I’m not sure which is worse, being disappointed or disappointing someone else. But I know this. It sucks.
In a committed relationship, it’s toxic. Disappointment sucks the trust out of the relationship. The disappointed party feels like they can’t trust the other. My very good friend says that disappointment feels so bad because it’s so many other crappy emotions rolled up in a bad burrito. Betrayal, abandonment, loss, fear - and they all come together and manifest as pissed off.
When I’ve been the disappointer, there’s no real recourse. I did what I did. I didn’t think it through. I made a commitment and then I didn’t think it was important enough to keep. I didn’t know what the repercussions would be. And there’s just no bandaid for it. I apologize, and it doesn’t feel like enough. A time turner a la Harry Potter would be welcome. If wishing could make it so.
It’s the same when you’re the disappointee too. Sometimes the disappointment is relatively small, albeit insidious and it grows and grows like a sinkhole and at some point, the destabilization is so great that the shadow of resignation completely eclipses the love. Sometimes the disappointment is so huge the anger subsumes everything else. It’s hard to get past disappointment in a satisfying way.
My ex used to say sooner or later, everyone is a disappointment. When he would say that, it stank of negativity to me. When I play it back in my mind now, I hear it as a dose of reality. It is one hundred percent true. The toilet seat lid is up, again. My son says he’ll call back and he doesn’t. A promised raise doesn’t come through. A new friend is not as responsive as I’d expected. The country elects a racist, misogynistic oligarch wannabe. Divorce is a daily assault of disappointment for months if not years.
Maybe you remember Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda where he opens the safe and it’s empty. He’s so baffled and furious - he bursts out with a vehement “DISAPPOINTED!”. It’s an absolutely clear expression. I love that scene.
In my ‘research’ on disappointment, I found this great quote: Assuming is the root of all disappointments. You can hear the truth in that, right? Doesn’t every apology for disappointing someone begin with either “I thought” or “I didn’t think”?
I disappointed someone that I love this week, you may have surmised by now. As I struggled with my feelings, a wise friend suggested that I use it as material. And that’s perfect because life is the canvas here at Perfect Avocado and as Tommy Ramone said, it ain’t all cocaine and cupcakes.
So, what to do? As I sit here writing, that’s the question that percolates in the background. And I believe the thing to do is forgive. Of course, I ask for forgiveness, but I also offer it. I wish to forgive my thoughtlessness so that I don’t define myself or this relationship through the lens of this shitty feeling. I’m still, actually, a good person, this is still a good relationship. I forgive her for being disappointed. I forgive her for feeling shitty. I forgive my assumptions and I forgive hers.
I hope this doesn’t sound trite. I realize that when I say forgive, I don’t mean absolve. I mean, let that shit go. All those examples that I listed above, they’re all perfect examples of holding on to something that doesn’t serve. It’s better to pull a Kevin Kline, shout DISAPPOINTED; admit your offense; apologize honestly and sincerely, and try to do better. For either of us to hold on to our position is to bury our friendship one spoonful at a time.
So, while my ex was right, everyone is a disappointment sooner or later, but what’s missing is a commitment to forgive. To love them anyway, in the face of their frail and flawed humanity. This is no Pollyanna way of being in the world. This is challenging work requiring lots of practice. This is the crux of the great question, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Again, simple, but not easy. Waaaay back during my divorce, I was raving to my friend on the phone and she said, “this is so hard, Pam, but I think you just have to let it go”. I think I remember that so vividly because at the time, I thought she was stark raving mad. But she is truly one of the smartest women I know, so attention must be paid. It took nearly four years, but I finally forgave him. Again, he’s not absolved. But for me to hang on to all that bitterness would only serve to sour my life.
If you’re ready to let that shit go, or even if you’re not sure what you need to let go, then join us in Costa Rica in May 2022. We promise you a whole new perspective!