I admit it. I am entirely self-possessed at the moment, and I expect to remain in this spiraling inner state until I learn yet again what it is about disappointment that so rocks my inner boat.
Yes. I am extremely disappointed that the event I took a big hand in arranging that was supposed to happen this coming Saturday has been trashed. But as often happens in life it is not the current circumstances that lend most weight to my inner boat-rocking that is going on right now. One event in the present often equals some version of a trauma trigger that stirs up all that muddy water from disappointments from my past.
When I speak about how I see the stress response cycle operating – which I have written about often on this blog – I find myself choosing to think about myself in my own life using the words I so easily spill out upon my blog’s cyber pages.
Thinking again about anger and as I see it existing as a FIRST STOP as one is challenged by something unexpected in life. How do I begin to untangle the pop-word ‘resentment’ from the actual physiological emotional response of anger?
Anger. The place where I am challenged to respond to a threat or to solve a problem using what I KNOW from past experience has worked to solve a similar problem in the past.
Am I angry that I have no control over most of what happens in life? Yes. That seems like a reasonable response – but only if some return to peaceful calm and a connection to balanced harmony in life can be quickly returned to by using the energy my anger creates for me creatively and postively.
What might my inner Scottish Warrior Woman self give me right now in my efforts to stabilize my own inner rocking boat? What am I battling, anyway? What is the threat I detect? What is the problem?
And how is my current disappointed connected to certain of my past disappointments that are being triggered by my current one?
I will not know unless I stare directly back at those events that are presenting themselves today on the stage of my life.
One of them happened when I was in 10th grade. My crazy, hate-full abusive mother happened to be selling what was known in 1966 as Beeline Fashions through home party shows. Mother had allowed me to ‘join’ only one social club at my high school: The Beautify America Club. All meetings were held at the school during regular school hours. We accomplished exactly nothing. I didn’t realize that. I was simply glad to be a part of something.
Mother decided – I suppose as a way of promoting her business – to contact the group – through me – with a suggestion. She wanted the club to hostess a fashion show. She would provide the garments. There was to be a raffle. The money earned for the tickets would go for the club. Mother would provide a prize to the group member who sold the most tickets.
I do not remember what the prize was. What I remember was myself knocking on every single door in the town of Eagle River, Alaska we lived in that winter as I sold raffle ticket after raffle ticket. It was a damp and muddy March. I wore a waist length light tan fake suede jacket with fake leather buttons and fake fur collar and cuffs.
One late afternoon as darkness crawled over the dirt streets I was heading home and slipped, falling fully upon my back in a soupy, sloppy mess of mud. I was devastated in terror for what Mother would do to me when she discovered that I had ‘ruined’ yet another item of clothing.
My stomach instantly knotted into fists. I scurried home as carefully as I could and was relieved beyond words when I entered our apartment to find that Mother was out grocery shopping. I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in so I could wash the mud out of my jacket – so she would never know.
Yes. I told many, many, many more tickets than did any other girl in the club. I was so hopeful that here was something I had control over, something I could actually DO that would earn me not the prize itself – which I have no memory of – but win me some acceptance and recognition and positive feelings toward me by my mother.
Nothing. The club knew I won. Mother knew I won. Nobody ever acknowledged my success in any way. Was I disappointed? Yes.
Am I still angry about this injustice? I don’t know. If I am angry, has my anger soured into a useless resentment? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is something about this event from the past that is triggered today with my current disappointment over the trashing of Saturday’s hoped-for events. Both incidents are at present in my rocking boat.
And these disappointments are – I find – interestingly – connected to another disappointment. I can tell myself now how foolish it is for me to still hold in my ‘unresolved trauma’ categories what I am going to mention next.
Only long time readers of this blog will comprehend the comprehensiveness of the insane abuse I suffered for the first 18 years of my life. Today it is not those stories that interest me. Today I am reminded of my ESCAPE from my home of origin terrors and traumas.
One month after my 18th birthday my parents put me into the Navy. I mean that exactly the way I wrote it. I knew so little at this age – so little. But I, in my typical move-ahead way took the strange turns of events in which I was captured in stride the best that I could.
I told the Naval recruiter on the day my father took me there to sign me up that I wanted to study journalism. “Fine,” the recruiter told me, not looking me in the eye, shuffling signature papers for me to sign.
I believed him. Just as certainly as I BELIEVED Mother (and the club) that I would be recognized if I sold the most tickets. I took these people at their word.
