Friday, February 15, 2008

On-line Al-Anon Meeting on: Expectations

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on Expectations. If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/15/08 and runs to Sunday 2/17/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

This is where we start. To get us started here. Here is a powerful message from KevinB.

KevinB brings a lot of good comments to our blog. He is encouraging and hopeful. With that I bring you KevinB and his topic on Expectations.

"Blaming others for the pain we feel each time someone fails to live up to our expectations is no different than burning our tongue on coffee that's too hot to swallow, and then calling our cup an idiot". (Guy Finley)

Having expectations in our culture is expected. We are brought up that way. Having great expectations sounds great however when the expectation if unfilfilled, we bitch, we moan, we become disappointed. That's a problem for most people including myself.

Another disappointing thing about expectations is that they often do not come true. One love partner knows the expectation. The other love partner doesn't know the expectation of the other. Expectations are in the eye of the beholder. Can we see a problem here?

Somethings maybe we can talk about and share?

Problems are not to break us. Working together on problems makes us strong.

Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

How do we side step the disappointment?

How can we improve our communications skills?

I look forward to all that journey here this weekend, and can hardly wait to read, and have more understanding of expectations!

"What you can be with in life let's you be"

Peace this Friday.
So with that, please post your comments on this topic, or if you have a burning desire or issue, please post a comment on that too.


Anonymous said...

Having expectations sets me up for resentments. I have learned that most people will do what they want to do, some have different motives for what they do. Doing something expecting something in return never works. I always ask myself, whay is my motive, what is my agenda, what is the payoff?

Anonymous said...

At Al-Anon they say never make plans with an Alcoholic and expect the plans to be fulfilled. This is ridiculous.

But, I think I am getting it. If I set my expectations around the Alcoholic, I set myself and my family for disappointment.

While I don't like this, I know I have to deal with it.

It also means, that I don't have to stop doing what we intended on doing if he does not show up. It means I and my family should continue on with out him. Go to the movies, to the mall, or hiking with him or without.

That's his tough luck. No reason to screw my family out of fun.

Anonymous said...

I had not been maried long before I realised that I would not be able to rely on my husband to be anywhere or do anything. If he did show up, he ruined the occassion anyway. Disappointment had become my new expectation, and sadly then it just became my normality so I didn't notice it any more.
So for the last ??? 12-14 years, I have lived that life you speak of, where you do things anyway.
This for me proved to be a very tough and lonely path. Some days I would dare to hope that perhpas this time the occasion was important enough that he would make the effort, but he never did.

The upside is I have a great relationship with my children. This makes it almost worth it!

Catherine said...

I hear you, Anonymous. (Great topic, btw, KevinB.) This is a very tough topic for me to navigate cos it flows right into areas of detachment, anger and doing what's best for me.

I want to make sure my qualifier knows that he has responsibilities and that he's aware of what happens when he blows them off. For example, I expect him to pick up the kids on Friday -- that's one thing. But most of my unmet expecations are EMOTIONAL: I expect love, affection, sex, support, laughter. Those things should come naturally in a relationship. Do I have to do without that stuff because he cannot be expected to provide it? (@Anonymous: I know what you mean when you mention "tough and lonely.")

I assumed the answer was "yes," and I found that it was just too sad for me to be setting my expectations lower and lower for someone I love. I can't control him, so why set goals for him or try to predict his behavior? I realized that I had to turn the focus back onto myself. What are my expectations for ME? How do I make them realistic? Do they serve to get me through the day? And I challenge myself not to set expectations for myself that are too demanding and perfectionistic.

Marie said...

I feel this is a great topic KevinB. I also agree with Catherine I feel as time has progressed my expectations have gotten lower and lower for my spouse to the point of almost non existent and it is very painful for me to be in a relationship like this. It is very difficult to live this way non of us deserve to live like this I am starting to realize how much more I want in my life and now it is time to change the expectations to me what I expect of myself in this life. I am at the beginning stages of working on all of this but Im glad to hear all of your comments.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

When I work the word "Expectation" it seeps to my inner being, in that expecting, or expectations have left little for me in the past in regards to anything of substance. I for the most part have always been left disappointed.

