Friday, October 1, 2010



I’m struggling with expectations. Expectations of myself. Expectations of my kids. Expectations of life in general.

The shit seems to be hitting the fan. I struggle to find some kind of relief from a reality that is very complicated. It’s not like I am looking for some easy answers, or some easy solutions, but would it kill the universe to throw me a bone once in awhile?

It’s funny how easily I can make my life appear to be better than it is. I am either the master of illusion, or the master of denial. This is further complicated by others wanting to believe that life is going my way. Here’s the picture. Dan decided to make a change. How brave. Dan was able to effect a major change, moving his family from San Francisco to San Diego. Dan landed on his feet. Dan decided it was time to look for a job, and quite quickly, Dan found a job. How great is that? Dan has such challenging kids, yet he meets all the demands with such dedication and love. What?

Why is it that my life can look so good to everyone around me? Why is it that my life offers so many people such inspiration?

The truth is that I have all but given up on expecting anything good, or lasting, in life. I have learned to modify my expectations, and to accept the mere morsels that life is willing to throw my way. Life begins to look much better when you have lowered your expectations.

People often talk about not settling when talking about their quest for true love. But what about life in general?

Is it better to lower your expectations so that you can feel like you have been met with some success or happiness? And if you keep lowering your expectations, do you wake up one day to realize that your life is truly shit? Maybe you never realize this, because you have been so good at fooling yourself, and no longer realize that you have settle for a life less extraordinary, or a life less than completely happy.

Do you get the feeling that I am in a bit of a slump? Sometimes I just wake up and realize that I am less than thrilled about life. Sometimes I come through my front door after a day at work, and think to myself, “Fuck, it’s just the same shit again.” I can only kid myself for so long, and then I have to stare straight ahead and see the reality that is my life.

So what exactly am I saying? What do I want from life? What can I reasonably expect from life?

I previously started answering these questions. I tried to find answers in my written responses. Then I read them over again, and thought it was all bull shit, so I deleted all of it. I don't think I am really interested in the answers right now. I am only invested in the questions.

What are my expectations?

What can I really expect from life?


  1. Dan, I don't know if it's the cycle of the moon, or just that we widowed people synch with each other, but it's been one of those weeks for me. It has sucked.
    You ask yourself a couple of very good questions .... ones that we all probably ask ourselves. I wish I could help you with the answers, but hell if I know them for myself.

  2. I don't have any enlightenment either ... but I do know that I get sick of finding myself putting a positive spin on this. There is no positive spin, actually. It's BS.

    But I wonder if when we have black days (blacker than black days)that during those times we forget the better days. But that's probably a load of BS too.

    I remember a colleague commenting that "on the surface you appear to be doing admirably ... what is your coping mechanism?" And I shared with him that I aimed low, so that I didn't feel as though I was failing, and didn't therefore spiral downwards quickly (whilst at work). He laughed and said that it sounded like an effective strategy for desperate and dark times.

    Aiming low, expecting less ... it's another coping mechanism, but it sucks. I really really hope that one day, ONE DAY, NOT YET ... we will have genuinely happy times.

  3. “Fuck, it’s just the same shit again.”

    It's true. We can spin this widowed stuff whichever way we like, but it still comes down to same shit - different package. Having made some pretty radical changes in my life over the past couple of years, I'm frequently struck by that reality. Accomplishments along the moving forward trail seem more like hollow victories. Yeah, I've camped my way back and forth across a continent for two years, sold a farm, moved, and made major repairs to a derelict house, but here I am - alone, and much of the time, still rather sad inside. Yes, I guess I'm sort of okay, but what will it take for life to feel better and for some sense of normalcy to return? I don't know. However, I keep pushing on, with with the (possibly misguided) belief that things will be better some day. I hope they will be for all of us. I do believe that will be the case.

  4. no one can look at another and know how badly they are really feeling. sometimes we write and people comment, "how strong you sound. how great to see you doing better." and we check back and think, "how can they not see how much i hurt?" no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. we can only be shuffled along with time as it passes, living as best as we can. i wish you peace.

  5. I still want to punch people who insist how great my life is going to be - said with all the confidence of someone whose spouse is very much still alive. The reality, for me, is that nothing will ever be as beautiful, or as right, as it was before. Nothing will ever make up for it. Things may be nice, even occasionally beautiful. But the trust and love and faith and goodness I had, knew, believed - that no longer applies. The effort it takes to face life knowing, believing, that the depth of goodness has already been reached, and will not be here that way again. To have been home, and to know you can't ever be there again. That sh*t can never be shined up, no matter what it looks like to anyone else. I don't expect life to be bad, but I no longer expect it to be beautiful, either.

    My folks were in town yesterday, and I could feel them "assessing" how I am - look, she's clean, and dressed, and she ate her food, she talked about something other than matt, and she got through the whole morning without crying. She's healed! Right. I am better at dissociating. People desperately need us to "triumph," and look for any evidence that lets them believe it.

    Anyway, all of this to say, odd as it may be, I don't read your days and think you are well. I read your days and know you are doing the best you can to polish something unpolishable.

  6. right, bev - Hollow Victories.

  7. I read your days and know you are doing the best you can to polish something unpolishable.

    Good way to put it, megan. When I read our posts, I look for signs that we are keeping it together and pushing onwards. That's about all I am asking for in myself. I agree. Friends and family want to see that we were "healed", when all they are really seeing is that we are managing better - and probably getting better at controlling how much of ourselves we wish to put out there in public - and for which part of the public. I have to say that I dislike the whole idea of being "healed". Sounds like some evangelical hogwash to me. I really don't believe these kinds of wounds ever heal. We just learn to compartmentalize their pain. These days, I'm just looking for some quality of life and will go wherever I have to to find it.

  8. Oh. My. God. Nail on the freakin head here Dan. Master of denial/Master of illusion....when you go from sharing life with your soul mate to trying to recreate a life after the death of your soulmate....well....pretty much everything feels like settling. And settling after knowing life's greatest joy...well....that will drive anyone mad.

    Ugh....wishing us all a million frieken bones to be thrown our way.


  9. Another thought-provoking post, thank you. I'm trying to figure out what I can reasonably expect from my life now, and it's hard not to get discouraged and depressed about it. I try to put a positive spin on things, but sometimes I wonder why I bother. It just seems to feed people's false ideas that I'm "fine," so that when I need help and support, I can't find any.

    Fuck, it's just the same old shit again. (I think that's going to be my new phrase of the week.)