Dishing out Disappointment
Bursting the Balloon
I really hate letting people down. It makes me feel like an awful human being, and even worse, I feel like their disappointment is tangible. You can often gauge a person’s emotions just by reading his or her face (of course, this doesn’t work with those who can keep a “poker face” all the time). And I hate when a mouth turns down or a face falls in despair, especially when I’m to blame. It’s like letting the air out of a floating balloon.
The trouble is, however, that life is full of disappointments. Even worse, I often seem to disappoint those who are closest to me - those who deserve far better. Take, for instance, my best friend Julie. She has stood by my side through thick and thin, without wavering for even a moment. But she lives three hours away, and each time we make plans to get together, I’m the one who has to break them.
In January, when I was supposed to meet her at a midway point for lunch, I had to cancel because I couldn't afford the trip. Now, we were supposed to meet again at a central location, and I’ve had to cancel again, this time for several reasons. The first is work; Julie has the luxury of a 40-hour work week with an actual employer, and when she schedules vacation time, it’s granted without question. I, on the other hand, can try with all my might to escape for a day, but when meetings and other demands arise, I have to be on-hand to tend to them. My business is a one-woman show, and if I don’t complete my tasks, I have nobody else to help me.
A Lack of Understanding
I know Julie tries to understand this, but I can tell it's getting harder. She can’t, because she doesn’t live the life I do. Just as I don’t understand what it’s like to raise a child with absolutely no support from anyone else, Julie can't grasp the scope of my many work-related responsibilities.
The other problem I’m having is with my mother, who has suddenly fallen ill but will not schedule a visit with her doctor. I’m worried about her health and don’t want to travel three hours away for fear I’ll get a telephone call that she’s taken a turn for the worse. At this time, I think it’s best for me to simply stay here, where I can take care of work matters and be near my mom should anything happen.
Despite having a four-year-old, Julie’s life is a lot more straight-forward than mine. Her father lives where I do, so she’s not obligated to him in any way. And, as I said previously, she earns a stable, weekly paycheck from a stable, weekly job. My money and schedule are much more erratic, and I never know from day to day what’s going to happen.
I don't want to have to disappoint Julie so often, but our lives just don't match up right now. I suppose I need to have a talk with her so that she understands why it's so difficult for me to keep our appointments. I don’t want her to stop asking me to meet her (I love spending time with her and her daughter), and I definitely don’t want to lose her friendship. But I don’t want to be a source of sadness or disappointment for her, either.
I probably need to explain these thoughts so she knows that I’m sincere. It’s important to me that Julie understands why I frequently cancel on her at the last minute. I’ve learned that acquaintances are many, but true friends are few. And I’m fortunate enough to call her my best friend, so maybe I need to work a little harder to maintain our friendship, even when my personal resources don’t allow me to see her.