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DISAPPOINTMENT

Disappointment in life is a given. It is as predictable as the pull of the tides, ebbing and flowing through our lives. Not only are we ourselves constantly disappointed, we are constantly disappointing others as well.

Like everyone else ever born, I was often disappointed when I was a kid. I felt let down by people or circumstances whenever things didn’t go the way I expected them to. If Christmas came and went and I didn’t get the gift I had prayed for, I felt completely and utterly crushed.

I remember one Christmas in particular when I’d been made to feel entirely left out. It is not a feeling I wish on anyone. I was old enough to understand that Santa wasn’t real but young enough to not fully understand exactly how it all worked.

Early that morning, I sat hopeful and still, patiently waiting for my name to be called out and be passed a gift to while watching the enormous stack of gifts be whittled away at until there was nothing left under the tree and nothing there for me. To say that I was disappointed would have been the understatement of the year.

And I was not alone. Another of my sisters had been left out too. I remember wondering what the hell was going on. What had we done that year that was so bad to warrant us not getting a single gift?

Eventually, once the excitement of the morning had worn off, my mother must have seen the devastated looks on our faces and realized was what was going on because before we knew what was happening she flew down the stairs into the cellar with my father and lo and behold they emerged with an entire box of forgotten presents for my sister and me.

Christmas was saved, but I will never forget the feeling I had that morning, that I was being punished for something I didn’t know I had done.

Throughout my childhood, I was often punished for things I didn’t do which only made me want to do them more if I was going to be punished for them anyway.

It was deeply disappointing not being trusted when I had told the truth. It made me feel like my honesty didn’t matter.

In some ways writing this blog has me feeling the same way lately. With each new post, I am peeling back the layers of my life and revisiting the stories I have been telling myself forever, and much like peeling away the layers of an onion, in the process, I’ve made myself and others cry. I have inadvertently caused people pain that I never intended to inflict.

When searching for long-buried parts of myself, I am forced to shine a light into the dark, exposing some things in the process that did not sign up to be seen. I guess that sometimes happens when you search hard enough for something. There is risk involved that you may not be aware of before you begin.

I began this blog to sort through my stories. I will be turning fifty at the end of this year, and I want very much to put the painful parts of my past back where they belong – in the past – so that I can move forward with a clean slate. But as this process unfolds, I’m beginning to realize I was also trying to find something I didn’t initially know I was searching for.

I had already written a dozen posts to this blog by the time I finally heard from my intended audience. (That my parents were my intended audience was a recent revelation to me.) During all that time – twelve weeks – I tried to remain patient. I tried making valid excuses for them. I tried not to take it personally.

But the longer I went without hearing from them, the more I began to realize just how much I’d been desperately seeking their validation. Though if someone were to have told me that before I began this, I would have argued that had nothing to do with it.

I had invited them both to read my blog repeatedly. I emailed them and called them (yes, I did pick up the phone – http://relishyourstory.com/courage/ ) and even gifted them a copy of Consolations. I essentially told them they had front row seats reserved for them. But after finally sitting through the opening scene, they not so politely got up and left the building.

I was accused of intentionally hurting someone that I love very much, and no amount of explaining would suffice. The verdict was in. I was guilty. The sentence that was handed down was as unjust as it was predictable.

I was informed by my parents in a letter that after reading only a couple of my posts, they had had enough and had no wish to continue reading into the future.

Once again I was being punished for something I could argue I didn’t do, and in the process, I had given them the excuse they needed to stop reading.

The very thing I didn’t realize I had been searching for, would likely never be found. I would never be seen and understood by them, which is ironic since the only post that I am sure that they both read – my first post ALONE  http://relishyourstory.com/alone/  divulged how I had felt invisible for much if not all of my life.

I was incredibly disappointed. I did not think my expectations were unrealistic. I had waited my entire life to be this candid and was rewarded for my efforts with further exile.

I was wounded, and I began to question whether or not to continue writing, whether or not to continue to risk further alienation or throw in the towel and call it quits.

“The great question in disappointment is whether we allow it to bring us to ground, to a firmer sense of our self, a surer sense of our world, and what is good and possible for us in that world, or whether we experience it only as a wound that makes us retreat from further participation.” – David Whyte Consolations 

Then something amazing happened. Within only a moment or two after reading their letter, a tremendous sense of peace washed over me. I didn’t need to retreat to lick my wounds because without my even knowing it those wounds had already healed. Maybe it was the act of writing it down. Of releasing it in these blog posts along with all the pain that had accompanied it for so long.

My mother’s words ended up being a gift to me. She had inadvertently validated my feelings of being invisible, and the effect was terrifically freeing. Her gift gave me the courage I needed to keep going. It gave me a firmer sense of myself and my place in the world and reminded me of all the good that was still possible to achieve.

“The measure of our courage is the measure of our willingness to embrace disappointment, to turn towards it rather than away, the understanding that every real conversation of life involves having our hearts broken somewhere along the way and that there is no sincere path we can follow where we will not be fully and immeasurably let down and brought to earth, and where what initially looks like a betrayal, eventually puts real ground under our feet.” – David Whyte Consolations 

My parents had broken my heart. The disappointment I felt was palpable. I was fully and immeasurably let down. But I embraced it with very little effort when I realized it had taken much more of an effort to keep the charade going for so long.

“Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expect to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming and strangely, in the end, more rewarding.” – David Whyte Consolations 

I know my parents love me and I know they know I love them. Nothing they could ever do or not do could ever change that. We all strive to do the best that we can with what we are given.

I was given a roof over my head and a quality education and a warm bed and clean clothes and homecooked meals every day. I was given love and support from my parents and my entire family. And I was given a voice that has remained silent for far too long.

I am trying hard to rid myself of any expectations on how this blog is received or what good it could do in the world.

But I am tired of being punished for something I didn’t do and more determined than ever to continue doing it if I will be punished for it anyway.

I know for certain that no matter how terrible and painful your story, there’s always something to be grateful for, always something to be relished.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

 

NEXT WEEK: FORGIVENESS

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

2 Replies

  1. BettyAnn

    I am so glad you will continue to write. I look forward to Mondays now just for your latest post. Your courage and insight is an inspiration to me in my own journey.
    Love you, BA

    1. That means so much to me. It is what keeps me going 🙂 Thank you! Love you, too!

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