11.17.2008

Promises

Today the wind blows wickedly as if to challenge my request for colder weather, and I think of the carrot danglers, those who make promises they don’t keep. The proclamations can be tiny, almost insignificant, like, “I’ll call you right back,” times when I smile broadly, make a note on the calendar, wait by the phone. And when follow-through doesn’t come, my trust wilts. After each disappointment I believe less and less in what people say.

“It’s about them, not you,” others tell me, and I say, “That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if their intentions are real and pure. It makes me not believe their words and as a result I push these people away bit by bit.”

The cycle makes me feel ‘word literal,’ but I don’t know how else to process language. I don’t know how to live if words don’t have the meaning I’ve been taught they do.

Everyone these days is so overwhelmed, I hear, that promises now equal stated desires, intentions. Not following through is as much a disappointment to the promiser as the promised. But I don’t see it because, the thing is, I’m able to distinguish between “I’ll try” and “I will.” When I’m stretched, I know it.

The wind whistles down my chimney, joins me in my living room, moves the palm fronds. It creates a musical backdrop to my thoughts, offers an available deterrent to slipping into running shoes and taking a step outside.

I promised myself I would run first thing in the morning, and the clock already reads 11 a.m. with my running shoes still by the door. I promised myself I’d return to the shaky pages of my novel and push past doubt, but the novel file remains unopened.

So I do break promises, only they are promises I make to myself. And that’s terrible, tragic, because these are the promises I can control.

As I step away from judgment, I discover my greatest disappointment lies within, that I am no better than those who don’t honor words spoken to me. Through the years I’ve wallowed in pain by blaming those who haven’t come through, but the truth is that if I honored my pledges to self, I would care less about the broken promises of others. They would fall to the back of the line of things I’m waiting for.

As I walk towards my running shoes, I think of enduring the wind-whipping run, the action that tries to knock me over and push me back, the goal that challenges my resolve. This will become my touchstone, the way I will keep promises to myself.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read that entry three times in a row -- and it rang truer, and sank in deeper, each time through.

-- frm yr fav "A real letter soon" guy

tno

kristen said...

i feel like i should be more true to my word - that i definitely fudge that. and i'm guilty of saying i'll call you later this week (which was last week) when you offered me help with my camera.

don't push away from me though! i promise (no really) to be more true to my word and it has to start with keeping my promises to myself. thank you for the reminder.

Maggie, Dammit said...

I'm surrounded by my own broken promises, too. Eerily enough, they also involve writing, reading, and exercise.

I loved this.

crazymumma said...

So many women I read lately are struggling with being better to themselves as they realize that no one else will truly take care of them.

As to that file. That writing file?

Collecting dust on my screen....

ConverseMomma said...

This was beautiful and hurt a bit because it struck a chord. I want to be all things to all people, and then sometimes in the trying I am nothing to no one, least of all myself.

Penny said...

This is a fantastic post.

"I don’t know how to live if words don’t have the meaning I’ve been taught they do." ~ I can relate to this with such depth.. and then, of course, also to the unanswered dishonored pledges to one's own self.

But, don't be too hard on yourself. But, remember to be good to yourself. ;)

Womanin a Window said...

I was just talking to my husband about this five minutes ago. I was explaining how easy it is to promise myself things and I believe them, I really, really do but they dissolve by noon in the commotion of the moment the next day. My own brain tricking myself.

(And I have to explain why I haven't been here. I kept waiting for your sage words to pop up in my reader and I was wondering at how productive you must be writing that novel and that other thing 'cause Jezuzzz you weren't writing any blogs and then tonight I thought, shit. Enough. And I'll be damned but I hadn't added you to my reader. But now you're there and I promise I'll read you more often. Really. Promise.)