Disappointment is something that occasionally plagues my life. And right now it is consuming me. I get disappointed for thousands of reasons because I expect more. I worked really hard to get to the place I am in and I refuse to not demand more.
Without getting in too much of a back story (we barely know each other…) my dad wasn’t what a father should be. He was an alcoholic and on too many contraindicating prescription medications. He was mean and abusive when he was around. Everyday he took a sip of alcohol or took another pill, he pushed my brother and me further away. I say ‘was’ for all of this, because he is no longer suffering from alcoholism and he has a great doctor that has straightened all of medication out. Did I mention he is bipolar, depressed, severely anxious and has chronic pain? Everyday he has to choose to not fall back into his old lifestyle. He has since apologized and tried to have some sort of relationship with my brother and me.
It has been a long and difficult journey to get where we are with my dad. Trying to start a relationship and essentially get to know each other. If you have never been in a similar situation before, let me be the first to tell you, it is hard. How can you ignore that past 25 years? With all the above being said, I realize my dad is just human. He is going to make mistakes.
Disappointment is a tough emotion. It is stealthy and sneaks up on you before you are even aware of emotions. How does all this tie together? Well my dad forgot my brother’s 22nd birthday on Monday. This is the second year in a row he has forgotten my brother’s birthday. He also didn’t call or text me on mine, but this is about my brother. Okay, maybe about me too, but I’m supposed to not care… My brother called me about 9 PM on Monday night and was devastated his father forgot his birthday. He even called my dad to see if it would make him remember. Nothing. My heart was so broken in that moment. It broke for my brother and for me. My heart ached for the little kids that just wanted their father’s love.
There is many other facets in the story, but him forgetting our birthdays was the last straw. After talking to my brother, we decided we were going to break the chain. Through all of this, we were the most disappointed in ourselves. Every year, time after time, we expect something different. My father has never given us a reason to put faith in him, and each time he lets us down, we are hurt. This is not new to us. It’s all we know of him, but it doesn’t stop the disappointment.
My first thought, since I am an ‘Ice Queen’ was to just allow the hatred to flood my heart. I wanted to throw my hands up and stop trying to have a relationship. Hatred, rage, or just numbness is easier than everything else I was feeling. I was struggling with what to do. Last night, my brother sent me a quote from The Light Between Oceans that was so spot:
“‘I choose to,” he said. ‘I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget.”
“But it’s not that easy.”
He smile that Frank smile. “Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.” He laughed, pretending to wipe sweat from his brow. “I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No”- his voice became somber- “we always have a choice. All of us.””
It was in that moment that my little brother gave me such clarity. No matter what I do, I can’t rewrite the past. I can however, still write my future. We can choose if hatred and bitterness engulfs our hearts, or if we choose compassion, forgiveness and love. It is exhausting and damaging to allow those negative feelings to anchor you under water. People are going to disappoint you, but we have to move forward. Cut the anchor and let yourself breathe! We also have a expect and demand better. Don’t just allow people to disappoint you constantly, don’t allow that to be the normal. In order to do that, you have to demand more of yourself. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Let people learn from example. There is so much more to life than disappointment and pain. So do better. Be better. Be more.