If there is one toxic trait I have it’s that I cannot stand disappointing people. I saw a screenshot on Stories once of someone’s phone with like 45 unread text messages and it said “I’ll get back to you all eventually (or may not lol)!” I can’t imagine living my life if I didn’t respond to everyone who pinged me right away. If you’re my friend, you know this especially well.
This sort of around the clock, 100% on, always available, zero boundaries lifestyle has worn on me over the years. For many of those years I was completely unaware I was even doing it. I thought everyone lived their life like that, which lead me down a path of so many disappointments in so many relationships. I thought if someone forgot to call me then I had done some wrong and that they were angry with me. When really, they were just exercising a healthy boundary. Or had just forgotten and it were kinder to themselves about it than I would be.
It’s a weird thing to become aware of, as I have, because it doesn’t magically go away at that point. No, it’s almost worse because you feel yourself actively stopping your day, stopping your thought, removing yourself from work or relaxation to tend to someone else’s needs. No matter how unimportant. I’ll see a text and have to actually talk myself down from responding right away. Or someone will call me and engage in a 45 minute conversation I wasn’t at all ready to have, but I’ll take the call. I watch the minutes tick by and get irritable. It’s terrible.
This is the point when everyone’s like, “Go to therapy, lol”. Don’t worry, I am, and this is a big piece of my life puzzle and looking forward. But as always in the event someone out there is like me, I wanted to give background to my little self project. I’m going to start disappointing people. And I’m going to learn how to be ok with it.
Because the hardest truth for me to realize was that– I’m going to disappoint people no matter what. No matter how many times I am there for them, drop everything, finish their task first, do them a “favor”, they will still be disappointed in me because at some point I’ll hit a human wall. I can’t be all things to all people. Even though, sometimes I want to be. I’ve learned that when people get attached to the way that we “are”, it’s hard for them to imagine us in another way. Even if they don’t mean to, they’ve come to expect that same energy, the same support, each and every time. Hey. there’s nothing wrong with being reliable. But if it consumes you then you are beyond pouring from an empty glass. There is no glass at all. There’s not even a table.
And sometimes what you’re “known” for becomes part of the narrative. You become someone’s “party friend” and that is all they will expect from you. Asking them for a low key night, or a walk in the park, becomes difficult. “But what do you mean you can’t?” They say. Again, it’s often not on purpose, but for them you’re disrupting their life. And that’s hard for everyone.
So what do we do? Let’s start drawing some lines NOT purposely ignoring people or avoiding our commitments. Let’s start seeing where some lines could go. It’s going to suck and I already know how difficult it is going to be. Twice this week already I’ve sent LONG texts of “SORRY! I AM SO SORRY!” But you know, there’s a learning curve to this.
I’m learning to protect my time and space. In a weird way I have the pandemic to thank for that. So, if you’re like me and have a hard time putting your shit first, let’s get try this together. Look, anyone we lose along the way wasn’t worth keeping around to begin with. And no one says we have to keep this a secret. I am actively sharing with friends that I am working on boundary setting, and the response from that one statement has been so beautiful and helpful in my exploration. The thing is — people understand when we let them in. Weird, right?