Emotional Baggage


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*.
*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!


    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…


      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.


  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!


    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.


  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.


    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.


  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!


  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.


    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?


  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!


    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.


  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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