I was disappointed yet again.
There were 64 women in my boot camp company. I was the youngest. One day all of us were ushered into a room to be ‘tested’. The results of these tests would determine what school we would be sent to, and hence would determine to a large extent the trajectory of our next months/years of life.
I remember this today. I was so anxious about this testing – and so fully aware of the promise I had been given that I would be sent to journalism school – that I developed a terrible nosebleed.
There I sat squarely up to the counter with my timed-test sheets of paper coming and going it seemed at a very rapid rate, with my nose bleeding like a faucet into the scrunched up wad of Kleenex in my hand.
I did not complain. I did not ask for and certainly did not receive any special help considering my difficulties. I simply took all the tests – and ended up having the highest scores on all of the tests of the entire group of 64 women.
The disappointment: Because of my high scores I was told it would be a waste to the Navy to send me to journalism school. I was being sent to computer school instead.
Computer school? In 1969? Of course they called it data processing school – but it made no difference to me WHAT they called it. It was NOT journalism school as I had been promised. Nor did that altered course of study match one single possible skill set in my possession.
Am I angry today about this betrayal? Yes. Do I consider my anger a soured resentment? I have no idea.
What I do know is that I argue with myself about ‘daring’ to hold onto a sense of justice and injustice that creates in me some kind of energy related to wanting to fight back against something that just plain feels/seems wrong to me.
Yet today as I examine these disappointments from my past along with this new one today I see that currently there IS NO INJUSTICE. There is chance. There is circumstance. And, yes, there is disappointment.
Nobody intentionally set Linda up to fail regarding Saturday’s events and their cancellation. I volunteered for this whole thing in the first place. Obviously I know that.
(OK. I just saw a word flash through the back of my mind so fast it is gone now. What was that word? Find it, Linda! I bet it’s important…..)
Oh, here it is: RISK – DARING TO TAKE A RISK.
Did I take a risk in trying as hard as I could to sell those tickets as I REACHED into the future in trust and in hope for a reward I had been promised? Yes.
Did I take a risk in trying as hard as I could to get the best grades on those Navy tests that I could while trusting in the promise I thought I had been given that in the end I would be sent to study WRITING, my passion? Yes.
And did I take a big risk in investing great hope and energy over this past month to create an opportunity in this little town to experience a world class musical event of great value? Yes.
Was I given a PROMISE this time? NO! NO! NO! I was NOT given a promise. Therefore no promise has been broken in the events’ cancellation – no matter how disappointing this turn of events might be.
So what is the connection for me between these three events that marshals some Scottish Warrior Woman sense of outrage?
Part of me is ANGRY that life on this earth is not about promises – and therefore is not REALLY about promises either kept or broken! Life on the material level is not about rose-garden-fairness. Life on this earth is not YET about justice.
The only promise of value and worth in existence comes from God – however any of us conceive of this greatest of mysterious powers. Spiritual promises are given to humanity in the form of Covenants between people and our Creator. None of the rest of what can ever bother me is really any greater than an eaten Twinkie.
I wrote a post on February 4, 2012 titled — +KEEPING OUR SAIL TURNED INTO THE GOOD WIND OF HEALING – at the end of which I included three short prayers I use during my daily 45 minute walks. This one is especially important for me to consider right now in my anti-boat rocking efforts to still my self:
“O God, my God! Look not upon my hopes and my doings, nay rather look upon Thy will that hath encompassed the heavens and the earth. By Thy Most Great Name, O Thou Lord of all nations! I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love.”
If I am asking God not to look “upon my hopes and my doings” why do I bother my self with looking at them for my own self? Whether I am hoping for a desired prize, a desired course of study, a desired series of planned events to go off without a hitch – none of this actually matters.
What might matter to me, however, is that I dared to take a risk. And with this daring, with this risking, perhaps there is a special kind of disappointment that can happen when my glass castle crashes into the sea. True, I’ve never been one to leap from the top of a skyscraper attached to life by a gigantic rubber band, but I have upon occasion made little leaps of faith in human nature into the future.
The trick for me might be to think of some risks of daring I have undertaken in my life that had more positive endings than do the three I have noted here. But even excluding the ‘final crashed results’ of my current efforts, I have recently experienced conversations with some fine people along the way.
For now, what I am doing is simply letting go. Which is a process of grieving in its own way……
Can I currently congratulate myself for having yet again taken another leap of good faith? Not yet.
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