Disappointment creates new opportunities

Disappointment leads to creativity

Disappointment seems an odd emotion to experience at my age, especially over trivial things. You’d think a person over eighty would have weathered so much adversity they’d never feel let down again. But we’re led to expect peace and serenity in old age. Wisdom. A calm acceptance of the world and all it contains. Sadly, the myths around ageing challenge those about marriage and motherhood for their silliness!

I have no valid reason to complain or feel distress. The time of COVID-19 sits lightly where we live. No one I know has died of the virus. Very few friends, in other places, have been infected, and only one severely. Lock-downs caused me little distress. One grandchild lives in another state.  I miss her, but she remains well and happy. We are blessed. Hard borders and vigilance keep Western Australia almost COVID free.

Elsewhere, the pandemic delivers serious setbacks and heartbreak. The deaths of loved ones without consoling contact or proper funerals. Severe illness. The debilitation of long-Covid. Fear. Lost jobs and businesses. Increased mental illness and family violence. Marriages and travel – cancelled. Family reunions and homecomings – postponed. Theatre and live music – gone. 

Trivial disappointment should not trouble me. I’m surprised by my reaction.

My disappointment

These things happened.

  • My nieces planned a spectacular celebration for the 80th birthday of their mother, my sister, Elizabeth Worts. It included a weekend at a beach resort at Dunsborough in the South-West. Family and friends had months to plan and  anticipate. I bought a new dress. 
  • An invitation to the 21st birthday celebration of John’s granddaughter arrived.
  • John planned to spend a few days at Busselton with his daughter. I looked forward to time alone to write.

But John became ill. I cancelled all our plans. I grew despondent and spent time alone, often tearful. My lovely dress hung, unworn, in the wardrobe. 

Time to press ‘reset button’ on disappointment

After complaining in my morning pages, I decided to ‘get on with things’.  That’s a useful phrase, one I’ve used a lot this year. You can read more about it in my blog, ‘Baby steps on the road to recovery…’ 

To go on feeling miserable wouldn’t help anyone. I needed to work out what would make me feel better. And then to do something different. 

Before long, I had written a list of things I’d like to do while house-bound.

  • Go to the storage room that comes with our apartment and collect my summer clothes for the new season.
  • Sort and get them ready to wear. Take those I no longer love or which don’t fit to a charity shop.
  • Take up a hem or two on dresses that are too long.
  • Declutter my room.
  • Check Google for articles about labyrinths and find addresses of those close to our apartment.
  • Plan, and perhaps start to make, the ‘boro’ bag I’ve been thinking about.
  • Play music.
  • Wear the new dress to Mass on Sunday.
  • Enjoy the celebration photos on Facebook and comment.

My plan worked. Before I got half-way through the list, my heavy mood lifted and normality was restored. I didn’t write, but it didn’t matter. Other creativity kicked in. The week I hoped would be productive also became playful, fun and healing. A bit like a holiday, really.¬†

Here’s a link to a helpful article by Maggie Wooll: 5 proven ways to deal with disappointment¬†

I’d love to hear the ways you deal with disappointment. Please comment on the blog.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. Maureen, I love the way you dealt with your disappointment, brushed yourself up and started all over again.
    I’m like you, I have always appreciated time alone, peace and quiet and to be able to do exactly as I please.

    So, how have I dealt with disappointment? Well, I’ve sat here trying to think of an example but I can’t think of anything. That must mean I’m never disappointed or I have a dreadful memory!

    I think I’m very fortunate to have my family living close by. My children have all lived away but they all came back. It’s still too early to wonder where my oldest grandchildren will settle.

    I accepted eighteen months of the pandemic and long months of lockdowns as being what it is. I haven’t minded my time alone nor the cancellation of events.

    I have been fortunate. Joss was in my bubble and was allowed to visit, though with a smile I could say that it was very unfortunate seeing as he gave me Covid!

    We have always tried to live as two separate households, just as we would if she lived elsewhere, but having Victoria living next door has meant I’ve never been entirely alone during our lockdowns, a couple of times a week she would put a chair in our connecting doorway at her side, I would sit at the furthest point in the room and we’d have a chat from there.

    Most mornings on her way to work she’d ring me from her car phone (when schools were open) , though she’s done that since I retired.

    When people were allowed to meet outdoors in small groups in open spaces such as parks but not allowed to meet at home in our gardens, we cheated.

    We felt common sense should prevail and because we have the large open spaces that we have here, we invited the family to join us, the little ones could run around in the fresh air and play and we sat around at a safe physical distance from one another.

    Winter outside was not as inviting. This year Simon built a fantastic outdoor shelter, this meant that no one needed to be indoors we made do with warm clothes and a blanket and an outdoor heater. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Now of course, everything is unrestricted and open again, but we are still cautious indoors. And from now on until I have my flu vaccination I will take extra care, I am more fearful of catching the flu and having a chest infection than I am of catching the coronavirus again.

    1. Dear Sue,

      I enjoyed your detailed account of your lockdown life with your family. You have the ideal set-up, with the family next door and what I gather is a shared or almost shared garden. My daughter, Jenny, also calls me often on her way to work or home and we see each other a couple of times a week and I’m grateful. We live an unrestricted life, as I’ve often said. But always add the rider, ‘for the present’. There are less than 50% of the adult populations fully vaccinated in Western Australia, for a number of reasons including the vaccine being directed to states with active COVID-19 cases to the detriment of here.

      We have freedoms hardly imagined elsewhere, including for example, a crowd of 61,000 at the Australian Rules Grand Final Football played in the Perth stadium last weekend. But we are frequently reminded that we may have cases at any time, so that many people are anxious. It’s good to be doubled dosed and flu jabbed!

      Thanks again for your comment. Mx

  2. HI Maureen I am so sorry to hear you have been down for a while but it’s wonderful that you have found such a positive way to bounce out of it. I really admire your courage and creativity in troubled times and you are always an inspiration to me. Your wisdom is wonderful and great food for the soul and for that I am always grateful.

    When I am disappointed I also sometimes get more creative and think of new creations I could make to counter the frustration and/or disappointment or turn a lemon into a lemonade; sometimes I also make dot point notes of all that I’m frustrated about and then list the things I can do to counter these things. Lists are succinct, unemotional, easier to prioritize and also easier to check through each day and mark off as I do them or discard them.
    But the main thing is to congratulate you Maureen, on working through this challenge, and well done for the lovely ways you have worked turned your lemon into ‘Sparkling Maureen Lemonade’
    Many thanks for your wonderful and inspiring writing as always

    Tricia

    1. Hi, Tricia and thank you for your thoughtful (and helpful) response to my post about disappointment and new opportunities. I’m pleased that your response to frustration and disappointments is often to be even more creative that you usually are, which is hard for me to imagine. I also write lists about all the things that frustrate, hurt or disappoint me. By the time I’ve worked out there’s nothing I can do about most of them, and crossed them off the list, I’ve had a new bubble of energy. Magic! I love hearing from anyone else who has this experience.

      I’m grateful that you are such an interested and responsive reader of my posts. It makes writing them all the more worthwhile. Thank you again.

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