Emotional Baggage

Disappointment

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:

Dear K,
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*.
-G
*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?

19 thoughts on “Disappointment

  1. I used to not state my disappointment, but doing so–in a non-confrontational way–helped clear the air. In the rare cases I got really bad responses, I was glad for the useful information into how solid my friendships with certain people actually were.

    I did make a switch from emailing to talking since that generally yielded better results for me. I’m glad this turned out well for you!

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    1. Thanks for your reply. I would have loved to talk in person to her but we hardly talk over those phone. 99% of our interaction is text/email. Maybe if we chatted on the phone more, I wouldn’t have been relying so heavily on our date… Who knows…

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      1. There are so many factors in decisions like these! Whereas you’re able to boil your feelings down succinctly, my emails were long and unclear, leading their recipients to feel a little … attacked? I would probably fare a little better these days.

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  2. I think that middle ground was absolutely the healthiest decision for you to make. I can relate to wanting to keep disappointment in, and also feeling bad for all those insecure and selfish reasons. I think it’s good to share the disappointment, but since the other feelings come from a place of insecurity and other issues, then it might be better to discuss them with someone outside the situation (like a counsellor). So, good call 🙂

    I hope you’re feeling okay about it all!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I still feel like maybe it was immature to have to say anything at all. Who knows… Maybe it’s just the discomfort from doing something that I don’t normally do.

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  3. I spent many years holding in my disappointment in one particular friend (now ex-friend). Had I spoke up, things may have been different, but I’m not convinced. I think you did the right thing by expressing your disappointment. Sometimes I wish I had.

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    1. I hope you’re right… I had a friend like you describe too – now ex as well. I’m not sure it would have made a difference, and the reason we aren’t friends anymore is because I finally did speak up. My friendship with K is much more valuable to me.

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  4. I think you handled it the way it could be expected, especially since the move. I liked the email and it said what you needed for her to know without invoking guilt or blame.

    Here’s hoping you can see each other again soon!

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  5. Your connection about feeling disposable in this friendship really hit home. I have a BFF (her term) who has repeatedly neglected our rendezvous. Like you, I’ve been unwilling to be honest with her, leaving me feeling abandoned and disposable. I like your middle ground (honest & compassionate) and will try to learn from it.

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    1. Thanks. I’m sorry that this hit home for you, though. I really hope that my actions had the desired effect. I’m not sure that I really feel much better about it. I guess that means I just have to work more on my underlying insecurities, maybe?

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  6. It’s very hard for me to tell people when they disappoint me and it does tend to make me feel worse. But K seems very nice and I would safely have assumed that she wouldn’t take it badly. I guess I’ve been raised to be “understanding” but at some point I started taking it too far and now a lot of people just do what they want because I will always say “it’s okay”, Expressing my disappointment is definitely something I need to become more comfortable with. Kudos to you, and I do hope that you will be able to see K soon!

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    1. I feel like sometimes when you are always the understanding one, it is easy to be taken for granted: “Oh, G always understands, so she’ll understand this time to.” I’m not sure that people often realize the “why” behind why we are always so understanding.

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  7. It’s a hard one. I usually keep things to myself. I’m pretty disappointed in a few of the friends I left behind in Germany because on my arrival back in England I had a major bad thing happen in my life, and so I told a few of my friends. Not one has messaged again to check up on me. Sometimes I just have to tell myself that I get a lot more sentimental and put a lot more importance on friendship than other people.

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