Come on in! This is a rare peep behind the scenes. I don’t reveal much about myself often, at least not in this way, but after reading some things I have seen some Facebook friends saying about their ongoing pain from unmet expectations, disappointments, and their emotional struggles, I thought that maybe I should. A bit. Their own confessions seem to be of some help to others, but this post is not even the same category, since it is not an outpouring of angst, but a tale of triumph over my reactions to my disappointed expectations. I generally don’t see how ME sharing this can benefit anyone, and no one has ever seemed to want to listen (that I know of), but I have been wrong before – about a lot of things. We’ll see. At least no one is forced to read this. Meh.
Oddly, in elementary school, I made an OVERT decision to suppress my expectations, primarily because I’d get extremely wound up about holidays and events, then I’d feel let down; I’d also eat stuff that gave me migraines – not fun, either, so I stopped eating certain things and it helped the getting sick part, and moderating expectations helped.
Since I had already begun to approach holidays and celebrations with a new attitude, I then developed a stubborn determination to get past the annual disappointment of the empty, superficial “junk” fed to kids and find the eternal (and truly satisfying) “meat” of the matter which, I found out later, most people don’t really think about until they are much older (3rd grade Me: “What do eggs and bunnies have to do with Easter, anyway?”). I even embarked on childish philosophy when, in 3rd grade I recall telling people my favorite quote was “Expect the worst, then the worst can never happen.” It’s warped logic, I know, but what do you expect from a 3rd grader?
Aside from a 6 year hiatus when we were little, we moved fairly often, so some time in high school I eventually (sort of) gave up any expectation of having/keeping/ever seeing close friends again, since getting close to anyone was slow and difficult – these things take time, and I never really had the time in any one place (and eventually the inclination itself just sort of lost hope) to get past making easy acquaintances. Consequently, I have…not many, plus a small handful of old ones I found on Facebook, but we live far away (my high school was in another country), are not close like we were, and can’t do the things friends do to keep up the relationship (whatever they are).
That “lonely” disappointment is the hardest to deal with, so I make the most of acquaintances or just helping people with information, since I am thick as a brick at knowing when anyone is really interested in pursuing a more substantial friendship, and am nonplussed when it appears they are (“who? Me? Really? Why?”). That’s actually funny, because I could always read any guy’s romantic interest in me to an extremely subtle degree.
Our mobile existence meant we siblings didn’t even see each other much – age differences, frequent social readjustments, school in other countries, and the like – so we rapidly lost the habit of writing (air mail was expensive), or even calling (long distance was also expensive then). However, we love each other and we know it, and seem to have simply accepted it as a part of life. The odd late card, random phone calls, and now Facebook posts and messages, are welcome but not a trigger for recriminations and guilt trips, though I am sure we all secretly dream of something more ideal. Me? I’m just glad I have them because they are family and precious to me, and I cherish the memories I have, especially since my “cousin” circle is tiny. Compounding the family connections problem were several years, mostly effectively “by myself”, in a foreign country, so celebrating holidays and birthdays (including my own), was a habit I lost and has been hard to re-establish.
The disappointment of not being able to make any choice (easy part) and be able to pursue it to fruition without an apparent Divine “Nope. Not this. Door closed.” has been tough, but I don’t expect many people can relate to that. ANYTHING I wanted to happen RARELY did, and after high school graduation absolutely NOTHING (truly!) I planned to do worked out. This upset me since that was NOT the case with anyone else I knew, so I couldn’t even find anyone to commiserate with! When I tried to make plans of any substance there were always immoveable roadblocks and/or dreadful results/consequences of the choice, so I finally stopped fighting or trying (somewhat fatalistically, I’m afraid), threw away my figurative paddles and just hung on for the ride. If I would have sought God’s will or understood that He had a unique path for me, it would have made it much nicer and more interesting, but spiritual counsel was literally hard to come by where I was at the time, so the constant disappointment was always eating at me.
Eventually, with God’s help as I found spiritual guidance, hard-headed realism, a no-nonsense support group, and developed a quirky sense of humor about my life and myself, I accepted the pain, inevitable losses that all people have, and the many disappointments of life (including those I live with even now) as just part of living in a sin-broken world, but one that is not my real Home.
I learned that to dwell on them is just wallowing in self pity, which only repels people, changes nothing, makes you bitter, and could hurt others’ feelings, so I almost never mention (or think of) them. I struggle to even write this much, and I haven’t even touched on deeper, more specific and painful disappointments, and I won’t (see the first sentence of this paragraph).
Some people are disappointed with where their life is and find nostalgia an easy escape. I not only don’t dwell on the past, I don’t even indulge in ANY form of nostalgia – I can’t (won’t?) relate to it because it is ultimately a false memory that can make one’s current life seem depressing and painful, so I avoid it like a hot burner.
I have lost people, pets, places, and lots of things (many of great value) , but I am so grateful for what I have now that there is no disappointment or bitterness there at all. Call me Pollyanna, if you wish, but I am truly glad at how things have worked out, with time, maturity and my Lord’s help.
It is all behind me! Hallelujah!
Instead, through Divine appointments with people and places, acquaintances and friends-at-the-time, prayer, and seeking the One (Jesus) who is always there, I am grateful for what I have now, what God brings every day, to release any bitterness (it’s called forgiveness), and to take pleasure in every little thing, no matter what I wish was different.
Not that I don’t have worries or anxieties, but now I have a peace that doesn’t make sense and JOY! I live in His present and look forward to my future that He holds in His hands; I do not fear, for He is already there.
Goodbye now, my friends, I now return to my usual style.