Don’t Raise The Bridge, Lower Your Expectations Of The River

Why Raise The Bridge Expectations Of River

You may find that recovery road is every bit as lonely as the road to ruin; but do not let this deter you. It all comes back to expectations, if you don’t expect a parade you can’t be disappointed when the boulevard is empty and there is no confetti in the air.

“Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?” Taz Mopula

Naturally, the mentally ill don’t really expect effusive gratitude and praise as they traipse the corridors of deserted carnival funhouses at night, staring into mirrors carefully constructed to distort reality in countless ways. We don’t expect it because we don’t think about others at all, much less how they perceive us; the solitary cul-de-sac we inhabit is world enough.

“For the sake of convenience be your own best friend. It’s always easy to get in touch with you.” Taz Mopula

The same applies for those of us who drink alcoholically, or take drugs – we may have some awareness of how our behavior torments others but in the end, who cares? The hungers of a callous demon, residing within a Byzantine labyrinth of twisted emotions, take precedence over all else.

“Before you learn to run you learn to walk; before that you learn to fall on your face, crawl, and summon the grit to get up.” Taz Mopula

The luckiest among us begin a journey away from the dark and into the light, and in so doing, develop improved self-esteem. (Some folks even dislocate their shoulders as they enthusiastically pat themselves on the back.)

“Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.” Taz Mopula

In the fellowship one often encounters newly sober individuals who express disappointment because they are not getting the recognition they feel is appropriate. Happily, there is usually an old-timer nearby to ask them why they expect praise for doing what they should have been doing all along.

“Entitlement is a fraudulent concept. We are none of us entitled to anything. Even that next breath you crave is a gift.” Taz Mopula

Whether it’s mental illness you battle, or addiction – or, as is the case for so many of us, both – it pays to remember that you are doing it for yourself. You are changing, the people around you may not be, worse still, they may be heavily invested in having things stay just as they’ve always been.

“Looking for self-worth in someone else’s eyes is like trying to breathe with someone else’s lungs.” Taz Mopula

They may love you as a loser and fear, even despise, you as a winner. It is not unknown for friends and family members to actively undermine recovery, or at the very least, attempt to belittle, or negate, it. Do not judge your progress according to the presence or absence of brass bands.

“There is only one truly authentic way to enjoy success; that is by remaining indifferent to it.” Taz Mopula

Let Christmas Expectations Fall Like Snow

Christmas Trees Snow

Have you heard this one already? Three clinically depressed highjumpers walk into a bar. They lower it.

I’m kidding of course.

Then again, I’m not kidding, (as always), because if there is anything that will help today’s mentally ill individual survive the three-ring-circus of psychological torment and emotional Armageddon known by that deceptively sweet euphemism – the holidays – it is lowered expectations.

Why? With every layer of tinsel, every rehashed Christmas chestnut mangled by Beyoncé, every eggnog-infused martini, every promise of no money down and no payments for the first seventeen months, every drug-addled midnight greeter at Walmart scratching his most recent tattoo, every ill-considered fax at every office party, and every other cliché of Christmas cacophony and tintinnabulation comes the rising tide of truly ho-ho-horrible inevitability – the hopes, the joys, the fears of all the years, reindeer and pain dear – that Grinch-ish thief of all that is merry; expectations.

Those of us who have mucked out a foxhole or two after the elves have returned to their elf-help groups, leaving only ripped wrapping paper and the unnerving sound of gnashing teeth, know only too well that – an expectation is merely a resentment that has been booked in advance.

We watch the lemming-like inevitability of shoppers who resemble nothing more closely than poor Charlie Brown looking far across the yard at the relentlessly malevolent Lucy finger pointing down at the poised and ready football, believing deep within that dimwitted, soft-boiled egg of a head he has that this time it will be different.

Sadly, it never is. Fellow Whackadoomians, examine the terrible trap we must sidestep. Because it is the Santa-bag of expectations we bring with us – not the event itself – that causes our undoing.

Week after week, the entire culture conspires to deceive; is it any wonder we question reality itself and struggle to differentiate between what is, what might be, and what could be if only we had been less naughty and more nice throughout the year?

The entire communications infrastructure which now extends to gas pumps, check out lines in supermarkets, phones, rented movies, in short, everything we encounter in our daily lives, stokes the id until it roars like a voracious furnace – wanting, craving, needing and hungering for a mountain of flashy, splashy landfill-food made in China and destined for a useful life so short it would inspire pity in a drosophila before vanishing out the back end of our consumer economy. It all happens in the bat of an eye.

It was the redoubtable Taz Mopula who warned, “If I could give you just one piece of advice it would be this; do not, under any circumstances, take my advice.” In this spirit I will say that I would not presume to give you advice and if I did you would almost certainly not take it but if I did and if you did this is what it would be:

Want to enjoy your holiday? Do some Christmas triage. Ratchet down the level of your expectations to zero and start there.

The Best Present Ever

Share Your Self Unavailable Elsewhere

They say that, for alcoholics in recovery, every morning is Christmas morning and every evening is Thanksgiving. If that sounds like a wonderful way to live, trust me, it is. We start the day delighted – even amazed – to have a day at all, and close it out in humble gratitude – no matter the challenges rained down upon us.

Christmas – that Winter Wonderland of Dysfunction – that Tournament of Neuroses parade – is fueled by an intense concentration of wildly unrealistic expectations arising from what we hope to get and what we believe we must deliver. Resentments fly and pressure mounts – those of us still drinking enter a hideous, toxic fog from which we emerge only after the last dreary scrap of cretinous Super Bowl commentary has been shared.

The best policy regarding gifts is – assume you will not get any – concentrate your energies on giving them routinely – with no quo on the quid’s other side. 

(This mirrors your reality, since you receive gifts daily which are offered with no expectation of return.) 

One of the reasons Christmas is the most dreaded and despised time of the year is that presents – things – are expected to redeem a year of disappointment. This is a curious bit of idiocy, one wonders how it can survive.

When you give, give of yourself. As the great Taz Mopula reminds us:

“Give yourself. That is the only present you can give that is not readily available elsewhere.” 

Give little gifts every day; don’t focus on one behemoth at the glittery time of year to save a lost cause.