Managing disappointments

I deserved more...

Let's face it. Every day isn't filled with puppy dogs and daisies. Situations and people can hurt us in the blink of an eye. When I talk to patients who are in the midst of a hardship, I will reflect with, "what a disappointment that was for you." Their eyes perk up as if to say "yes, I am very disappointed. I expected more. I deserved more." Heck yes you did! We all do. The trick is what you do from that moment on. Do you let the disappointment swallow you with anger and resentment? Do you silently seethe and respond with passive aggressive jabs? Or sink into silence and depression. I think not. 

We had snacks. We had snuggles...

This topic became a theme in my home about a month ago. My ten-year-old daughter and I had been following the last season of American Idol. This was in part due to Charlotte's obsession with singing, but also the utter lack of appropriate family programming that I can tolerate. We had both become attached to a few potential idols over the period of several weeks. Their backstories and dramatic performances left us in tears on given nights. We were torn between the bipolar pretty-boy (she called him Jack Frost), and the single mom that had escaped domestic violence with her infant. Let's be honest. They were all crazy talented. The finale played on a Wednesday and Charlotte would be at her dad's house until Friday. I managed a social media blackout as promised, so that we could experience the finale together. Finally, the night came. We had snacks. We had snuggles. Then it happened. Someone else won. He was extremely talented and deserved it as much as anyone, but Charlotte was crushed.

Pre-teen volcano of tears and snot...

She ran into the spare room sobbing. This was one of those parenting moments where I was totally unsure of my move. Do I respect her pain and let her process on her own time? Do I comfort her and endure the endless pre-teen volacano of tears and snot? I decided to let her process and let her know I was there when she needed me. After a very lengthy active-grieving period, she emerged puffy and red-faced. She composed herself and said, "it's just that I've never been that disappointed before." Those words hit me. If this has been her greatest disappointment in life, things are going pretty well. It got me thinking of my own disappointments. The crushing moments that defined my personal growth and scenic route taken to emotional maturity. When I didn't get the part promised to me in the school play, not making cheerleader freshman year, boyfriends, break-ups, not getting the job or apartment I had my heart set on. This list could go on until I hit menopause. At the time, these were horrible and crushing experiences. Now, they are just a story. 

Best disappointment song ever...

What about people? Imperfect humans that fumble under pressure, or just for sport. They sting us with their actions, gossip, and betrayal. How do you wrap your head around that? How do you move past it and fly like a phoenix out of the ashes? I don't have those answers. I've been the one to metaphorically bleed out on the sidewalk with my trusting persona. What I can say is this- people will disappoint you. Friends, lovers, family, co-workers, trusted confidants. They are all likely to fall short of your expectations at some point. The only thing that will make them triumphant in the end, is for you to give up. Never stop connecting. Never stop trusting people until they prove otherwise. Don't become cold or blanketed in futility. Try. Keep climbing your mountain and collect the jewels in your tribe. Leave the rest behind. Disappointments polish us into becoming wiser and more compassionate individuals. They allow us to cherish the beauty we find in this world with waves of gratitude. Manage the hits with grace. Your story isn't finished.

AM