My 500 Words Prompt for January 26, 2014
Day 26: Write about DisappointmentWhen was there a time when you had an expectation that didn't get met? Maybe you set a goal for yourself and totally blew it.Maybe you promised something to a friend and had to let them down. Maybe life just didn't turn out the way you expected. Write about that.Tell the story, confess the failure, and help us learn with you. How can we, even in the midst of disappointment and despair, still find hope? How can we continue when all seems loss?Don't just talk about heartache; give us hope for change.
Frank Sinatra's song, "My Way," came to mind when I considered our topic for today. Allow me a little poetic license as I substitute another word for regret:
"[Disappointments], I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention."
This is not to say I've lived a charmed life; I simply refuse to let the temporary sadnesses that come along in a lifetime define my life. There are disappointments, and there are DISAPPOINTMENTS.
The uncapitalized disappointments include the incidents involving spilled milk, hangnails, ice cream that toppled off of unbalanced cones, skinned knees, and learning about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. As I was growing up, my heart was troubled by unrequited love, not earning the coveted letter for my lackluster efforts on the volleyball team, and being caught Cheating on a 7th grade science test. As a young teacher/wife/mother, my disappointments included runs in my nylons, bounced checks, negative pregnancy tests, and eventually weight gain, after three positive pregnancy tests that resulted in three delightful children. Now that I am in the thick of middle age (no pun intended), things I once saw as disappointments are now viewed as minor setbacks. My sadness comes from bigger issues.
Since entering middle age, I have dealt with the capitalized DISAPPOINTMENTS: divorce, online dating, arthritis, shopping for Poise pads (okay, that may be a lower case disappointment for some of you, but for me, it was a very, very low day), the reality of retirement "benefits," loneliness, and the death of my dad.
No one gets through life unscathed. We will all have setbacks. It is how we REACT to those obstacles that is more important than the events themselves.
When my first two children were very young, they were fun to observe. My oldest was very dramatic. It did not matter what happened to him, he was going to offer us the most theatrical response possible. I used to tease that whether he had a sliver in his finger or had just been decapitated, we could be sure that wailing would be involved. I'm not sure he thought I was very funny. Then there was his little sister.
One day, Sierra came tearing through the kitchen, as little ones are wont to do, and she ran right into the edge of the countertop with her forehead. The impact swept her off her feet, and knocked her on her butt, and I steeled myself for the tears. She rubbed her head with her little toddler hands, pushed herself up, and simply said, "Ouch. That hurt," and off she went in pursuit of her original goal.
I'm happy to say that all three of my children have learned to deal with the misfortunes and downers that have come into their lives. Dylan is no longer so dramatic, unless we're talking about impersonations and joke-telling; Sierra has triumphed time and time again over setbacks and challenges, and their younger brother Bridger has been able to see the silver linings in the clouds that occasionally hang over his head.
It's all in how we perceive the trials that come our way. They can define us, or they can teach us lessons. What are we willing to learn about ourselves as we face the challenges that are sure to come? We can try to numb ourselves with sleep, or food, or whatever our preferred drug of choice may be, but our problems will still be there when we decide to return to reality, or we can "LEAN INTO THE DISCOMFORT" (thank you, Brené Brown), and learn and grow.
These last several weeks I have been served up some trials that have doubled me over with grief, and have caused uncontrollable sobbing during my darkest hours. Rather than stuff down these disappointments, I have decided to pay them their respects. I've examined each situation, and determined there are life lessons to be learned, and unless I want to learn them time and time again, I had best figure out what needs to be taken from these experiences so that I can grow from them.
Life may not always be easy for you, but I'd like to wager that your joys will always outweigh your disappointments. You never need to see yourself as a failure, if you are willing to learn from your experiences, and be willing to allow yourself to become a better person for rising above your challenges. As long as you're learning, you are not failing. Disappointments may come, but don't let them take up residence in your heart. You can always get to the other side of sadness, but not without some work. Learn what you can from your setbacks, and then release the sadness, knowing that there are better things in store for you, and happier days ahead.