I wonder whether I disappoint other people as much as they disappoint me.
I really don’t know. Maybe I would be unhappy if I knew the truth about that. Maybe I wouldn’t want to know. All I know is that I keep being disappointed in people I’d like to trust. And I don’t know whether that’s their fault or my own.
I grew up feeling disappointed in most people. It wasn’t their intelligence or their abilities that disappointed me. I could deal with those sorts of things. I was disappointed — and hurt — by people’s values. And especially when they didn’t live up to their values.
When I was about 11 or 12, the pastor at our church was having an affair with my next door neighbor’s wife. My sisters and I played with that couple’s daughter and we spent a lot of time in their house. The mom sometimes drove us to school. I figured out — long before it was public — what was really going on. And even though I was young, I felt disappointed in both the pastor and my neighbor.
Tonight, a woman disappointed me for another reason. Part of me is hurt, but another part is numb. Maybe I have no one to blame, though. Maybe I should know by now not to trust people.
The details ultimately don’t matter. Or maybe they do matter. I’m not sure. Either way, I’m going to skip them. I just know that I just can’t quit feeling this awful disappointment.
I met this woman a couple of years ago through a mutual friend, but I didn’t really get to know her at the time. I was still deeply in love with someone else and couldn’t give anybody else a fair chance. This friend had been trying to play matchmaker for us ever since and I finally decided to give it a shot.
From the outside, everything looked remarkably good about her. She’s bright and has a professional job. She grew up in churches similar to those of my own background. Her values and intelligence seemed to align with what I want. She’s an attractive woman in her early 30s who’s never been married, but she wants to have a family. And she really seems to like me.
I’d seen her several times recently. Things had gone well. But tonight, she shared a part of her life that she keeps carefully hidden from everybody. She was nervous to tell me about it, because she thought it might run me off. She was right about that.
I sometimes joke that there’s a long-running conspiracy to turn me into a misanthrope — and that the conspiracy is working. It’s just a joke, but I’m sometimes so exhausted from feeling disappointed with people that I want to cut myself off from the world. I know that’s not reasonable, but I’m so exhausted. I’m so tired of being disappointed. I’m so tired of finding out that I can’t trust people I wanted to trust.
Do I expect too much from people? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure anymore. Has the culture changed so much that I am so far out of step that I’m the equivalent of some Amish man trying to live among a mainstream culture that simply seems degenerate to me?
A few years ago, singer/songwriter Jason Isbell released a song about feeling uncomfortable when he moved to a big city for college. The verses tell of the various ways that his habits and values didn’t line up with those of the people around him — and the chorus keeps asking, “Am I the last of my kind?”
There are times when I ask myself the same thing. Tonight is one of those times. I know that I need people. I need a partner. I need companionship and a family. I’m painfully aware of how badly I need those things. But I find myself disappointed — yet again — in what other people appear to be — and it makes me feel very alone.
I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m numb from being disappointed in people for years. I’m frustrated from trusting someone and then finding out my trust was misplaced. I feel lost.
It makes me feel as though I must be the last of my kind. And it makes me feel all alone.