The harsh reality is that that is not always the case.  When I first got clean, I went to dinner with my husband and three others guys that I went to treatment with.  They are all dead now because they EXPECTED that just one hit would be okay.  ALSO, when my dog was 3 years old, I had this expectation that I could leave her out while I was at work and she wouldn’t chew up anything because she never had.  I came home one day and she had eaten 5 TV and radio remotes.  AND, when I got married, I expected that nothing was going to change because I had been dating my husband for 8 years.  Boy, was I wrong.  You know what changed the most?  Me.

I can’t tell you that after being clean for 8 years and having a thousand experiences with expectations and being let down, that I have finally learned my lesson and I never have expectations.  But what I can tell you is that I know my expectations, at times, can be very high.  Hell, I can’t even meet my own expectations 100% of the time.  I have learned that people, including myself, are fallible and they will let you down, but I have also learned that that is okay.

Is there a solution to completely being rid of expectations?  Who knows.  What I do know is that the longer I stay clean, the more experience I get to have and the more experience I have to share with the newcomer. When that newcomer shares in a meeting, sometimes I think, “Geez, what a brat” (yes, I do that) and I feel like a jerk; so I immediately take myself back to those first few days, weeks and months that I was clean and I think about sounding exactly like that newcomer.  They, like me, were probably have a lot of expectations.

Thank God for awareness.  Thank God for my experience.  And Thank God for my recovery.