Written March 1, 2017
My apologies for the delay. I’ve been in the process of moving and not writing much.
“One of the biggest stumbling blocks … seems to be placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves or others. Relationships can be a terribly painful area. We tend to fantasize and project what will happen. We get angry and resentful if our fantasies are not fulfilled. We forget that we are powerless over other people…thoughts and feelings of loneliness, despair, helplessness and self-pity creep in… We have to keep …our priorities in order.” ~Anonymous
There may be a couple of you reading this who are familiar with the above excerpt and noticed I left out a few key words. I did this for a reason. As an addict in a program of recovery, I have come across many things that apply to people who are not addicts. This one is especially true. Allow me to explain.
Can you recall any time in your life when you expected a certain outcome to a situation you were going thru? Maybe you expected a person to act a certain way? Or perhaps you had plans with someone to do something you really wanted to do and that person canceled? How did you feel? Angry, hurt, betrayed even? What did you do? Stomp around the house, punch a wall, lash out at the person who hurt you, break something(s), used every foul word in the dictionary, perhaps even cried?
These are normal reactions when situations don’t go our way or people disappoint us. Addicts, however, tend to get high to escape and cover up their feelings when stuff like this happen. I am all to familiar with this because I’ve done all the above whether it was before or while I was in active addiction and the days since I came into recovery.
I couldn’t count the times I’ve heard an addict say that they couldn’t handle the situation they were going thru so they used. They couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with life on life’s terms or consequences of their addiction. So to cope with their feelings or to escape reality they used. Death or the end of a relationship(romantic or other) with a family member, loved one. Memories of the past, financial issues, health issues(their own or someone close to them), homelessness, the wreckage of their past, or the fear of the future are just a few of the many reasons that an addict gives to return to using.
Even people who are not addicted to drugs and alcohol turn to shopping, eating, gambling, smoke to many cigarettes or whatever because they don’t want to feel or they felt like they deserved it. Addict or not we don’t do just one of anything. Instead of one outfit, one donut, or one scratch off ticket we have or do many. I’ve heard myself when I stand in front of some pretty display of new shiny stuff saying, “This(or that) happened(or didn’t happen) and I deserve to treat myself.”
In the last 3yrs I’ve gone thru more than my fair share of life on life’s terms “stuff”. Divorce, a failed relationship after that, near homelessness, a family member and now myself with health issues, financial problems and people talking “stuff” behind my back. Now i am currently faced with homelessness again, severe financial problems, excommunication from what’s left of my family, and even being sued and backstabbed by 2 family members that I thought would never do such things to me. Would I be justified to react negatively by getting high or lashing out? Sure! Is that the right way to act? Absolutely not. When I come down from that high I’d still have my problems and then some or I’d have legal problems along with the other problems. Perhaps I wouldn’t come down from that high at all.
Besides the life on life’s terms stuff, I’ve expected to do all kinds of things. Go on vacation, to an orchid show, get certain jobs, and many other plans. For one reason or another these plans didn’t pan out. Matter of fact last year my vacation was rescheduled 2 or 3 times before it was cancelled altogether. Sure I stomped around the house but I didn’t use or do anything else I’d regret. Instead I put on some music and did a bit of housework or gardening. It took some time but I finally calmed down and realized that things happen and I had no control over it. I only had control of myself and how I reacted.
So how does one(addict or non addict) get passed things or people that disappoint us? One thing we can all do is remember we are powerless over other people and circumstances. We do have control over ourselves, our feelings, thoughts and actions. Another thing that helps is knowing that everything happens for a reason. That reason could be that a lesson needed to be learned or, of a door closing, another door opens. I can think of a number of lessons I learned because someone disappointed me or plans fell thru. What are some disappointments that taught you a lesson?
Thought for the day: the best way to avoid disappointment is to always hope for the best but expect the worst.