On Disappointment

by Annie Kaszina on December 6, 2006

Yesterday I had to postpone the teleclass I had arranged
with Shoshana Garfield on EFT for domestic violence recovery. Shoshana was quite unwell and had chosen
not to do it. 

Her reasoning was that she could have got through the
teleclass, just, and provided listeners with some useful information. However, she would not have been at her
best. Working under those conditions,
she reasoned, would mean failing to honour herself and her listeners. 

That choice was the first revelation

But there was more. Shoshana chose to offer everyone who signed up for the teleclass the
model of a woman who put herself first. 

Shoshana and I both dialled into the call and explained
the situation to the women who had been eagerly looking forward to the
teleclass. Despite their our distress
and difficult circumstances, they were very sympathetic and concerned about how
unwell Shoshana was. They could not
have been more gracious about the teleclass being delayed.

After the call, Shoshana and I spoke briefly. She said that the women had not felt able to
voice their disappointment. All I had
registered was that they had taken it very well – exactly as I would have done
in their position. 

Shoshana wasn’t letting it go at that. She insisted they had been
disappointed. I thought that she making
an unnecessarily big thing of it: it was just one more disappointment that they
would shrug and take in their stride, because that’s what you do, isn’t it?

It was then that I had the second revelation of the night. That was what I had learned to do. That is what you do learn to do when you are
in an abusive relationship and you get disappointment after disappointment
after disappointment. Since you can’t
stop the disappointments happening, you learn not to feel the pain. You make yourself go numb to it. That was what I had done.

I’d long since stopped caring too much about my own
disappointment, yet I’ve been almost pathologically concerned with not
disappointing other people. 

Had I been in Shoshana’s place, I would have done the
teleclass. Because I am in the habit of
soldiering on regardless. I very nearly
got myself out of bed to make a dinner party some years back when I had
appendicitis. In the end I didn’t. But the next day I was quite happy to get
back to ‘normal’. 

The then husband
may have saved my life because by then I had peritonitis. Thinking as a physician he refused to let me
eat or drink and bundled me off to hospital. Left to my own devices I would have done nothing probably until my
appendix ruptured – which just goes to show that he wasn’t all bad.

Still, he was bad enough. It was through him that I learned to ‘deal’ with my own
disappointments. It was through him,
also, that I learned to be almost phobic about causing other people
disappointments. 

Finally, last night, I understood why. Actually, I’d never given it a thought
before. I’d assumed (wrongly) that if
you are a ‘nice person’ you just don’t disappoint someone else ever – or at
least without a very, very good reason. 

In fact it had little enough to do with being a ‘nice
person’ and everything to do with giving voice to my own disappointments in the
only way that I felt was open to me. I
wanted to protect other people from the disappointments I had felt. It was the one way I had felt that was open
to me to compensate for the disappointments I’d felt.

And thanks to Shoshana’s example I realised that:

a) it wasn’t always necessary to protect other people from
disappointment

b) it didn’t compensate.  It didn’t make me feel better.  It just gave me something more to worry about.

Disappointment, like pain, is a signal that something is
wrong and needs addressing. Sweeping it
into under the carpet of consciousness is not a solution. It only serves to prolong a damaging
situation.

 

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