I have to be honest with myself in regards to my inablilities to communicate and "Expectation", as I don't want to be met with disappointment just by communicating the expectation, or what I need in relationship. I have learned that "what I need" is uniquely different than an "Expectation".

I am also examining the "Expectations" I place on myself. I find that even when the expectation is known, because it's mine, and I own it, many times it is left in-complete by rationalizing in my mind that it is un-attainable, and I build walls within my own mind.

Normally always in a leadership role, captain of the football team, #1 in sales, whatever, the expectations of my in my mind have always been set very high by those in my life. To this day, I really don't feel that I have exceeded them, as I can't honestly say that anyone has ever recognized that fact in words or actions. Maybe I just have not been open to accept it therefore, can't hear or see it.

Anyway, I don't mean to ramble, what I seek are little victories, I can be happy with 3 points at a time, I don't need a touchdown everytime I have the ball. I seek people in my life that are true to themselves, non judgemental, accept me for who I am, can see areas in which I need growth and can communicate that in a positive and loving way.

If they are out there, and I know they are, I then don't need to seek any expectations in those relationships, and can be at peace in my heart, mind, and soul.

I believe communication is huge, even the attempt of communicating how we feel, that is left on deaf ears. At least we walk away knowing we tried to meet halfway, and be open to the needs, desires, and wants of those in our lifes.

I thank Joe for the opportunity to share here, it is a safe place for me each and everyday, and I look forward to all that is shared here, as it is truely inspiring!

Peace this Saturday.


Joe said...

Good Saturday evening to all.
This week was sort of a mixed week. The beginning of the week I was upbeat.

Then Wednesday, the regular Wednesday Family Night Meeting that I was to go really well was sort of a bust. There were too many people in the meeting and a whole new rotation of parents and spouses whose loved ones were going thru the outpatient rehab unit.

My expectations were dashed again when I found out my wife was supposed to be working with a sponsor during her time there. My wife had told me that she wasn't supposed to be working with a sponsor. I asked about this, because the counselor was pushing the newbees to make sure their qualifiers did have sponsors and were seeing/working them. I told the counselor what my wife had told me and just about everyone in the room laughed. It was good natured. Basically someone said, "How can you tell if an alcoholic is lying? Watch their lips move." I laughed too. But I felt dooped. Lied to again. Bummed. Damn.

I am so trusting and gulliable. But why should I have to not EXPECT my wife to tell me the truth? WHY do I need to sit there and put up my defenses and EXPECT that anything she says is a lie?

It depressed me all day Thursday. Can you believe it? That little thing. Another straw on the camel's back.

So I engaged her later Thursday night. I asked about this. A mistake. She danced. She said, that she said "she wasn't supposed to be working the steps." More shucking and jiving (bobbing and weaving). Then she cried for exactly 10 seconds. Then I said "get over it" and she stopped crying. She then started taking notes so she could tell the counselor what an Asshole I am. Her words. She was crying one minute and the next taking notes to tell the counselor on me. What a farce. What a life. What a nightmare.

Expectations. A great word. It is one of my favorite word.

I learned this word years ago. When I first learned it I was told by someone not to have good expectations or you will be disappointed.

Then about 15 years later, when I was studying success so I could get out of the "mindset" I had been brought up in (getting out of the "poor" mindset) I relearned the word "expectations."

It was tied to another word. And that was "Positive." Together they form "Positive Expectations."

You should "program" your mind to have "positive expectations" the book said. Read another book and and another. All said the same. So I reprogrammed my mind to expect the best, the positive in every situation, from everyone.

And ... it WORKED!

Then this little thing called alcoholism came along - and it kicked me in the teeth and the chair from right underneath me.

Setting my Expectations now without the alcoholic in mind for me has been hard. I married someone with the expectations that we will support and love each other. It's not turning out that way. Seems like she takes and takes.

