When I was a kid they had high expectations for me. You probably know the stereotype; immigrant Irish, thick-fingered father and doting, over protective mother? I showed potential and studied harder than the other kids and was groomed for university and a professional career. Even got academic entry to a boarding school. Then won a place in law school.
Before long, I allowed my preference for drinking and drugs to flourish and soon after allowed depression to fester. I chose not to pursue my degrees. I stepped off of the career conveyor belt into the unknown.
Now, at 37 and 218 days into sobriety, I am able to take stock of where I am at and take full responsibility for my life, and the decisions I have made. It is just where I am at. And it feels pretty fucking good!
But still, there are times when it feels like I should have been something else or that my life is not as good as it might have been. Like I have somehow not lived up to expectation. Expectations of family and peers - that I should have turned out as some sort of career professional at some point. And that any shortcomings or misgivings in my life are a result of that. Like I cannot go back and change what I decided, but that the present situation all stems back to those fateful decisions.
Expectations can be a curse you live with, popping up in the back of your mind at the worst possible times for the rest of your life. Like even today, when a certain thing happens in my business life I can think to myself about what I could have been or what I am not and criticize myself for it. Like the wishes and urging of others was right and what I knew I wanted for myself was wrong.
It is a terrible cancer of self-doubt and analysis paralysis. I catch myself thinking a key moment in my university career over and again as though it is chiselled in stone. The point where, when I was simply exhausted and strung out from drink and drugs and I made the walk to the building to withdraw from the courses.
It is a curse of failure and missing out and not getting the job done. And although it truly was the right decision, and has led me to discover so much about myself, it lingers as a black curse over me. The curse of expectation. Of unfulfilled dreams of others and all that shit.
So my recovery, and my sobriety is to finally settle that curse. To extinguish it and eradicate it from my mental library. It is no longer a key feature of my life montage. It is an episode, or a chapter, for sure, but it not the defining moment.
The curse is now lifted.