Disappointment. I think it is such a harsh sounding word. Considering what it means, I guess that is expected. Partly due to my ADHD and Anxiety, and partly due to life, I suppose, I’ve always felt I disappoint people. I always felt not good enough, like I wasn’t doing enough, like I could be better, different, nicer, tougher, more compassionate, more giving, more kind, more anything other than what I was. I’ve disappointed my share of people, or else I believe I have.
Even worse, is how often I disappoint myself. I long to be more open, more relaxed, more easy-going. That isn’t going to happen. I’ve accepted my anxiety. I will always be social-phobic. I will always be wound too tight. I will always be awkward and weird. I will always be an extreme introvert. But I’m okay with that. I’m tired of apologizing for the way I’m made. I’m tired of telling myself that I should be different than I am.
The road to acceptance is a long and arduous journey. At least it was/is for me. I’m not there yet. I don’t know that anyone can ever completely be there. At least not if they are honest. I don’t know anyone who is honest with themselves that will say they are ALWAYS 100% sure of themselves or that they NEVER care what someone else thinks. I didn’t like myself for the longest time. I hated everything about myself. Now I look back and I think how ridiculous that was. I was my own worst enemy. I was the one that held me back. I didn’t try things because I knew I’d be no good at it. I kept people at arms length because I didn’t know how to share myself with them, I was afraid if they knew me they weren’t going to like me. Opening up was difficult at best. It’s still difficult. But that’s okay.
I’ve been told that once my daughter leaves home I will be alone and lonely because I don’t have a social network. I don’t have people I hang out with, or belong to clubs or groups. The person that told me this was supposed to be someone that knew me well. But the more I think about the things she always told me, the more I realize she was basing her “warnings” on her own life. She never did understand that I am perfectly content on my own. I don’t need that active social life. I don’t need book clubs or knitting clubs or whatever. She was basing her predictions of my future on what she needed in her own life, not what I needed in mine. She used to “worry” that I was too close to my daughter, that I was dependent on her. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. Will I be sad when my daughter is older and moves on to follow her own dreams? Of course i will. What mother doesn’t shed a tear when their child is off to college, or the military, or moves into their first apartment? It will be an adjustment, but more than anything I want to raise a daughter that wants to follow her dreams. I want her to be self sufficient. I want her to explore the world and see everything she can. I’m not afraid of being alone. I have hobbies. I have interests. And I do have a few friends.
Part of me would get upset when this friend would think she knew what I was thinking, or what I meant by something I said, when I knew she was very, very far off base. I would try to explain and she would brush me off, telling me to stop explaining, she got it. But she didn’t. Any friends I have ever had were strong personalities. It balanced my own quiet, introverted personality. But sometimes, we choose a boisterous personality because it eclipses our own. We choose friends that overshadow us, that hide us, that are much larger than we are. It’s a safe hiding place for social phobic, introverts like me. When “that” friend is around no one notices us.
The thing is, any of our friends have the power to disappoint us, the same as we have the power to disappoint them. Sometimes you disappoint each other at the same time. Sometimes you can move on, and sometimes it becomes a big deal, a wedge that grows in your friendship until you are wondering what made you friends in the first place. You start looking at them in a new light, much as we look at an ex spouse, wondering what you saw in them in the first place. It’s sad. Sometimes you realize that you’ve nothing in common and all you can do is move on.
I’ve had this happen on several occasions, sometimes with someone that hadn’t been a part of my life very long, and once or twice with someone who had been a big part of my life for a very long time. Sometimes people just grow apart. In the past, I always assumed full responsibility. I knew that if I’d been a better friend, if I didn’t have so many hang ups, if I wasn’t so uptight, or whatever, that friends wouldn’t drift away. Now I can look at it a bit more objectively. I don’t regret the people who came into my life (most of them anyway), but it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person if we grow apart. It happens. Yes, friendship is worth fighting for, but sometimes, you have to take stock and you realize that sometimes it’s okay to let it go.
I’ve been hurt. I’ve been misunderstood. I’ve had friends who were being utterly ridiculous about something that they got angry about. I’ve had friends who were selfish and petty. The thought I hate most, is that sometimes people thought those same things of me. I’ve never been those things on purpose. I always have a reason for doing what I do, and if I’ve disappointed someone, or appeared selfish or thoughtless, it was never intentional. But I’ve made mistakes. Of course I have. We all do.
It hurts when our friends don’t get us. It hurts when they run over our feelings, or act petty or selfish. But it hurts when we do the same to ourselves. I’ve learned over the years that although I am certainly capable of messing things up and hurting someone, that I had to stop taking responsibility when someone else did it it me. I had to stop feeling guilty when someone hurt me. I had to love myself enough to be able to look at a situation and know that if I’m not at fault, then there was nothing I could do. I can’t stop what they are thinking. I can’t change their actions. I can’t apologize it away because apologizing and accepting responsibility for something I didn’t do, doesn’t strengthen a friendship. It just makes sure that you are always the one that is doing all the apologizing and all the regretting. That’s not where I want to be anymore. I don’t want to keep friends by letting them run over me. I don’t want friends that can’t apologize or accept their own wrongdoing. That’s not very healthy.
Sometimes people disappoint you, and sometimes they won’t bother to make it right. That’s okay. Sometimes I will disappoint people and I will be too clueless about what I did to make it right, but if they point out what I did to hurt them, then I will do whatever I can to make it better. Sometimes we have to choose our priorities and sometimes others won’t get that. Their priorities aren’t the same as yours so they don’t understand. That’s okay. But don’t apologize for making your own priorities. Don’t apologize for doing what you know is the right thing. Life is full of tough choices, or choices that aren’t going to be popular with someone else. That’s okay. We make our own decisions based on what we have to do.
I’ve been disappointed, and I learned to move on. I’ve discovered that worse than being disappointed by someone I cared about, is to disappoint myself. I have to trust myself, and live my life according to my rules, not what someone else thinks I should be.
I told someone once that I didn’t put my trust in too many people because people disappoint you. And even though I was angry when I said that, I suppose it’s true. I’ve placed my trust in the wrong people far too many times. I didn’t want to live a life where I was cynical. I wanted to believe the best in people. I tried to find good traits in even the worst of people. That’s not a bad thing, but I certainly don’t give my trust so freely any more.
Life is a learning experience. I want to embrace it, I want to enjoy it, I want to be grateful and thankful and do good where I can. I don’t want to wallow in disappointment or obsess about what I could have done differently in any situation. I want a life filled with joy. I am willing to fight my ADHD as well as my anxiety to have it. But I’m no longer willing to compromise myself to search for it, looking in all the wrong places. It’s within. It always has been.
I received a six word email the other day that changed my perspective. I dwelt on that email for several days, obsessing, fretting, wondering, and then, instead of beating the dead horse, I took a deep breath and deleted it. I let it go. Were there things I wanted to say? Did I feel the urge to respond pulling me with the force of the tide? Of course I did. Then I realized that I cannot make my reality someone else’s. It was all so pointless.
I am the only one that will not disappoint me. The list of people I trust may be very small, but that’s okay. I do have people in my life that I know are here for me no matter what. Even when I’m stupid. And people who don’t think I’m being stupid when I think I am. 😉 I am grateful for those people. The ones who accept me for who I am, and wont’ try to change me into something else. Those are the people worth keeping.
Life is hard. We don’t always know what to do, and I certainly don’t have the answers. I’m just one person learning what works for me. I am chaotic, nervous, anxious, scattered, tense and afraid. I’m straight laced and conservative. But I’m also creative, kind, compassionate, understanding and forgiving.
I have been my own worst enemy, but times are changing.