I believe the “f” word is an important one in the English language. I don’t want to offend you by my use of it, but I use it nonetheless. It is a great word, one that has come to my aid many times. If you are offended, that’s cool. If you are easily put off by those four letters strung together in that particular order, you may not get me to begin with.
Further, I wrote the original of this blog post last week. It wasn’t coherent then. It may or may not be a tad more coherent now. As my bff Elizabeth said to me, the ones we write with no clue what we are writing about are the best ones.
Bottom Line? I am as messed-up as you, your friends and your family are. I just generally tend to be able to write about it better.
So here goes…
Some people hate snakes or open spaces or scary movies or broccoli and thus, do their best to avoid ever being face-to-face with the hated object, creature, setting or feeling.
And generally, the hating (or being scared) of those things is acceptable and the avoiding is doable, and no one really suffers (except, maybe, for the parents desperately trying to get their kids to eat their broccoli).
We all, each of us, has our “thing,” right?
I have a few. We can talk about the rats and the claustrophobia another time.
This blog post is about disappointment.
I hate to be let down.
As in, I hate to be in a situation or relationship in which I rely on someone to do, say, deliver, give or be something or someone that they, for a bazillion-and-one reasons, cannot, do not or will not do, say, deliver, give or be.
When I started to write this post last week, I was feeling disappointed and let down. (Vague, I know…..)
I was actually more than disappointed. I was devastated. I cried a lot. I wondered what was wrong with me that I attracted this situation – and many others like it in the past – into my life.
I questioned myself pretty harshly and deeply. I questioned my expectations: Were they too high? Unrealistic? Did I have a pattern? I was more disappointed with myself than with anyone or anything else.
For years, I avoided people, relationships, feelings and anything that could potentially let me down or lead to disappointment. Pushing down feelings and pushing away people. Not allowing myself to question what wasn’t working or change what sucked – not even allowing myself to acknowledge that I cared. All of that was part of my brilliant M.O.
And it made things kind of easy in many ways: I lived in the Comfort Zone where disappointment was rare – as were great highs. When you aren’t vulnerable, when you don’t go all in, you don’t have to feel as much as, consequently, you may not get hurt as much.
Life was “eh,” but at least no one could penetrate my wall. That I could deal with.
Yes, you can only be let down or disappointed when you actually care and when you actually feel. Avoid feeling or caring or even thinking too much or too deeply and, you too, will never have to deal with the pain of disappointment!
Except…well….it isn’t that great. It isn’t fucking living at all. It is just existing and avoiding and maneuvering and staying inside the lines.
I was like a slalom skier who weaves in and out and around the poles, with the chief goal to get from Point A at the top to Point B at the bottom with as little damage, contact or detour along the way. The goal is a clean, contact-free straight shot. The faster, the better.
So to avoid the pain of being let down or disappointed, my goal was that same clean, contact-free straight shot through life.
One of the ways I did this was I told myself (and others) the story that I was low-maintenance. Self-sufficient. That I asked little of others, expected even less and was able, except for the occasional pickle jar, to do everything on my own, for myself and mostly by myself.
No one could or would disappoint me because I would never even open that door. I managed to avoid most instances or relationships in which I had to be vulnerable and totally expose my naked truth in all its messiness.
What’s more, I wore my “I don’t ask anyone for anything” approach to life as a badge of honor.
You’d have been lucky to be my friend or my client or my neighbor or my significant other because not only would I barely ask you for a thing, in return I would bend over backwards for you, drop everything when you need me and make you a top priority. (Sometimes, I’d wonder why no one ever did anything for me, no one helped me, no one supported me. Then I would remind myself that was because I wouldn’t let them. I pushed them away or made them scared to even ask.)
So, while I may have been rarely disappointed or let down, I was other things. And fucking exhausted was one of them. It was tiring to be everything to myself and to everyone else. It was physically tiring slaloming nonstop, over and over. And it was mentally and emotionally tiring to go through every day thinking that I could exist that way indefinitely.
In refusing to trust, open up, love fully or even ask for help and support, I was making a very strong statement to myself and to the Universe and to anyone around to listen.
I was saying – yelling and screaming, actually – that I was not worthy of disappointment.
Not. Worthy. Of. Disappointment.
As in, I did not deserve situations that I cared about that much or people whom I loved that much or think thoughts or have dreams or requests that big or bold.
Someone or something that inspired or invited big feelings, big love, big caring in me also potentially had the power to also disappoint me or unlove me or undo me big time. And, really, who the fuck was I to even expect all of that potential big stuff to come my way?
Of course I could be disappointed if I actually cared, so I just bypassed the whole caring thing so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Jeez, it is so circular: Circular logic that could make your head spin (it did mine).
But guess what? I deserve disappointment. No kidding. And you do, too. Disappointment means you know what you needed or wanted and you allowed yourself to trust, to expect, to make space, to be open.
Disappointment means that you care. Deeply.
It means you know how deserving you are of something or someone that can deliver the goods. And your worth remains the same whether or not “they” or “it” can come through for you. (In fact, it may mean you are more worthy than ever.)
Just because you didn’t get what you needed/wanted from one source doesn’t mean it isn’t coming to you. Just the opposite, in fact. Your job is to stop focusing on the “why not” and start looking for the “why yesses.” Reminds me of this great advice from Richard in Eat, Pray, Love: “You’re like a dog at the dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”)
Disappointment doesn’t suck any less with this realization. In fact, it may suck more. The more you love, the more you care, the more you expose, the more you open up – the more you can get crushed, hammered, slammed or stopped cold.
But, folks, that’s where all the sweetness is. You won’t find it anywhere else. You can’t outsmart or even outlast this stuff. Trust me, I tried. It isn’t possible.
Disappointment is a sign that I’m no longer slaloming or Comfort Zon-ing.
Disappointment means I know what I want and I’m on it.
Disappointment is a natural by-product of a life that’s actually being lived and savored.
There is a certain deliciousness in disappointment, when you think about it.
So go ahead, jump in and let go. You deserve to be disappointed. Own it.