This is one of those posts where I take a search term from my blog’s stats and then write a bunch of stuff about it.
This particular search term – What to say to someone who always disappoints you – stood out because I’m one of those someone’s who always succeeds in disappointing people.
How do I know that I always disappoint people?
Because disappointed people usually have no problem at all in communicating their disappointment.
So, it puzzles me a little that someone is searching online to find out what to say to someone who always disappoints them.
I would hazard a guess that the someone who is always disappointing that seeker of what to say already knows they’re a constant disappointment to them.
“We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.”― Anais Nin
I was at a dinner party the other evening. It was a lovely meal in good company, everyone was in high spirits, laughing, sharing news, life stories, pictures on their phones, but towards the end of the get together cracks in the bonds began to show.
People were tired from the effort of socialising, everyone had drunk and eaten a little bit more than they intended, and it was nearing the time to go home.
And those little gremlins, those beefs and griefs which we all tend to have with others no matter how much we love and care about them, made their way out of the cracks to have a bit of a party of their own.
One person suddenly said to another in mid conversation: “I know I’ll never be able to schedule my life as efficiently as you do.“
It was not a compliment. It was a response to something the other person had said which had been perceived as a criticism, a poke, prod, dig at an old wound.
There was an ever so slight pause filled with tension building…
Was there going to be a polite fight.
That old wound wanted to be healed but it invariably chose to attempt its healing by stirring up an argument, and that never works, does it.
The one to whom those words were directed, remained as oblivious as they were when they’d said what had provoked the reaction. You could see it in their expression, the stubborn determination to see themselves as one who had said no wrong.
They were so dedicated to only seeing themselves as the good one and to not see things from the other person’s perspective that they actually decided to launch into a nostalgic story about just how inefficient the person was with their life scheduling.
“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.”
― George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
Luckily the whole table was interrupted by the arrival of coffee and cake, and so that dinner party could go down in memory as a wonderful gathering of happy souls.
But that issue between those two is still there waiting for a healing resolution. It’s been around for decades, and has suffered many disappointments in its desire for them to figure out why it exists, what purpose it serves, and how to happy ending it once and for all.
While I don’t know all the finer personal details of it… I don’t really need to to recognise the story. It’s one of those which gets passed along from human to human, and rears its head in all human interactions.
Someone somewhere expected something from us because someone somewhere in their life before us expected something from them, and we disappointed them because they disappointed those in their before us, and we expected something from someone after them because of what came before, and they disappointed us.
“A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
There is a certain need within all of us to do to others what was done to us, perhaps to learn that side of the relationship equation.
Sometimes we think that’s where the power resides – on the side we weren’t on before.
When we’re the one who has disappointed someone else we feel so powerless… they have all the power. Expectations are powerful. If we collect expectations then we will be collecting power. The more expectations we have, the more powerful we become.
The more others disappoint us, the more power… wait a minute, why isn’t it working, the math doesn’t add up.
When I was the one who disappointed, I felt powerless – the one I’d disappointed had all the power. Therefore when I am the one who is disappointed in someone else, I should feel powerful… so why do I feel powerless?
“Our disappointment sits between us.”
― Charles Bukowski, The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966
It’s exhausting, tiresome, deflating, depressing, burdensome, and unsatisfying whichever side of the equation you are on.
The more expectations you collect and have, the more powerless you become, others have all the power to disappoint you… and your disappointment in them feels like it hurts you more than it hurts them.
It doesn’t seem to motivate them to not disappoint you. It’s almost as though they’re actually going out of their way to disappoint you, giving your expectations the finger.
And yet their disappointment in you, it hurt you, it motivated you not to disappoint them. You tried harder to please, to be perfect, to live up to their ideals, to deliver, to meet their expectations and… what happened?
Or was it that with each expectation you met, they met that with more expectations. They’d finally found their beast of burden… or their prince… were they testing you to see if you’d turn back into a frog because they’d been disappointed too many times before by people meeting their expectations and then not doing that forever?
“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”― George Carlin
The longer it went on, the more you expected of yourself… and the more you kept being a disappointment to yourself.
The more you expected of yourself… the more you expected from others. And the disappointment points increased.
So how do you solve the problem.
Do you expect nothing?
But isn’t that expectation of nothing based on an expectation of disappointment?
And besides, you don’t like that feeling, the one which rises up inside like indigestion, when you’re in the company of someone who expects nothing of you because they expect to be disappointed. What’s the point in doing anything with them, for them, or…
What’s the point in being part of their life and in having them in your life since they’ve already decided you’re useless and pointless?
That’s it from me… over to you!
Featured image is In Case of Disappointment a comic song by George F. McCann