Those of you who know me already know that, while I write of the value of detachment when it comes to emotional responses to things, and the value therein, I struggle a lot with finding the balance between expectations and disappointment. For the majority of my life, I’ve dealt with this by simply not looking forward to things, by not having expectations of positive results or experiences or whatever, centered around myself. I’ll be the first to admit that a huge, huge part of this a remnant from earlier in life, and it’s rooted in superstition. If you don’t think about the good thing you want, if you don’t draw attention to it, then it has less of a chance of falling through or being ruined by someone who wants to ruin things for you. Don’t name the thing, don’t think about the thing, and maybe the thing might come to pass.
There are a few problems with this approach. One important one is that I’ve developed a bit of a resentment toward people (generally Beth) having the ability to look forward to things. Events or experiences, but also physical things. Connected to this is a small thread of my not being as interested in physical things (except for knitting, the things that I do and make do not require the acquisition of stuff), and so when you look around my house, a lot of what you see is stuff related to Beth. She’s got more books out, she’s got more stuff out — and as she makes things, this makes total sense, but one result of this is that I often find myself feeling like I’m not connected to my home through my stuff. I feel like I’m crashing at Beth’s. (We’re working on this both in that I’m allowing myself to acquire more books, and in that we’re creating a writing nook for me in our wee apartment, yay!) I don’t resent the people, mind you. I love Beth and I cherish her support, and her presence in my life. But I resent that people have the ability to look forward to things.
There are other problems, too. The inability to Work toward positive outcomes; the prison that carefully guarding your thoughts can become; the struggle with accepting that you deserve good things while trying very hard to not think of good things happening to you . . . it’s interesting. I’m at the point where I can accept good, unexpected things happening, but planning and working toward good things that I want? It’s harder.
Harder still is seeking out religious material that I find appealing, and having it work out. There’s a history of this, and I’m struggling to decide how to best handle it. Commission a painting of Poseidon? It arrives broken. Order a picture of Matsya? It arrives –eventually — and is not entirely as expected. Order a picture of Vishnu and a picture of Lakshmi that I really adore, in this new exploration during which I’m rather open and sensitive and unsure anyway? They finally arrive, and they’re gorgeous — but the seller was rather fast and loose with dimensions, and the 5×7 that I ordered (and bought frames for, and purchased a 5×7 Ganesh image to go along with) are actually 4×6.
Maybe shouldn’t be a big thing. But I have a history of daring to be excited about something, having it not quite work out, and having that crashing disappointment that is rather rooted in my sense of worth and isn’t just about the disappointment. I feel stupid for looking forward to it, I feel stupid for thinking I get to have this thing I wanted, and I struggle to not see this as a reminder that I ought to be happy for whatever I get, and forget about even the smallest of desires.
I’m tempted, always, to use this as an example of further detachment being desirous, except I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that I would be encouraged — in this case, by Poseidon — to purchase things just to have it not turn out. He was as excited about that Poseidon painting as I was, and sometimes shit just happens. I just don’t have a healthy, adult relationship with expectations and disappointments, and I think part of this is me trying to find my way there.
Last night I had a full-blown panic attack over this. Not just over this, of course. It was a high stimulation day, thanks to having my ears cleaned out the day before and being able to hear again. Didn’t realize how muted my hearing had gotten, and there was so much noise yesterday. I should have realized when I got home and discovered that the idea of dinner (pasta with alfredo sauce) was displeasing because it was going to have too much flavor. Too much flavor in bland food is always a signal that I’m overwhelmed. So, that happened, and then dinner was too much, and the trying to settle for bread and peanut butter was too messy, and then I just couldn’t handle anything and I was in a corner trying to stay inside my skin, trying to not go running through traffic, trying to breathe. The sounds of the house around me *hurt*, and I could just about see the sound waves.
Eventually Beth let Corbie at me, and he sat and used his weight to ground me, and threw his nose in my eyes a few times, and there may have been kisses. Such a good dog. My hero.
But I hate that this small thing has the ability to tip the balance of the scale from holding on and being able to navigate through these waters to all hands on deck, may day, may day! I hate how raw and sensitive I feel about all this, and I hate that a dimensional change in two flipping photos results in me deciding that They’re all laughing at me, practically salivating to see my next let-down, my next disappointment.
Mostly, this morning, I’m ashamed, and committed to not be, because panic attacks happen, and I never pretended to be good at this, and if I’m going to work through to the point of getting good at this — of being able to handle disappointment, of allowing myself to look forward to something so much that I *can* be disappointed — well, the process is going to be messy. Nothing to be ashamed of, there.
(Maybe I should just stick with books? Books are always book-like. They are constant)