Sometimes, when things happen that require the support of others, it can be surprisingly beautiful. People who you would least expect to show up, do. They arrive with hugs, and understanding looks, and comforting words. They offer up patience and kindness and if not empathy, at least sympathy. They are amazing, these surprises. They are the seeds of friendship. They are everything.
But the flip side of that are the expectations you have of other people, the assumption, the hope that they will show up, and then they don’t. This is one of the great emotional struggles of my life, this waiting, this disappointment, over and over again.
Do I set my expectations too high? Is it unfair of me to assume you’ll be there? After all we’ve been through, after so many times of me being there for you. Maybe the answer is yes. Truly, maybe it is.
Maybe it’s the expectations that destroy me. Because when the unexpected show up and offer me what little they can, it is more than enough. It is everything. But when I’m waiting for you to offer me a lot, and you give me only a little, it feels like nothing. It makes me feel like nothing. It makes me feel like what we have is nothing.
It’s the same amount, essentially, but it feels so different. One feels like a blessing. The other breaks my heart.
How do you stop doing this? I’m asking, honestly. How do you stop expecting, stop hoping, stop believing someone you love will change? How do you give up the high standards you have set for them without lessening the love you feel for them? How do you lessen the love you feel at all?
It’s not something I’ve ever learned how to do. Part of me is grateful for that. It’s the part of me that reads quotes about letting people go who don’t treat you well, and then wonders how and why anyone would ever want to let anyone else go. It’s the part of me that doesn’t let people go, but instead continues to fight for them, and for me, and for our friendship. It’s the part of me that loves unconditionally, even when it’s painful to do so.
But the other part of me hurts, a lot. And it’s difficult to be grateful for such sadness. It’s difficult to stop expecting things from you, stop wanting things from you, stop hoping for us. It’s difficult to be let down, over and over again.
It’s difficult to stop believing that you are amazing, because you are. Because I’m a good judge of character and know that you are worth fighting for. Because it wouldn’t be painful for me if you weren’t so wonderful, if I didn’t love you so much.
But how long am I expected to hold on to hope? How long am I supposed to wait? How many times do I need to be disappointed before I decide that it’s enough?
I’m asking, honestly. Because I don’t know the answer. I don’t know how to stop loving people, loving you. I take pride in that. But also, it destroys me. Also, it breaks my heart.
Also, I keep waiting. And expecting. And hoping, even now, that this time things will be different. Maybe this time, you’ll show up.