What is the shape of disappointment? I know how it feels, and how it looks on another’s face, how it infiltrates the hours that follow, how it changes an opinion, a truth, a person, but if I had to pick a shape, to visually explain it, I think I would opt for a broken circle.
A broken circle tells me it can’t quite arrive. It began, quite the thing, knowing it was heading for Circledom and then stopped short of completion. Therefore it is no longer a circle, because there is no such thing as half a circle, or a bit of a circle, or, even a circl.
We like to know what lies ahead, or as much of it as is possible through the cloudy eyes of a mere human being. To know everything would surely require considerably more A levels than I ever took, which, by the way, was none. Well, I never got the chance once I was expelled.
And so, we strain to see as much as we can of what lies ahead, completing the circle as we mentally arrive at our destination, factoring in room for the unknowns and unforeseens, but still confident to varying degrees that we will, indeed, arrive.
But what happens when everything changes in a heartbeat and our circle is broken? Not because we faltered on the journey, lost heart and turned back and not because we changed our minds about setting off at all, but because someone, or something took it all away.
Pouf! Just like that.
And all those wise sayings about how Disappointment Will Pass and how it Makes Us Stronger can just go and flush themselves down the loo, because I have a raging miserable fury inside of me right now that just might boil up all over you if you tell me once more that I’ll feel better soon, because I plan never to feel better, ever again.
I remember my first big disappointment very well. Early days of motherhood, dressed for a party and looking forward to it overly much.
We can’t go, he said. The corn dryer’s broken down and I have to fix it.
And then he went back out on the farm.
I sat down on the bed, in my pretty dress and sobbed until all my face had melted into my palms. Then came the rage, which was dark red and black and full of forked lightening and thunderous door slamming.
The circle was broken. I know it was only a party but for a young mother, just to dress up and go out was such a big deal and had meant days of a champagne anticipation.
And nobody let me grieve, including myself. I was spoilt, petulant, selfish with nothing in the fridge for supper.
Disappointment is not allowed to show its face ravaged with tears and mascara, nor can it open its mouth and roar into the sky, because, firstly, there is something alarming about a woman with her mouth wide open, spraying anger and deep grief all over the place; secondly others share that sky and have seats at the top table and, thirdly, we’re British, with all our lips buttoned up tight.
So what do we do with it, any of us?
Well, I have learned that disappointment is indeed part of life and that the jagged wound it makes, does heal, although I don’t want to hear you tell me that. I’ll discover that for myself.
I have also learned that the only person who can deal with the grief I feel at a disappointment, is me, and if I want to roar into ‘our’ sky, you can just block your ears.
You might consider practising the odd roar yourself.
Clears a whole pavement in seconds.