I grew up expecting that I’d get married and live happily ever after, but my marriage ended before happily ever after arrived. I expected that I’d become a best-selling author, but my books never made the New York Times list. I expected to fall in love and remarry one day, but here I am, still single. So many of my expectations in life didn’t happen. Years ago, I’d have sought refuge in a few glasses of red wine at night to soothe my disappointment and resentments. I didn’t have many coping skills to deal with life when it didn’t go my way. Thank God, that’s changed. Now I know how to let go of my expectations so that I can live life on life’s terms and have peace and serenity. I share my perspective in hopes that it helps you to have more peace and serenity too, even in benzo withdrawal!
When we expect life (people, places, and things) to be a certain way, we set ourselves up for disappointment and resentment. We are not in control of most things that happen in life, so it’s pointless for us to pin our happiness on our expectations. That’s not to say that we should become couch potatoes and never have dreams or goals. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that to be emotionally upset over not getting our way isn’t good for us. When we learn to let go and live life on life’s terms, which is to practice acceptance, we have more energy left to expend on the things that we do have some control over.
When I was in the benzo withdrawal I didn’t expect to suffer bad withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t expect to take longer than six months to heal. I didn’t expect to lose my career and my life’s savings. I didn’t expect to have a life that was completely unrecognizable! But that was what I goThe only way to minimize my suffering was to accept that I was benzo sick and I had a long road ahead to recovery. I had to accept my symptoms and get on with my life within my new parameters. I didn’t always do a good job with acceptance; it was a learning curve. But the more I practiced, the better I got. As I learned to let go of my expectations and live my life on life’s terms, I found that I was getting really good at living in the moment. I stopped looking over my shoulder and regretting my past, and I stopped time traveling into the future and worrying about things that had not yet taken place. When I let go of my expectations, I felt more peace and serenity.
Many of my clients tell me, “I’ll be happy when XYZ symptom goes away.” I used to think like that, too. However, I squandered so much potential happiness by being resentful of what life had handed me that I learned to be happy even with my benzo withdrawal symptoms. I found that one of the best tools for happiness is to practice gratitude. I learned to say “Thank you!” for everything. Yes, you read that right. Everything. I decided that I wasn’t in charge of the universe and I had no way to know what the reasons were for things happening. I decided to let go and to let God as I understand God, be in charge. When I did, I breathed a sigh of relief! No longer did I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. No longer did I have to control people, places, or things. I could accept the events in my life without allowing them to knock me over. (Translation, I didn’t need a drink or a benzo to cope!)
Letting go of our expectations and allowing life to unfold on its own terms is powerful medicine. Let go of your expectations and the disappointment and resentments that come when they aren’t met. There is incredible power in letting go of expectations. It sets you free to be at peace. And who can’t use more peace in their lives?
The Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.