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Transforming Disappointments into opportunities
Disclaimer: Not sure if this a blog post or a diary entry, but bear with me here. I think I’m onto something ...
This theme runs through the course of our history, we understand it through the lenses of philosophy, religion, art, film etc. It’s certainly not new to me as disappointment is something that I am all too familiar with but I received a new understanding, that I believe may lead to some meaningful changes for me, and I would like to share them with you.
I had a rough week largely due to the following trifecta: anxiety, headaches and negative thoughts (ugh).
Kuki left for California on Thursday and this triggered me. I have to remind myself that anxiety is not always rational. In fact, anxiety often doesn’t make sense at all as I know full well that there is no objective reason for me to feel anxious about my wife going to a teacher’s conference in sunny California. This is a wonderful opportunity of growth and learning for her in a warm climate with colleagues who are also friends. There are even benefits for me, I enjoy my own company and anticipate the alone time, creative space and reflection that her brief departure will afford.
So, it’s all good right?
Despite all this, I felt unbouyed by her leaving. I felt unboyed by the idea of her leaving. To make matters worse our furnace was making noise, I had to contact a plumber and helping her to prepare for her trip, packing and organizing was filling me with anxiety. I was counting down the days to her departure with dread!
The day before she left I had a huge migraine headache and needed to take pain medication, and wait in my car until I could muster the strength and focus to drive home. As I waited, I plummeted into a dark, desperate place where I felt deeply vulnerable, unstable and unable to function. I felt the familiar and unwelcome combo of anxiety and depression.
As if migraine pain and light sensitivity weren’t enough, the headaches almost always fill me with a crippling sense of disappointment and failure. You see, I have invested so much money, time and energy in the prevention of migraines. As traditional medicine offers little hope, I have consulted with and been treated by osteopaths, hypnotists and am currently under the care of an amazing acupressurist who has prescribed a nutritional protocol including supplements such as herbs, teas, flowers and other natural remedies, all with the goal of curing my headaches. So when I still get headaches despite these efforts I have thoughts such as, “why do I even bother, nothing will help . You are a lost cause” … among other unhelpful, negative discouragements.
Yesterday I had an acupressure session where I shared all of this and here’s what happened. During the treatment, I was asked to allow myself to feel the deep and lingering pain of disappointment in my life. I should explain that the disappointment I am processing is not the disappointment of everyday life but instead the disappointments that are a result of unmet expectations and betrayals by those you trust and love. This is far more complicated than being denied your desires for example.
At first it wasn’t easy because I couldn’t access these feelings on demand. Instead, I started to think about memories that triggered disappointment. And they started to come more and more easily. Soon, the feelings started to flow. I didn’t make any excuses for situations and people from my past, I didn’t look on the bright side, I didn’t think about forgiveness and empathy. I just felt the disappointment itself which meant allowing sadness and anger to arise as well.