I had an enjoyable final work lunch at my favourite Greek restaurant yesterday (mmm...saganaki!), worked all afternoon, and felt happy as I walked out of the office for the last time to get my kids and officially welcome the next phase of my writing life. Our moods can change on a dime. I walked in the house and a couple of things immediately occurred which spun me around emotionally 180 degrees, and go me thinking about how painful it is to be disappointed by people.
Those we love can wound us quickly and painfully. If I had one wish for a societal utopia, it would be that we all communicated clearly with each other. Passive-aggressive conversation laden with subtext wipes out my emotional reserves and leaves me bruised and bleeding by the side of the road. I wish I could shut down my antenna for all of the non-verbal cues when someone is pissed off with me, because my emotional barometer is wildly jumping but the words are not directly saying what the person is really saying. It makes it very hard to respond.
After this exchange, I looked to someone else for support and couldn't get it, for a variety of valid reasons, but it was disappointing all the same. When we are hurt we feel like we are left to twist in the wind, alone and vulnerable and bleeding. Sometimes we want to know clearly that someone cares about us in this state. I tried to be grown up, and tell myself that I have the choice for how I feel in these situations, but it didn't work so well when the wound was gaping.
I know for sure that I can't make everyone happy, even those people who are close to me. Sometimes we want things from each other that we just can't give. Often the situation is stacked up with impossibilities, and no one can cross over them. When that happens, I think it's best to step back, get a little breathing space, and hopefully find some perspective.
When I can't get what I'm looking for from someone, there are others in my life who can provide it, and I must lean on them to close the gap in my heart. And where others can't fix it, I can work on it myself, through counseling, journaling, prayer or any number of gentle, soothing ways.
My expectations must be lowered. On a daily basis, I need to adjust what I expect from myself and others, so I'm not setting myself up for disappointment. People are not going to communicate as clearly with me as I would like, because their own brokenness and fear gets in their way.
If I want people to extend grace to me for my shortcomings, I must do the same for them. It just becomes painful when situations rip at our old scabs on our hearts. Old wounds hurt much more than new ones. When pain hits that is too strong for the current situation, I am learning that it's related to something much deeper and older, and I must identify what it is before I can heal from it.
On the upside, at our lovely farmer's market in town, we ran into Ava's teacher, who gave us the news that our sweet 7 year old daughter has been asked to serve as a lamplighter at a school ceremony next week. Two lamplighters are identified in each class as children who model the virtues that the school focuses on each month, and prove helpful to the class and the teacher. I am a proud mom today. In life, there is pain and joy, in equal measure, in every day. I'm grateful for the good stuff, and for the chance to be alive so I can keep working on what hurts.