Curse of Expectation

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.


  1. Do they still count as unfulfilled dreams if they were never your dreams but other people's ?

    I can relate - I walked out of university two thirds of the way through the first year . My family still ( 15 years on ) will say sentences starting with " she'd could have been (insert high paying job)

    Trifle annoying I must say

    I don't think I would have worked well in the whole structured 9-5 thing so it's for the best

  2. Sure Ms Kay, I get it too.
    Especially "Remember little Johnny Palepenny - he's made partner now - if only you...." and it trails off

  3. As they say, "Success is the best revenge". You get to define your own success and now that you're sober you're able to achieve that success in glorious fashion. So give them all the middle finger salute is what I say.

  4. I like to think we are spiritual creatures having a physical experience. The material things (the career and such) are just 'things' not the crux of what is most important. It is your spiritual journey; and you had to go that course to get to where you are now.

    Physically we do have to work to have food; shelter; etc... and it does mean we are emotionally mature to do so; .. but secondary.

    Stay the course now....!!! (and do not compare; they say in Al-Anon to Compare is to dispare (sp?) .. so who cares who had more and their physical quality of life. I know as a man in society that can be even rough; the comparision.. but no it is not true.

    I'm reading A Course in Miracles; and most things are an Illusion; thing men (meaning men or women) built up due to the ego).

    I play the game. i work. i own a house since i had 3 children to shelter etc. But I always felt it was just a game. Money is an Illusion. The Economy too. We could still do work; build homes; hospital etc without this thing called $$.

    You enjoy where you are NOW. STay PRESENT. Read Eckhart Tolle books. He is not a guru. He is just a cool guy to read about staying in the NOW.

  5. How is Johnny Palepenny really? You could be a highpowered lawyer, stressed to the max, not sleeping, overweight and drinking heavily. A high functioning alcoholic. How many of those are there in our society?

    Success is very hard to measure. Is success a highpowered job, a big car, fancy suits? Or it living in a house with a happy settled vibe, sleeping well at night and looking after yourself and others. Expectations be damned.

    Looking back is so tricky. I think back to me limping through my last year of high school, getting kicked out of prizegiving for being drunk. I feel so sad for that bright faced girl whose parents had taken their eye off the ball because of their own dramas.

    But then I think - here I am now! Doing something brave and amazing, as you are (and you've really done it, over 200 days, I'm jealous!).

    So go back mentally and stop that guy as he walks to the building to withdraw from his courses and give him a quick hug and whisper in his ear; "it's ok buddy, you're going to get through, I'll see you right".

    Coz you did.


  6. never expect any thing from others because it always hurt and provide a great damage.
    thanks for the sharing.

  7. Thanks for sharing this! I've got the same thing going on from time to time. I too quit university, about 6 months before I would have had a masters degree. I quit because of depression, or so I thought. I just let it all slide, and I was drinking more than before. It was before alcohol really took its hold, but the pattern was there already. Sometimes I think back on that with great regret, not because I crushed someone elses expectations, but my own. I'm doing another degree now, at my own pace, and I know that as long as I don't pick up a drink I can pursue my dreams. It's not always easy going but at least I have a second chance...

  8. Is such a great way to vent issues on a blog!

    It's like each post is me lying there on the leather whimpering to some shrink about my childhood.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  9. Oh I so feel you here. Couldn't even know where to begin so I won't as you've done a bang-up job of doing most of it for me.

    peace, love and happiness...



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