I have to admit, I have a lot of unrealistic expectations of the people around me. I have found that people in a similar situation have similar such unrealistic expectations. Actually, I saw this in myself after talking to my cousin. It is so easy to recognize in others; I had to look at myself to see if the same thing were in me and it was. Let me explain.
I hold it against people when they don’t understand something that there is absolutely no way that they could understand. The grief of losing a child who has grown into a person that you know and really like. I enjoyed who Christopher had become. Of course, I loved him, but I was so very thankful that I liked him and really enjoyed him.
People don’t know what to say to me, what to do for me. A neighborhood family, with whom I have not been very close in recent years, sent me an graduation announcement for their daughter who is finishing high school this year. At the same time, Christopher would have/should have been graduating. I see such an invitation, sent without any apparent realization that I am grieving not being able to celebrate with my child, and I want to just scream, “Are you freakin’ crazy?”
When I step back and pause before crying out, I realize that their lives are going on. And they should as they haven’t lost what I’ve lost. There is no way that they can know the pain that I know. It is unrealistic to think that they would. I’ve often said that this is probably the only experience in my life that I honestly wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I am so very sensitive to people who, even in jest, complain about their kids . . . about them coming home from college with all their stuff . . . about anything. I want to scream out, “Do you know how fortunate you are to have your kids?” Truth is they don’t; I didn’t as much as I would now.
I’ve always heard that you don’t know what you have until you have lost it. I think that is true. One thing that I have been thankful for is that I almost lost Christopher around his 16th birthday; we really struggled as a family. But what that difficult time did was give me an appreciation for the last 15 months that I had Christopher here. I enjoyed that time with him in a way that I couldn’t have had we not been estranged for a brief period of time. I knew what it was to not have an enjoyable relationship and I was so very thankful for the good times we were enjoying.
People can’t understand and they don’t know what to say. Truth is, they will never say the right thing, as far as I am concerned. I need to extend them grace. I don’t want them to understand. Nobody should have to understand.
And another thing I have to realize is that just be cause my world has changed and as a result, I have changed, doesn’t mean that anybody else is going to change or has changed. People who didn’t know how to deal with emotions before aren’t going to magically be sensitive and insightful and yet I am disappointed when they don’t “get it.” I was disappointment with there were family and friends who I think “should have known” and didn’t even as much as acknowledge the difficulty of special days such as Adoption Day or Mother’s Day.
I need to let go of these unrealistic expectations. It is hard as I keep finding them. They are all over the place, successfully pulling me down. I need to take the power back and mange the expectations so that I don’t have to manage more pain. I have enough pain to deal with, thank you very much.