December 2, 2020

A Tool for when our Unrealistic Expectations hurt our Lives & Relationships.

I had never heard of maitri before I took my writing class.

What the hell is maitri? I wondered, upon hearing it for the first time.

I like myself already. I don’t have time to go down the “maitri” street. I’m here to learn writing, not look at myself. C’mon, teach me sentence structure, some grammar, when to use effect or affect, how to write a quote within a quote, sheesh—let’s get going. Don’t you understand, I’ve only got so much time here? I want to learn what I want to learn, dammit.

However, with repeated, gentle, kind definitions of maitri, my interest piqued. My eyes opened—wide. For years, I’ve known the harsh expectations I’ve had of myself and, unfortunately, of others around me. And it wasn’t good—sometimes, it was ugly. There were thwarted good intentions and anxiety-producing disappointment in myself, and in others, too.

Most prominent was my inability to relax.

Yet, get me out of the house and away from the responsibilities of a home—the laundry washed, folded (with no edges showing), and put away; dishes stacked in the cupboard like a Williams-Sonoma store; silverware nested neatly; furniture polished; carpets vacuumed; floors mopped; toilets cleaned and Cloroxed; beds made (pillowcases and top half of flat sheet ironed); birdhouses cleaned daily (I don’t call them cages, how insulting for my pets); heat/AC filters replaced; bathtubs and sinks clean with polished fixtures—and what? Get me out of the house, and I could relax? Hardly.

But, oh my god, I’m exhausted just listing it all. I’m not kidding. When I was new to the neighborhood, unbeknownst to me, I was called the “Party Perfect Lady in the white corner house.” Help!

I used to look at my then-husband, as he sat and read the newspaper on a Saturday morning or watched TV most evenings after work, and think to myself, “How the hell can he sit there and relax, engaged in an activity of doing nothing? Hell, the lawn needs to be mowed, the bushes need trimming, the garage is disorganized, the car oil needs to be changed.” Er—you get it, right?

After my divorce, this harsh treatment of myself only exacerbated: excel at work, go to college, raise kids as a single mother, keep the house up, groceries and meals, travel to see my parents. I couldn’t fail.

I was setting an example for my kids—talk about placing expectations on a kid! And for other young women—I wanted to prove you can have it all. Well, bullsh*t. Something always suffers. Many things suffer, regardless of all your efforts. I missed attaining Summa Cum Laude for college graduation by two-tenths of one point, forced to settle with Magna Cum Laude. It’s kinda bugged me ever since.

Not today, though. Honestly, I’ve let it go.

Who the hell cares anyway? Dust—my dining hutch has seeable dust! I have dirty dishes in my sink. My bed isn’t made. Such horrors!

My desire to explore maitri grew as I grew with the writing class. At first, I couldn’t pay too much attention to it. I believed I didn’t “have time.” But my interest continued to blossom. And through interacting with other apprentice writers, and in listening to Waylon and the Elephant Journal staff who were steeped in maitri, I eventually knew I was hooked. I’ve started to read more about it, and I’ve found my way back to meditation. So, when Maitri was offered with a discount, poof. I’m on it, signed up, and ready to go—I owe this to myself.

I’ve opened my heart and soul to becoming the best friend I can have.

I am willing to expose the parts of myself I’m not proud to share. I am excited. I’m on a new journey with a new friend. I may be taking baby steps, but I am embracing maitri. I’m on my way. Relaxation has already begun. Oh, the places I’ll go!

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