Friday, December 24, 2010

Changing Expectations of Christmas

It’s Christmas, that most wonderful time of the year, so it’s prime time for me to get my fretting and angst going full speed. It’s the perfect time to set unrealistic expectations and make false assumptions.

For holidays when I was gainfully employed I worried about getting time off, I worried about getting called in, I worried about who we were going to spend the holiday with, I worried about people liking the gifts I had chosen, I worried about getting and paying for the gifts; all really important stuff if your life is normal.

Our new life dictates an entirely different set of concerns. Today, with Marty, I’m mostly focused on how she feels, to the point where she accuses me of being just a tad bit hyper vigilant. Yes, that pretty well paints my picture; I’m on point like a German short hair.

The new Christmas worry, dictated by the strokes, is will we get through the holiday without a medical issue, will we make it through the celebration without an anxiety driven meltdown by me or a real medical crisis by Marty. The holidays, especially the primo holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are just ripe for me to obsess about Marty’s health, especially since we actually have things we really want to do. When you then realize the doctors’ are not available it ratchets up the anxiety meter even higher.

I also find myself worrying about fulfilling our family’s expectations by being at all or some of the family functions. We want to be with them enjoying family warmth but we never know what might keep us from making a trip or hosting an event, this is when the whole living day to day thing gets harder.

I also worry about meeting our own expectations desires. We both want to be a part of the celebration in as many ways as practical without exhausting both of us. I love taking Marty places and doing things with her and I think she really enjoys being in the thick of the holiday chaos, but it takes a lot of energy for both of us and there is a fine line between exhausting and enjoyment.

Since the strokes we have missed some holiday celebrations, we have missed some birthdays, we have missed part of the ebb and flow of life. Since the strokes we have needed to adjust our expectations but it is especially hard this time of year to make that adjustment. Feeling separate from the happiness of special times is one of the hazards of our life, it just is. We don’t choose it, we just live through it remembering there are many days in a life and real happiness comes when most of those days are good.

It really does come down to setting appropriate expectations. It really does come down to establishing reasonable preconceived notions of how things “should be.” Take for instance this recent conversation I had with Marty while sitting watching some inane television show. It’s a perfect example of expectations gone awry.

Without looking at her, I say, “Marty, I really love you.”

“I love you too, a lot.”

“I love you more than you love me, “I answered, playing the I love you more game, fully expecting, fully assuming she would come back with the appropriate, “No, I love you more.”

“I bet you do,” she says, never taking her eyes off the TV.

Flummoxed, I just sat there for a minute and started to laugh. “That’s not what you’re supposed to say.”

She laughs a bit and said, “I know.”

You have to watch out for expectations because everything changes, even sweet nothi

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