Tuesday, August 23, 2016

People Who Disappoint

It sounds terribly harsh, haughty and perhaps even cruel. People in your past life who disappointed you. Past friends or acquaintances whose actions didn’t live up to your expectations; real or otherwise. People who didn’t follow through or fell short of what you expected from them.

Of course, it’s terribly subjective and handicapped by a less than thorough knowledge of their motives. Were there extraneous factors, whether recognized or not, that contributed to the demise of that friendship? Was it something you did or didn’t do? Was it something you said, even in honesty, that was taken the wrong way?

No matter what the contributing factors might have been you’ve come to the conclusion that whatever you once had with these folks has now’ left the station.’ On one hand it’s sad. On the other it’s just life giving you a poke on the backside and reminding us all that nothing and no one is perfect.

Some folks can be brutally honest in terms of their relationships. They separate family (with all those obligatory ties) from friends and acquaintances (where they get to decide whom they want to be associated with.) They pick and choose their friends based on connections, associations and tie-ins all for their own self-benefit and satisfaction. ‘It’s nothing personal,’ as my boss used to say, ‘it’s just business.’

Friendships and relationships can be by their very nature a very vapid and elusive bond to attain and hold on to. Fleeting friendships based on circumstance are easy to recognize. A partnership in the Armed Forces evaporates as soon as discharge papers are served. That’s understood, accepted and welcomed for a return to civilian life. A close relationship in school can wither away and die when outstate jobs or opportunities beckon. Neighbors and neighborhoods fade from memory after the moving van has arrived. It’s all part and parcel of the ebb and flow of normal life.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Hoffman

But what about those friendships that you thought were meant for greater things. Something special you wanted to hold on to but couldn’t…her fault or yours, it doesn’t matter anymore. The clich├ęs are rampant when describing what happened or might have happened. ‘There were promises not met or kept.’ ‘We were moving along in life.’ ‘People change.’ ‘They/she just wasn’t that into you.’ And the one that best describes them all because it tells us nothing: ‘Things happen.’ Whatever once was had become vaporous and vague. Then like the morning mist wrapping itself around a tree trunk it slowly slipped away.

It seems to me that some folks go through life on auto-pilot. They never stop to question anything that life throws at them. Instead of designing their life as they would want it or like it or wish for it to be they simply accept what is lying there on top of the morning covers. I think that’s what happens to a lot of friendships. They’re taken for granted until those innocuous bonds that held it together have slowly unraveled and broken apart, leaving nothing but memories where a welcoming smile used to be.

A mental-meandering trip back in time usually reveals little. So what happened to those folks?
Did they change or did you? Whose expectations weren’t met? Was it your baggage or theirs? Did they move on or did you move on with your life and in the process leave behind what once was or might have been. Did they disappoint you or did you screw up and lose what might have been a wonderful friendship or relationship?

Like most mysteries of life, there are no easy answers…if any at all. What once was is no longer relevant and if that bothers you then the onus is on you to make it better the next time around.
As the saying goes: “To have a friend you must first be a friend.” They’re still out there…those wonderful folks who could be your friend. You just have to be generous in kindness and spirit.

I guess we (or perhaps just I) have to make the effort and accept the fact that we might be disappointed. 

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