Do you ever feel like you just can't win? That no matter how hard you try, you end up being a disappointment to someone?
That's kinda where I'm at. I disappoint everyone...and yes, this is an exaggeration, but it's the place my heart plummets to instinctively at times. At this exact moment, my youngest child is angry with me (and went to bed angry) because I didn't make her brother turn off the tv when she had to go to bed; my middle child is disappointed that I won't make his bedtime later (and so stomped off to bed soon after the first, huffy and without wanting our usual hug routine); and my oldest is disappointed because I didn't know what to stuff his small, oddly-shaped, pillow-like, machine-sewed creation with and because I don't have a single dry bean in the house for this purpose (and so he threw his creation into the garbage with a large hand flourish and a nasty backward glance at me). I'm sure, though he rarely says anything, that I disappoint my husband for not ever being able to get the balance right between happy/educated children and a home that is presentable. A dear friend is disappointed with me for not being the sounding board that she needed me to be yesterday and for having insufficient time and mental capacity to dedicate to this task. I even disappointed a stranger this morning for homeschooling my children.
Sigh. Sometimes I get really tired of being the bad news person...the one who just ends up disappointing those around her...the one who will simply never be enough for those who depend on her for a lot of things. Sometimes the weight on my shoulders gets a little heavy, in addition to everything else.
I used to feel abject terror if I'd disappointed someone. I grew up in a fairly strict, conservative community of family where expectations were high and pretty clear, and disapproval upon deviation keenly felt. I struggled with feeling like a total failure - incompetent, unlovable, etc etc. When those feelings would overtake me, I'd turn into people-pleasing mode and try to be the best/most loveable/most competent person around just to alleviate that feeling of disappointment and make people love me again. Heck, I think I even took an entire university degree just so as not to be a disappointment. I had it bad.
Honestly, I think it took becoming a parent to move me along this journey a little. I realized when Matthew was still a baby that if I took everything that everyone else told me about him and about parenting to heart, I was always going to disappoint someone. I learned that I needed to have my kid's back even in the face of disapproval and I went about practicing, deliberately and very consciously, to be ok with doing things the way my gut was telling me, and to mostly disregard what others told me was a more 'appropriate' way to be.
Becoming a homeschooler was the next big thing to move me down this road. It's the road less taken, lined with naysayers and "you should/could..."ers. To be a homeschooler (or at least to be this homeschooler) you've got to have strong inner resolve and conviction because it'll darn near kill you otherwise.
Adoption was the next thing to help me along. So many people had opinions about how we should do things and what we should do, how to build attachment and how our kids were just 'normal' like everyone else's - disappointing people became almost the expected in this context...and so I learned all the more to accept that I could survive it.
It's almost as if all of these steps along the journey have helped me accept who I am...even to embrace it. And truly, that is my heart's biggest counter move to feeling like I'm a disappointment to others. Because, ultimately, I'm answerable to God and to myself for my actions/inactions/responses/ etc and not to others. I am created in His image and created by Him for a purpose and with a design that is unique to me. And if I can hold onto that place where I can be ok with that, then disappointing other people becomes a little more expected and a little more ok. I can feel the discomfort and pain of it, acknowledge my instincts while not acting on them, and know that I am ok and will survive it.
The hardest times are days like yesterday and today, when I'm physically very tired and overwhelmed (and PMSing) and then to have to deal with other people being disappointed in me...well, it's like the straw that just breaks the camel's back and my old instincts kick in for a time.
Thankfully, in a lot of these moments, I feel like God has my back....where something else happens to bring about a bit of encouragement at just the right moment...to balance out the scales a little. Today it was an afternoon that the kids and I spent with a newish friend and her kids - it was an unexpected delight and blessing to spend that time with them, and I left feeling bolstered and hopeful and encouraged. A little buoyed up. Optimism (and sanity) returns.
I don't know if I'll ever totally get used to the feeling of disappointing other people. But when I think back and see how far I've come, well, perhaps that's the biggest encouragement of all.