So my expectations about a marriage are gone.

My expectations about tomorrow?

I see a brighter day ahead. I cannot tell you why I see it. But I see a house filled with sunshine. That is no lie. I see it almost every day. Sun coming in the morning thru the back of the house in the kitchen. Weird.

With Great Expectations, I am truly expecting a better Joe

Anonymous said...

Thanks all for sharing.
This is truly a difficult topic.
For the last 15 or so years, my now recovering husband has failed to live up to basic human and social expectations. In recent months it is me who is unable to live up to his expectations.
How is this so?
How do I rectify this?
(Do I want to rectify this? Why can't I make him suffer for a while the way I have? I need to rid my mind of these destructive thoughts and feel good about myself!!)
I find I am now failing to live up to my own expectations of me.

Tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow I will meet my expectations of self!

Anonymous said...


Your words bring a song to mind for me.

"Fire & Rain" James Taylor.....

Bright. Sunshine. Your right,as in the light all things are good. In darkness we lose our way, and seek the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end, been lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that that I'd see you, one more time again"...... (James Taylor)

Me - Those words bring me back to my foundation. A new beginning.

This time - I pray for direction, that leads me to more sunny days, than lonely times.

Peace Joe.


Joe said...

Thank you KevinB. I closed my eyes this morning and thought about How I would like to be. And become. And align my behavior to this thought. I can only CONTROL that. For this I have learned in Al-Anon and in the Book I quoted this past week.

Great song btw. How true it is for me this morning. Need to find it and put it on iPod when I go running today. Thanks again.

To Anonymous with husband in recovery. The one looking to release a little resentment and getting some retribution.

Maybe the words I used above is too harsh - or direct. I mean no harm.

Jeez, I hate to use Al-Anon as if I am trying to sell it. For I am not. But maybe I am. But ......

For us .... it has some great "teachings." Especially about detachment and suffering.

Here is a quote from the Al-Anon book "The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage." page 56 (bottom of page). By the way, at the Al-Anon meetings they have free phamphlet which are Exceptional. ANd they have these books. So you can buy without trying to find them in Barnes and Noble and risk the worry of being seen. Also, Al-Anon will send them to you in plain wrapper if you call them to order. I think the return address is AFG (Alanon Family Groups) to keep it anonymous.

Back to the quote;
"All of us feel sorry for ourselves at times, especially if we've been through the fire of living with an active drinker, but yout husband is sober now and you ought to learn how to get rid of some of the attitudes that keep you from living fully and enjoying every day. So how about working out of this martyr role and getting some fun out of life!"

Notice the focus is on US (all of us). Damn, I do want to be a martyr just for a day! We want someone to say, "Jeez I put you thru HELL. Thank you for being there. I cannot repay you. But I do everything I can to show my appreciation." Don't we want that? Just that statement?

What's wrong with that statement? Anyone?

What's wrong is this is...(and I am really writing to myself now.If you gain from this great.) ... is this. I am placing my feelings in control of another person. When I do this, I set myself up for failure. The failure is no one will live up to the expectations I have for how I want to be or how I want to feel. These are MY expectations. When I expect someone to do something so I can feel good, I lose control. I allow others to control me and my feelings about how I feel about myself. I need to not allow or expect anyone to determine how I need or want to feel.

Does that make sense to you? It is a hard concept to grasp. It's harder to put into practice.

If you look it up in the internet it's called an internal locus of control versus an external locus of control. We feel good about ourselves in direct proportion to how much of an internal locus of control we have.


As spouses and those who are children of alcoholics, we tend to look to see how the alcoholic "accepts" us or "rejects" us. Translated means, we do things to make sure he or she "likes" us or so that we feel worthy of their attention. Or so that he won't get mad. Can you believe that???

OK - so for me today,
- I am going running. Listen to James Taylor. Along with the Rocky theme song. I have a few others to get me "up."
- I am going to do something fun with my daughter. I hope she wants to go!
- I may find an Al-Anon meeting. Try out- test out another one.

