A journal entry from April 29, 2018.

I struggle with expectations. I set these expectations, then when they aren’t met, I wonder – don’t I deserve what I want to happen, to happen? Why let go and settle for less?

But there is a difference between expectations and needs.

“Attaching our well being to a particular action or outcome is very risky. In essence, we make that situation a kind of higher power – we give our power over to other people and circumstances… We have the ability to change our attitudes. We can detach from our [expectations], anchoring our well being and peace of mind our Higher Power rather than any external situation.” – How Al Anon Works

Do not let your expectations become your Higher Power.

These past two days, this past weekend, I’ve woken up with this idea in my head of what the morning would look like. Maybe it was the Instagram posts of a local mother, a photographer who manages to make suburban mom life look so perfect – her family stylishly dressed, going to hipster cafes and taking perfectly candid photos in front of painted brick walls. So I wanted a morning spent in our little downtown, at a park and then for a meal or dessert. I wanted to make it out by 11, so we could grab a small breakfast and have time to talk and play. M got out of bed at a decent time but took nearly two hours getting ready. We didn’t make it downtown until 12:30. By the time we left the house, I was crabby and short with M and m. Looking back, it seems so silly to have been so angry after having such a nice day.

A delicious bacon sandwich and iced mocha at a new-to-us cafe. A walk in the sunshine along the river, m pushed on his trike. m running around the park with no fear. His laugh. We made it back to get m down for a nap by 3, then I listened to a podcast while making pasta and roasting vegetables for the week. Shawn Achor was on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, talking about happiness and how worry can be a waste of time. They’re just thoughts, noise, taking up space that would be better used for something that brings joy rather than negativity.

Why focus on what’s going wrong? On how my expectations aren’t being met? Why do I let running late get to me? Even when I set the time frame – when I tell myself we have to be somewhere at a certain time for no real reason, and then I let that dictate my attitude. M will take longer than I like, and I take it out on him. Even though he got out of bed when I asked, and even started getting ready without first going out for a cigarette. I still grumbled about it, and got so impatient and frustrated. I yelled at m and he felt my anger. I saw him get quiet and upset as a reaction to my crabbiness. And for what? Everything turned out fine. We had such a nice day. And I regret those few hours when I was just so upset for no good reason.

I have been confusing my expectation for my needs.

What do I need? To spend quality time with my husband and my son. A husband who wants to spend time with me, who loves his family, who takes care of us. It can’t be about what I expect our days to look like before they even begin. Because by the end of the day – there is a little boy playing in the backyard with his daddy, asking questions and saying things like, “Oh, I have an idea!” when he thinks of something new and exciting on his own. There is laundry clean and dry and waiting to be folded. There are windows flung open and a house that finally smells fresh and clean and full of new again. There are plants with fresh soil, watered and green. There is a just vacuumed carpet and pasta sauce bubbling on the stove. There are healing crystals at work around the house, and a full moon, and a clear sky.

Also feeling today:

  • Scattered. I kept starting chores and then getting distracted by another task. I started to hang dry laundry, then got half way done and started clearing the floor to vacuum, then came downstairs and realized I hadn’t finished the laundry.
  • Mom guilt. Totally felt guilty for letting m watch TV while I vacuumed, when outside, it was beautiful. He wanted to watch TV, and he played outside in the morning (and then again after TV), and how else am I supposed to clean without interruption?
  • Letting go. Of my expectations of what I think my writing should look like. What I actually got out on the page today was not what I wrote in my head earlier. But I got it out.
  • Paying attention to my plants. I actually started talking to them, and I noticed I felt better after I gave them some attention. I realized we all share the same energy in this home. If I put more energy into caring for my plants, maybe they’ll help bring more positive energy to our space.
  • Crystals. Charoite was brought to my attention after finding it in my crystal book by mistake. I read the description and it’s what I have been looking for to help with my fears of relapse, as well as letting go of expectations. Prehnite is a stone I just bought last month because I kept stumbling upon its description. I read today that it’s good for connecting with nature – explains my new connection to my plants!
  • Prayer. Please help me to let go of expectations. To keep a positive attitude. To be grateful for all the ways in which my needs are met every day.

