Have your parents ever told you how disappointed they are in you? Do you ever feel disappointed? In yourself? In your partner? In society?
Here is my personal opinion.
Disappointment is toxic.
By toxic I mean bad for the environment. No good for you. No good for anyone.
And yet so many people feel constantly disappointed. We’re disappointed in the election, in the rate of school shootings, in our partner’s inability to show us affection. All good reasons to be disappointed, right?
Nope. Not for me!
Not getting disappointed has helped me live a happier and freer life. I learned this from my mom. And my ex-boyfriend.
My mom is a sweet, good-hearted woman. She lives a simple life. The only thing she wants is for her children to be good, obedient, god-serving Muslims.
And god, how I’ve disappointed her.
A lot of people can relate to how I feel about my mom. I know this because I recently posted a picture of us with the caption “to my mama who won’t read see this because I’d never let her follow my ig” and the response that I got from the short paragraph I wrote about our complicated relationship was unearthing. My friends reached out to me with similar experiences with their parents, and their stories and struggles have encouraged me to be more vulnerable. And as a preacher’s kid, I can smell disappointment from miles away. And disappointment is toxic.
Here’s another personal example.
The biggest issue I had with an ex-boyfriend was that he didn’t show me enough physical affection. All of my life, I had a detailed expectation of what my boyfriend would do to me, would say to me, would make me feel. When I found my light-skinned prince charming, my life changed.
He was amazing.
But– something was wrong. He wouldn’t cuddle with me. He wouldn’t hold my hand. He wouldn’t kiss me.
Immediately, I pointed a finger at him. I was disappointed.
I made him feel like something was wrong with who he was. Intimacy issues, I called it.
And maybe he did struggle with intimacy. And maybe he did have much to learn in that department. But never did I look inward. Never did I realize that staying up all night crying because my boyfriend didn’t touch me was my issue.
I call disappointment toxic because that is the only way I can describe something that interferes with your ability to be happy. He felt immense pressure to please me, to fulfill my desires, instead of act on his own god-driven intuition telling him to get the fuck out of the relationship because this was a needy, attached girl that relied on other people to make her happy but would be miserable if she didn’t take control of her desires and realize that attachments can never fill the void of self-love.
I call disappointment toxic because of this math:
Usually, expectations proceed disappointment, right? Without expectations, you’d have zero disappointments. So;
expectations = disappointment
Now, where do our expectations come from? Simple. Expectations are manifestations of our desires. Ex; You expect your kid to be well-behaved. Your desire is to have a well-behaved kid. But your desires don’t just appear from thin air. They come from your ideals. The way you wish life could be.
Now here is where the problem appears!!!!! IDEALS ARE IDEALS FOR A REASON. It is impossible for all of your ideals to come true because everyone’s ideals are different. That means there could be no “real” world where all of our ideals are expressed at the same time. The problem happens when people expect all of their ideals to come true.
ideals = desires = expectations = disappointment
Also, we live in a linear model of time, which means our ideals should keep changing. Theoretically, once we’ve achieved our ideal, we are already looking at a newer one. Ex; You lose 5 pounds and you can’t help but go on imagining your toned and fit summer body. And then after you reach that goal, you’re already thinking about getting shredded abs. Suffice to say we will never reach our ideals. That’s why they are ideals.
So when paired with desires, your ideals will lead to disappointment. Going back to my mom, she has all of these ideals of what the perfect daughter looks like. Her desire is what keeps her attached to this false reality of a perfect daughter. And I had all these ideals of what the perfect boyfriend looks like. My desire for that ideal relationship kept me begging for him to touch me.
And this is where it becomes toxic. I blamed my ex-boyfriend for making me feel lonely. My mom shames and blames me for not upholding her ideals. We act as if we have the authority to tell people what to do. And then blame them for how we feel.
The main culprit here is not desire, but not being able to detach from our desires. You see, even if my mom kept all her ideals, but she wasn’t attached to her desires, then she could accept reality and let go of her expectations and she’d never feel disappointment. And if I wasn’t attached to the perfect relationship, I could have moved on and found someone else that would fulfill those needs. Or learned how to love myself?!
But the most ironic part of all, I used to be so disappointed in my mom for not being the perfect parent. If I had not been disappointed in my mother’s parenting, I could have learned how to navigate around her and found better ways to grow myself in spite of the toxic environment. And I wouldn’t have spent most of my childhood wishing for different parents and a different life.
But I’m not disappointed in myself, anymore. I was young. Inexperienced. Unwilling to change. That was the old me. I had to experience that then to appreciate my life now.
So the whole point to all of this, is that if we don’t control our desire, we will allow our ideals to ruin our lives. And then they will cause us to be miserable and cause our kids to be miserable and we’d all be living in a miserable hell.
And that all sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?
It’s too common. So spread the message:
disappointment = toxic
Disappointment is a rejection of reality. This is toxic not only to the person experiencing the disappointment, but the person also feeling disappointed.
The kid feels inadequate. Each ounce of disappointments rejects him of unconditional love. Why is this traumatizing to the kid?? Because without acceptance, she cannot flourish into her highest potential. Because of all the fears that will arise from your rejection.
And the parent also feels unsatisfied. They are longing for an ideal world that will not. possibly. exist. They are squandering the infinite opportunities of the moment by spending time in a make believe world in their minds that excludes everything that is happening, right here, right now. They stand in their own way of actually understanding their child, and their struggles.
Lastly, the biggest problem with not detaching from your desires is that you rob that thing of free will. You are so attached to that person to uphold your ideal, that you do not let them choose freely what they want to do. Oppression is taking away someone’s free will. And I think we can all agree that
oppression is toxic.
So now what?
Maybe you’ve just realized that you don’t let your cat choose to go outside and experience the grass and the sun. That’s technically oppression. What are you going to do now?
I can’t help you there. I’m still trying to avoid accidentally stepping on ants.