At first I wasn’t sure if I had heard my friend clearly. Or correctly. After all, our conversation had covered a lot of ground – childhood, families, DIY projects, friendships, disappointments, etc. It was my friends reply to something I had said about a disappointment that made me question my hearing. PH had looked at me and said she was reminded of something she was told years ago…
“You don’t go to the hardware store looking for lemonade.”
I must admit I was, at first, somewhat flummoxed. It took a few seconds, okay, so it took more than a few seconds for my brain to wrap around the point. When the light of understanding finally flipped on, I swear I could almost feel that silly light bulb hanging over my head.
I looked at PH and all I could say was, ” huh, go figure, all this time my problem has been going to hardware stores for lemonade.”
That is what prompted me to reflect on the various disappointments in my life. It was a bit surprising for me to discover something about myself that I would never have believed and, CRIKEY!, had me feeling tinges of embarrassment.
You see, I started to think of past situations that left me feeling disappointed had to do with the fact that there were, uh, kinda, sorta, expectations involved. After all, what else would make me think I could go to a hardware store for lemonade. Fresh squeezed. With Lillet blanc. And vodka. Uh, pardon me, I’m back now.
Anyway, I was talking about the realization of having expectations attached to certain situations and, then, when things didn’t go as expected the end result was disappointment.
So what, huh? Where’s the fire? Why make noise? It certainly isn’t anything to feel embarrassed over, right? Well, it matters to me because I am talking about disappointments in relationships. It was like a blindfold had been taken off and I could, finally, see what I had been doing that, actually, set myself up for the disappointment.
I couldn’t help but think of my mother. She and I had what I would call “an interesting” relationship. We could have a lot of fun together – I have fond memories of just being silly and laughing an evening away – and we could also have enjoyable chats. However, the minute anything serious came up emotional boundaries were drawn and I would leave feeling either miffed or hurt. Or both. Usually both. And terribly disappointed.
It never occured to me to consider that I was asking mom for something she just simply couldn’t, or didn’t even have, to give. You know, the whole going to the hardware store for lemonade thing. It was when I stopped wanting something in particular from mom that we were finally able to hit a comfortable stride with each other.
The same can be said of disappointments in friendship. Though I have tried to avoid placing expectations on friends I had to admit to myself I wasn’t very successful. Yes, the more I thought about it, the more I saw the connection between my wanting something in particular and the resulting disappointment.
It isn’t that I think there is anything wrong in turning to family or friends to have particular needs or wants filled … after all, filling needs/wants is part of the give-and-take experienced in relationships. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that any time expectations (conscious or subconscious) exceed a persons, or the relationships emotional limits, things are going to end in disappointment.
I am reminded of the last few months of my mothers life. There was an easiness, a relaxed comfortableness between us and I was able, for the first time, to see her as a woman and not just mom. There are a few reasons for the changes that took place in our relationship, some of which I have already written about. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was I no longer placed expectations on our relationship. I can now see that I had stopped looking, uh, shopping for mom to fill particular emotional voids that she just could not fill.
And I don’t want to act that way with my friends – I don’t want to place any particular expectations on them as if they’re responsible for filling any emotional voids I may be feeling. So, it’s not just a matter of me not going to the hardware store for lemonade… I shouldn’t want to.
Unless it’s fresh squeezed. With Lillet Blanc. And Vodka.