Search and surrender.

“Creativity is a powerful way to celebrate who you are. It is spiritual energy that nourishes our vitality. It is a way to replace negative thinking with positive action. When we create, we plant ourselves firmly in the moment and teach ourselves that what we do matters.” Courage to Change

I write during the in-between. In my head. During small moments in my car, or washing dishes, or sitting in my cubicle at work – thoughts will enter, a sentence will form, present moments turn into short bursts of text on the page. Except there is no page in front of me, and I’m forced to tuck away the thoughts, hoping I’ll remember them when I actually have time to sit down and write. I never do – remember or have time. I make time by sitting down and just starting to type, but before that I tell myself I should be doing something else, and then when I spend a few more minutes not doing that something else I realize, OK, just write.

So I sit down, start writing. Sometimes the words flow. Those thoughts almost never come back, though. I reach back in my memory, try to visualize the words on the page, the moments when they appeared. Poof – gone.

Funny, that it’s the thoughts I want to hang on to are the ones that go. Then, during meditation, when I try to focus on the present, when I try to turn thoughts into clouds that I acknowledge and then watch as they float by – that’s when they keep coming back.

“You’re not supposed to stop thinking,” M tells me. So then I’m just thinking about not not thinking.

There it is. Now watch it float on.

//

We’ve been going to crystal singing bowl healing sessions. I keep falling asleep. The bowls’ vibrations flow through me in circles. I can feel the sounds dip and curve in my body, in my head, ringing through my ears. Sometimes they give me a headache. Sometimes I can feel the vibration deep in my gut. And then, I awaken. I don’t remember falling asleep, though. Instead, it feels as though I teleported to nowhere and then returned. Snap! Just like that. The first time, I was convinced I “went somewhere,” and the instructor told us about “yoga nidra” – a state of consciousness between awake and asleep. Yes! That’s where I was. The second time, I thought maybe I entered yoga nidra again. “You were sawing logs,” M told me. I felt disappointed. Like I missed out on an opportunity to be closer to the universe, to the energy I’m trying so desperately to feel.

//

I often feel like I’m grasping for spirituality, maybe trying too hard. It seems to come much easier for M, but then, he’s always been more in touch with a Higher Power – a feeling that we are all connected, that someone is looking out for him.

I’m afraid of being a phony. Always worried about what other people think. Shopping for mala beads online and then asking myself, What will I say if people ask me about them? Will they think I’m just conforming to a trend? Trying to be someone I’m not? Will this bring me closer to what I’m looking for?

//

Distractions. Grasping for every new thing, hoping it will be the thing that heals me, that brings me to that place where I am suddenly connected and at peace and it all makes sense. But shouldn’t I just keep it simple? Prayer. I need nothing to pray, just open arms and the will to surrender.

“When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender some more.” Gabby Bernstein

Somehow, I even manage to overthink prayer. I should pray, I tell myself. But when? Do I need to set aside a time to be spiritual, to bow down to a little Buddha statue, diffuse frankincense, line up my crystals and ask the universe for…. what?

I keep thinking that all the things will help me, but really, I think what I’m doing is OK. Thinking about prayer. Acknowledging that the universe has my back. Prayer doesn’t have to be a talk with God but rather, my own communication. That might look different than someone else’s, maybe someone who sets aside time every Sunday to worship, or every day to read the Bible. Maybe my prayer is simply looking up at the sky and knowing that it was created with love, and that love flows through me, and that is enough. It’s all going to be OK.

And those things? The crystals and the jewelry – they’re all OK too. As long as I don’t fall into the idea that they hold the answers. They make me happy, they make me aware, they bring me closer to myself and my husband and the energy around us. They are tangible things I can hold in my hand, wear around my neck, look down at my wrists and remember that I have opened up my arms, I have surrendered, and I must continue to surrender every day.