When I was a little girl I liked to play alone. In my mind, elaborate story lines and characters swirled. The only way they would go exactly as I’d imagined was for me to act it all out on my own with invisible friends.
My little sister didn’t like this arrangement. So, the only way I allowed her to play with me was if she said and did what I told her to. Every word out of her mouth was what I wanted her to say. Whether we were playing with dolls in our room, or running around outdoors playing pirates, she was my puppet.
One day we were sitting on my bed playing with our cabbage patch dolls. My doll said something to her doll and I waited for a reply. My poor sister looked at me helplessly and asked what I wanted her doll to answer. In that moment I realized I didn’t want my perfect stories anymore. I wanted the play to be spontaneous and unpredictable!
I think of this day often. I think of it every time I realize I’m let down, angry or frustrated at another human response (or lack of response) to something I’ve said or done.
Lately I see it all around me unfolding in the story lines of lives intertwined with mine. I see family relationships torn apart, siblings not speaking, children pushing away parents. I see friends pulling away from each other.
Maybe it’s simplistic of me to think it all starts with the common thread of expectation. Maybe it really is that simple.
We expect a very specific response to an email or a text. We have an idea of how a father should always react. We are sure a sister only says certain things. We hold fast to our picture of what real love is and when our love doesn’t match, we rip it apart. We get so wrapped up in our own pre thought out ideas of how everyone else should be acting, that we lose the entire plot.
The plot is, there is no plot.
Without the freedom to be their very own human selves, we actually wouldn’t like our loved ones very much. We would miss the spontaneity it brings to our lives.
So what I’m wondering is if we can try to let go of our expectations? Can we allow our people to be flawed and love them anyway?
Nobody likes to play alone. Not even me.