THANKS everyone. And have a great morning.
PS- I went to sleep last night at 9:30. Saturday night at 9:30. But I did need it. I feel mucho better with sleep!

Laurie said...

Expectation. A huge word. I can remember when i was a kid my Mom would get so upset if a family event didn't go just as she wanted it. She'd say "this is not how I envisioned this day." And I'd think "sorry we didn't live up to your expectations!" So my childhood was often spent making sure I met Mom's expectations. I hated it. As soon as I got out on my own I was tired of meeting other people's expectations. I went a little crazy, but I think I've got things under control now. So, given that, I want my husband to live up to my expectations? Contradictory for me. However, I don't think I'm taking it to the extreme my Mom did. I just want him to do what he says he'll do. I just want the truth. I just want to be able to plan a day and, uh-oh, have it go as I envisioned it. Crap. Need to work on this one obviously! Thank you all for you comments. So helpful here!

So, today, I am enjoying this day and hope you all do too!

Ashley said...

Expectations are a huge problem for me. In fact, it's one of the first things I wrote about on my blog.

I've read a lot of the "expectations" readings in Al-Anon books. This one helped me get my mind straight. It may help others.

Turning to an alcoholic for affection and support can be like going to a hardware store for bread. Perhaps we expect a "good" parent to nurture and support our feelings, or a "loving" spouse to comfort and hold us when we are afraid, or a "caring" child to want to pitch in when we are ill or overwhelmed. While these loved ones may not meet our expectations, it is our expectations, not our loved ones, that have let us down.

Love is expressed in many ways, and those affected by alcoholism may not be able to express it the way we would like. But we can try to recognize love whenever and however it is offered. When it is not, we don't have to feel deprived; most of us find an unfailing source of love in Al-Anon. With the encouragement and support of others, we learn to treat our needs as important and appropriate, and to treat ourselves as deserving.

Today the alocholic may or may not be able to give us what we desire. And no one person will ever offer all that we require. If we stop insisting that our needs be met according to our will, we may discover that all the love and support we need is already at our fingertips.

Courage to Change pg 2.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed is I believe people when they tell me stuff. I beleive them when they say they will try, I beleive them when they say they are sorry, I believe them when they tell me it will be different this time. Why shouldn't I beleive them? After all, when I say all those things I mean them and I follow through, however, not everyone is me. I expect the same from others that I would give them, and this is where I get into trouble, and usually get hurt. Actually I become dissapointed and that feeling is far worse because it then drags up all the other dissapointments I've felt over the years. Suddenly my backpack is full again and I am full of self pity, despair, I spiral down. I can't do dissapointment. I also noticed that I react based on how others treat me or have treated me in the past. I feel like a dog that has been trained that way. Actaully it's from walking on eggshells from living with abuse. I surmise how you are doing then base my behavior off of that. I think that's called Co-dependancy. Living with abuse in any form has made me that way. It's hard to change my perceptions and reactions so I just normally choose to avoid situations that create those feelings in me. it's far easier to be alone than to be with someone who always triggers that stuff in me, so I search and search for a healthy someone, but we all come with baggage, well most of us who have been on this planet a while at least.
I've found some peace in the idea of not being "attached". Not attached to the outcome. If he doesn't call he doesn't call, I will do something else, if he doesn't make it he doesn't make it, I will have a good time anyway. Trust me it sucks at the time and I get pissed inside. Eventually I see that he isn't capable of showing up and I think more about what that looks like for me. Hense I feel alone even if I am with someone.
Then comes the problem of having someone who tells me he's there for me, shows up for me, is healthy and does what he says and I find myself sabatoging that because I just know it won't messed up is that? I guess that's why I am in recovery, and I sometimes need outside help to help me unravel my crap, learn new coping skills and how to do it all different ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Joe said...

Nice comments. Great responses. Great weekend turnout.

Catherine said...

