One of the things I’ve definitely learned in life up to this point, is that the only person you can truly have expectations for is yourself. Expectations for the person with BPD can lead to many explosions and disappointments.
I’ve learned that to expect someone to behave in a way that is pleasing to you, well it’s just not realistic.
Having expectations for any other individual (one exception maybe being your children) can often leave you feeling gutted (empty) and miserable(depressed). Almost a quarter of a century ago I remember making some smart-ass comment to my mother… “Don’t have expectations and you won’t be let down.” Quite a feisty comment coming from the mouth of her teenage daughter.
I think she said something about cleaning up a mess her pup had made after the pup had torn up an entire roll of paper towels. My mom had been at work that day, and when she walked through the door, she said “I expected that you would see this mess, and take care of it!” She was right to say that, as she is my mom… but I also saw this particular situation as not my responsibility because it wasn’t my dog.
This back & forth of vocalizing our expectations actually led to me being thrown out of her house. I was 16. Thankfully, It didn’t leave me homeless, I lived with my dad & I was only there that Friday to visit for the weekend. Long story short, we eventually got over it and had a proper discussion about it.
Now I see the ways I could have handled myself more appropriately. However many, many lessons had to be learned in order for me to see the error in my ways and change my bitter & spiteful attitude. I really should have cleaned up the mess, not because it was her expectation, but because it was the right thing to do.
After all of those lessons, I have learned that I don’t try to teach my children to meet MY expectations. I show them the expectations I have for myself that will hopefully lead to me becoming a better human being, and I openly talk to them about choosing appropriate expectations for themselves as well.
You can always communicate your expectations for the people in your life, but it is still up to that individual to accept those expectations as their own or up to you to find out what expectations they may have already established as their own.
I’m starting this year off by being intentional and realistic with my personal expectations. I will not look to others to meet my expectations because they have their own. If I find myself expecting something from someone I will pull back and readjust my perspective to seek understanding rather than to be let down by unmet expectations. Happy New Year to my beautiful BPD warriors! Let’s expect it to be great!