There are some disappointments in life, some really HUGE ones, that are tragic and trauma filled. Then there are others that are just part of life, that feel so unfair and are not fun and are just pure and simple, really disappointing. How do you handle disappointment? Do you crawl up in a ball and not get out of bed? Or do you feel it deeply and turn those lemons into lemonade? There are so many ways to handle the ups and downs of life. Some things happen that are truly unfair and unfathomable (child loss, war, injustice). Others – it’s just life handing you something out of your control that you need to figure out how to deal with.
We experienced a bit of a heartbreak last weekend. We had a wonderful, music filled event planned for months now. Childcare set up, work schedules changed, tickets bought, food and flair acquired. The car was packed up and ready to go to meet up with friends from near and far to camp and enjoy our favorite band Phish and its music and all the fun that comes with it. Because of circumstances beyond all our control (or in our control as climate change is the true culprit), the 4 day Curveball festival was canceled last minute, just like that, due to flooding in the area and contaminated water. We were on our way, about to meet up with all our friends and have an incredible weekend (this would have been their 11th festival!) that always leaves us feeling emotionally full and filled with pure happiness and joy. It’s that much needed mental health and instant recharge.
Plan B needed to happen as we were all in shock and not ready to turn around and go home. Quickly, the last 2 campsites were found in Taughannack State Park near Ithaca and 9 of us made our way to camp on one of the beautiful Finger Lakes and cry, laugh and commiserate. Yes, no one is hurt, we are all alive and well and the band will play on. Yet, this loss was real and we were feeling it deeply. All the fun, music, memories, laughter to be had in those expected few days of hanging together at a festival were now not going to happen. We had friends traveling from all over to be together and experience something truly special. We put our disappointment into perspective, yet, here we were feeling our own disappointment and loss in the moment and it was ok. We hiked waterfalls, swam in the finger lakes, and made the best of it. Chris’ dad (who had our son) told us- you better not come back until Sunday! So we let him and Zephyr have their special weekend and we found some fun of our own. We spent a few more days with another friend in Ithaca, and just took in the beauty there. Still, I couldn’t shake the sadness.
When you have a big disappointment like this, what do you do? I spent a lot of time sighing, taking huge deep breaths and just processing my feelings. We had loads of laughs, a few cries and new memories and stories were created instead of what could have been. When people say “get over it” it’s not helpful. We are allowed to have these feelings of disappointment over a loss of expectations- and it’s normal and all part of life. During my sadness, I was also able to be mindful of the beauty around me. We hiked waterfalls and gorges and took in sites on bike around a city we’ve never been. We met some really cool new friends one night who were also sharing in our Phish misery. I really experienced it, while also feeling my loss. We can have both. We can do both. I can feel all the feelings. I can enjoy what I’m doing, yet still feel this lingering want & need for what could have been.
I’m also practicing what I teach- you are allowed to be angry, sad, excited, nervous, etc., all the BIG EMOTIONS. It’s what we do with our emotions that are important. We have the power to choose how we show up, through good or bad, sadness or joy. Yes, showing up while suffering any kind of loss, trauma, disappointment is hard. This is a small one, but common – we experience these types of losses in life all the time. These are the ones that we use to practice how we can move through and forward. Then when the big one hits, we have a few tools under our belt. What do you do? How do you get through it? Finding that balance between feeling the feels and moving through them with distractions is what works for me. I know what brings me joy and I find it as best as I can, even when sad. I love how Brene Brown shares this piece about gratitude. In order to find joy, even through trauma & loss, you need a gratitude practice. I feel grateful for the gifts that I have – my friends, my family, the music, the experiences I’ve had. Because of that, I will move through it and find my way to the other side while also allowing for those emotions to be there when they show up. For now, though, in between work and parenting and life, I’ll just be over here plotting and planning the next time I get to hang with all my favorite people and let that music fill me up and recharge my soul.