Agreed, Joe! Thank you so much everyone who has shared. I'm really relating so much and getting so much out of this weekend.

Anonymous said...


I understand the thought process, if you would let me elaborate my feelings in regards to the honesty you shared here for all to read.

I know a fantastic women that once shared "Why settle for a dixie cup when you can have a banana split?

Not exact words, but close enough for horse shoes and hand granades...

Anyway, let's examine the two. Ya, your right, the dixie cup is simple wrapped in plastic, and a cardboard top. The banana split is placed in a glass bowl, and decorated with all the trimmings. Quite a sight to see actually. From 1st glance a true thing of beauty.... What comes to mind is that you can see the dixie cup, it's transparent, from top to bottom..... The banana split, looks great from the top, but as you spoon deeper, how is to say the "banana" isn't brown, or rotten? I am a believer "never judge a book by the cover". You have to do the work, and read each chapter, 1 by 1.

Charlie Brown Christmas.... We all have seen the show during the Holidays......

He goes to the Xmas tree lot, all the glistning, gold, silver, the bomb trees from the outside in are all gone......

He comes back with simply a "Branch". He is met instantly with push back, and resentment in the fact he picked the "ugly" tree, naked to the world, no gold,no silver, just a tree, a branch, left by all..... Except for Charlie Brown....

The story goes, that with love, nuturing, caring, compassion, and a believe that we all are simply a "branch" it can become a thing of wonderous beauty, simply by love taking over, and transforming that simple "branch" into a stunning, shining, ray of light.

That tree, that Charlie Brown picked, reminds me of our hearts. Naked in the wind for all to mock, batter, put down, all for nothing other than seeking the heart of gold, silver, all the trimmings of what the world tells us is good for us.... But like the banana split, what's at the root of that "perfect" tree?

Anyway, love, it's work! It's putting the other first, it taking a chance, it's two people that share a commen interest, in each other, building them up, not down, doing what the other wants at times, it's showing up, it's calling, it's wanting the other to be better for themselves, thus they can be better for the other...

Give me the dixie cup, and a wooden spoon. At least I know what I am biting into........

Charlie Brown's Xmas Tree..... What a lesson for all of us this Sunday night.

Peace. It's there for all of us.


Anonymous said...

I've read everyone's comments on "expectations" and it will now change the whole course of my day! Thank you everyone. My husband relapsed and I found out he has been lieing to me for months about being clean. I am so ANGRY! It is killling me. I feel so sick and anxious and unfocused. I keep asking "Why me" and blaming him for all of my newfound misery. But maybe if I take my control back, I can help myself. This anger is a true poison.
Thank you everyone

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Anonymous said...

In two months, I will have been married to an alcoholic for fifteen years. I don't say that to garner any praises. It's 3:30 on a Saturday night, my husband just got home from a club( to where he drove intoxicated) or should I say, he just came home from a 6 month stay at a correctional facility for his 5th dui. Did he learn from our suffering? I think not. Should I leave? Should I stay? What am I teaching my daughters by staying? Tolerance? Tonight before the football game came on, it was all fun and games, daddy is so funny! Why can't you be funny like him? With each drink he takes, each time he laughs, I cringe because I know what's coming. The argument, the fight over the car keys. I already let one car get reposessed because it was "his Car" and I didn't want to feel responsibility over his having the use of a destructive weapon another time. With each drink, I draw farther away from him, but he thinks we're just fine, that we'll go to bed together...I can't stand to be of such focus to him because I just can't bring myself to be touched, abused while he won't even remember it in the morning. I don't have anyone to talk to, because to the world, he's a "Great guy". No one understands my pain. The whole world is asleep and I'm afraid to go into my bedroom for fear of what is waiting for me in there. I'm constantly in fear of what can and has erupted in the wake of my terror and his indifference.

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Michaela said...

I am glad I found this. I hate all Holidays. I am feeling defeated. Every Holiday is centered around Alcohol. Why should it be different than any other day of the week. I am feeling like there is nothing to look forward to.