What Are You Doing?
I am fucking feeling...and eating berry salad. At my kitchen table. Listening to Taylor - attempting to feel what it is that I feel. Not what I think or what I think I should do. What I FEEL...
Anger - no.
Despair - kinda.
Hold on I have to go look up other feelings...
Affectionate - Definitely not.
Afraid - sort of...
Agitated - uh huh.
Alarmed - yes.
Anxious - fuck yes.
Annoyed - yes mostly with myself.
Ashamed - fuck...yes I feel that too.
Betrayed - yes.
Calm - Ummmm, no.
Comfortable - fuck no.
Confused - all the damn time.
Courageous - nope.
Disappointed - BINGO!
There it is...in a list I found on the internet for kids to help them label their feelings. I feel disappointed. And I realize in admitting my disappointment, I have been running from this the whole of my life.
I have made so many excuses for you, lifted your spirits, engaged in ridiculous escapades to delude myself that disappointment was what I felt, I have granted passes, I have denied, omitted, abandoned myself repeatedly because I did not want to feel the disappointment I felt in the way you treated me. Or didn’t, perhaps some of this disappointment comes from all the things you didn’t do when you could have. Told me I was too demanding when I literally ask for almost nothing. Am terrified to bring up a need, after denying that I had that same need forever, worked really fucking hard to NOT have a need because if I didn’t need then you couldn’t let me down...again.
But there it is on the screen - available for all to see. Available for children, small beings who are just a jumble of atoms and skin, finding the way the world works, disappointment has been available to them, to claim as their own. To own and come to know better. And here I am, a grown, well grown women of some years and as I read the word off the screen, it mocked me. Like a bully on the playground, daring me to come closer to it, pick it up, allow it access to me.
Most times I ran. Far and fucking fast. But today, I am feeling oddly bold and so I moved closer to that looming brute of a word, causing me untold amounts of shame and fear and I just owned that I am disappointed in a great number of people and in life.
My grandmother was oft to say, “I have never met a man that didn’t let me down...” And she would be correct. But that seems like too low a bar. People (men are people last time I checked) are going to disappoint you. And I know my grandmother to be a smart and wise woman, so she too knew this. I think what she was really saying was that men who were supposed to love her, protect her, cherish her, be kind to her, not abuse her, were not. They were supremely disappointing in ways and manners that someone in a close intimate relationship with someone should not let the other down.
The words I love you contain a promise, one that often goes unheeded and misused. Implicit in every “I love you” is a promise that I will do my best not to let you down. When you are sad, I will be there for you. When you are called out of town for a family emergency, I will watch your cat for you instead of what else I might have planned. I will be honest with you so that you can come to rely upon my word and trust my deed. So that when those times inevitably come, where I am not able to do what I said I would do, you will know that without a doubt, I would have if I could have. I didn’t get a better offer, or meet someone better. Because I love you, I show up for you, I give of myself. I go without so that you may prosper if your need be greater and more vital.
So what to do with disappointment - as it seems it is inevitable. I think, at least that is what is hitting me right now, is that we allow the experience of disappointment to be counted and weighed. How many times has this person let you down? Do you doubt their word as soon as they utter it? Is disappointment a feeling that is familiar to this person, this place or this relationship...
If the answer is yes, perhaps the next best question is why? Do I have too many expectations, are they realistic? Once you check yourself, perhaps you can settle into the following:
It is not an unreasonable expectation for someone who claims to love you to show up when you need them. It is not unrealistic for someone who says they love you to bring you flowers when you are sick. It is not unreasonable to be listened to even when your message might be hard to hear. It is not unreasonable to expect that the person you need things from, has promised on some intimate level to provide you those things, for fun and for free.
It is unreasonable to think that these others will ever think or feel like you. It is unreasonable to think that there is one person out there who will never let you down. It is unreasonable and borders on insanity to think that someone who lets you down all the time is ever going to stop doing it and show up for you.
Read that again.
It. Is. Unreasonable.
And you are not an unreasonable person. You are not. You are, in fact, having some trouble with owning your disappointment. Perhaps in your spouse, child, employer, lover, friend. It really doesn’t matter, the covenants of intimacy begin with honesty, all of them.
So for me, as I venture out into this terrifying feeling world I will own that I am disappointed. And I have compensated for that disappointment by filling in all the gaps you have left in my life. I fill them so that I can’t see them, or feel them, so that I will not have to deal with them. I bury them like landmines in my own life that I have done so often that I have not a clue where they even exist anymore. The habit so complete and all encompassing...I step on the mines and blow myself up all the time and am grateful it is me and not you. I cover and replicate and pretend I do not have needs that I totally do. I tell others behind your back...because I know to speak them, to you, will be the end. Neither of us will survive my owned disappointment. It is not the first time or the fiftieth time...no. It is pervasive and has taken over my life.
So what am I doing?
Sitting at my kitchen table, in my nightgown, eating berry salad and trying, quite desperately, to talk disappointment out of taking complete control of my life. And that is when, disappointment leans over and says, “oh sweetie, I have had control of your life forever...you think you can outrun me but I am like a terrier nipping at your heels and I never tire...”
And I realize that disappointment is right. It has control. And I don’t know what to do about it. So for the moment, I am just going to let it mad dog stare me down as I sit very unladylike on my kitchen chair and pop berries into my mouth...as I think, ok, disappointment give me what you got. I will feel you.
Tapping away the insanity that tells me that feeling disappointment will be my undoing...venturing out into the land of feeling, not thinking. It feels like unchartered domain, because it is...and until I have the time to detonate all those feeling landmines, it is likely going to be a bit volatile.
So that is what I am doing...feeling deeply buried, volatile feelings that I hate.
Because I really do not have any idea what else to do...