When someone disappoints you, do you tell them, or do you keep it to yourself?
I usually keep it to myself. I’ve learned, however, that by not expressing my feelings, the disappointment grows and festers and breeds resentment. That’s why this time I did it differently.
This coming weekend I was supposed to meet K out of town (half way between our cities) for a 10K run. We had been planning this “run date” for months – since before I moved. She told me a month ago that there was a potential conflict that came up and she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to come – she wasn’t going to know for sure until the weekend before. I tried to remain cautiously optimistic. It was difficult, however; I was using this running date as a goal or endpoint to try and survive the first three months of my new life. I was also looking forward to it because I needed some time to spend with a friend – in real life. Unfortunately, the conflict persisted and K had to cancel our run. For a while I was thinking of going by myself – but I’ve since decided against it. I’ll just run 10K in my own city to get the exercise.
When she first mentioned it to me a month ago, I felt hurt, unimportant, and disposable – almost like the commitments made to me were less important than anything else. I knew at the time that those feelings were selfish and based on insecurities. It was clear that she faced a difficult decision about the commitments she had and she was forced to make a decision that would let someone down. So, I didn’t say anything about how I felt.
When this week came and she cancelled on my for sure, I still just kept it to myself. But I felt bad – I still felt disposable. And as the days passed, I realized how much I had invested in the trip to meet up with K. On Wednesday I had an appointment with my new counsellor and we talked about it briefly. I told her how I was feeling and that I didn’t want to tell K because I didn’t want to make her feel bad (or worse) – and how not telling her was making me feel worse about myself. She suggested I find a middle ground: I don’t have to tell her all the (probably selfish and unreasonable) insecure feelings, but I also don’t need to dispose of my feelings like they don’t matter.
“She disappointed you. There is nothing wrong with expressing that.”
After thinking about it for a day, I decided that I needed to say something. Last night I was having a hard time sleeping and I realized I was ruminating about it, so I wrote a very simple email:
I am disappointed that [the run] isn’t happening. It was very important to me; I think even more than I realized myself.
I didn’t say anything earlier because I didn’t want to make you feel bad – I already know that you feel bad. I’m not telling you with the intention of making you feel bad or guilty, but I think that not telling you makes me feel worse. I just want to be open with you about it.
You had a hard decision to make, and your […] needs you. I don’t think you are a crappy friend*.
*She had previously commented hat cancelling on me makes her a crappy friend
I felt good about sending it, but I worried all night about how it would make her feel and I wondered how she would respond. This morning she sent me a reply, and of course, it was okay.
How do you deal with these kinds of situations? Would you have done the same thing?