I have been told from time to time that I expect too much. Of life, which makes me the eternal optimist, of myself, which can lead to unreachable targets, and certainly of others. I always want people to do the best they can in our relationship, even if that is more than they think they are capable of themselves. If they dont meet my expectations? I wont pretend that I can’t be harsh at times, and have given up on people when they don’t manage to rise to the challenge of true friendship. This probably sounds very callous. But if two people dont make each other happy, and can’t see where each other are coming from… what’s the point? Life’s too short.
Some might say I wont make many friends that way, I might argue I make the best friends that way. To be fair to myself, I have also been told that I am very quick to forgive, and it is true that any sincere apology renders the slate clean for me without any grudge whatsoever.
But what do we do when these expectations land on someone who cannot meet them, but we cannot mercilessly remove from our stratosphere? Who, despite what may be best for the both of us, must remain in close proximity, and be dealt with if not daily, then certainly often enough.
I’m talking once again about parents. In the most extreme of situations, you see family members, even siblings entirely estranged for one reason or another. Parents are much more complicated, especially with grandchildren involved.
Having spent most of my life holding staunchly to my “You’re not doing well enough, apologize and do better” mantra, (on myself as much as others- i should say) it’s hard to admit to myself that in this case, it isnt the answer. This routine can only work if in the case of multiple arguments and failiures on both parts, seperation can happen. I wont pretend we havent tried that as an answer, but maybe thankfully, it doesnt work. In which case I need a new solution. If “do better” is impossible, and the endless cycle of argument, sort of apology, move on, argument etc is just too exhausting, then there must be a third option.
Be more tolerant. Not everyone is going to do everything the way I might. I am not going to do everything the way others may want me to. Maybe we are both incapable of being the parent/child each other envisage. Maybe it is possible to say “Wow, this is happening because neither myself or X is perfect, and we dont always mesh in the way we think and act. We think so differently, that however hard we try, we will never see eye to eye on everything or even most things. This is not going to change, and these endless fights dont get us anywhere. Unless there is a clear way to ensure this doesnt happen next time, it’s just not worth getting angry.”
Enlightening. Stop trying to change the relationship. Stop trying to fix it. Be appreciative of the things you do have, and try not to dwell on what you wish was there. Try to build something new, not what you have in your mind perhaps, but good nonetheless.
A tall order, and a work in progress.