A retaining wall of expectations

Expectations are right up there with change when it comes to screwing with my emotional state.

I would bet that a majority of people have vivid memories. Something that happened many years ago, last week, or yesterday, play through our minds like a movie. Sometimes a good movie, sometimes a bad one.


Here’s a sampling of mine. Letting go of some of them has been extremely liberating.

Expectation of being the PERFECT mother. Does that even exist? What is the definition of a perfect mother?

Expectation of always saying the correct thing at just the right time.    ?

Expectation of having zero anxiety. Anxiety to some extent is normal. What’s abnormal is when the irrational fear of the what ifs consume us, crippling us from living.

Expectation of being perfect–whatever my definition of perfection is, unfortunately, I never seem to reach it. In the end, I finally realize that the results were my best effort—even if it took five tries, and the results remain unsatisfactory.

Of the many vivid memories I hold in my brain’s storage room, my fondest is of a moment about eight years ago.

My husband and I were working on a stone retaining wall in our backyard. It was grueling work, and I can still remember the pain in my joints. The feel of the tendon in my arm that was aggravated so badly while chiseling bricks, that I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a pen for quite a while after the wall was complete.

But that’s not what I play in my mind.

There was a moment I sat on the edge of the wall we were building, took a deep breath, closed my eyes—and there it was—contentment. Maybe it was that moment of being.

I remember the feel of the gentle too-warm-breeze, the smell of the stinky Georgia clay, the color of the leaves, the texture of the bark on the old oaks, my husband placing a shovel into the dirt. The moment I accepted the fact that we had to make a new home so far from where we came from.

That one single moment of contentment.

I haven’t felt it since, and I have no other memory of ever feeling that way.

I expect to have more than that lone memory.




About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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15 Responses to A retaining wall of expectations

  1. I’m especially familiar with the expectation of having zero anxiety. I make big plans, expecting to be able to do them… and when my anxiety gets too strong, I have to cancel my plans, and I am crushed. 😦

    • April says:

      I truly understand that one. Then I hear the voice of my therapist asking me what’s the worse that could happen, and where is the proof behind my anxiety. It’s helped quite a bit. At least I’m not totally stopped in my tracks. Hopefully you can learn to let go of your expectations 🙂

  2. Tracy says:

    I hope you feel it again…very soon April! ❤️

  3. To each our own devices. I’ve pretty much eliminated the word “expectations” from my vocabulary and chosen to replace it with the word “anticipation” whenever I can/it’s appropriate. I find it much easier to work with. There seems to be so much more possible/available when looking at or into things with anticipation. 🙂

  4. mewhoami says:

    I think that sometimes we place so many expectations on ourselves that it prevents us from enjoying life and all our small victories. Our small victories count just as much as the big ones.

    • April says:

      Very true. I always found that while I was expecting to be the perfect mom, when we went on vacations I was constantly worried if everyone was having fun. I had an image in my mind and expected it to all go well. Unfortunately, they missed—or rather I missed out on some of the relaxed laughter.

  5. Glynis Jolly says:

    I’m always astounded when I done or said something right. And, although it usually happens this way, I’m amazed about how calm I act in a crisis, especially seeing that I have GAD. Of course, after the crisis is over, I fall apart. Delayed reaction? :/

    • April says:

      I have delayed reactions after a crisis. I can stay on track and get throught the crisis, but like you, I fall apart after.

  6. reocochran says:

    I like this post so much, April! I had pushed ‘like’ a day or so ago, came back to re-read it. I have a few moments of contentment and those still, calm sweet memories help me through my roughest days. Do you have any from childhood or young adulthood, that are not as good as this, but almost? Having this one means enough for this moment. I hope you will have another one someday, too. Hugs, Robin

    • April says:

      I do have memories, I just couldn’t think of any at the time I wrote that post. Funny thing about anxiety and a poor self-esteem, we always tend to focus on the negative stuff. I’m determined to turn that around to the positive.

  7. suzjones says:

    If you build it, they will come….
    As you rebuild your life after this time of darkness, the memories (the good things) and everything else will come. 🙂 Be strong my friend.

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