Disappointment and Grit
I’m working on a book about money, and I was thinking about self-worth. I was trying to remember the first time I felt like a failure around money, like I was not good with it or that I was like a piggy bank with no bottom, something money/value ran through.
Writing this, I started to feel like I wanted to be anywhere but in my skin, sitting here, remembering, so I went and made popcorn and shoved handfuls of that greasy, salty stuff into my mouth until I slid into a more numb, heavy state, and I was able to get back to work, my guts too shocked by sodium and the onslaught of barely-chewed food to protest memory.
If writing were easy, they’d call it recess.
When I was very young, my grandmother gave me a gold heart necklace with a diamond chip in the center. The heart was small and nicely shaped. The gold was textured, so it wasn’t shiny. The dull sheen seemed sophisticated and valuable to me. This heart hadn’t been simply stamped out of a sheet of fake gold, and, most wonderfully, the heart contained a diamond.
I stood outside the bathroom once as my mother brushed her teeth, touching the heart with my fingers. I asked my mother how much she thought it was worth, this heart necklace of mine.
My mother said maybe about twenty-five dollars.
I had a heart worth twenty-five dollars.
And then, somehow, I lost it. My gold heart had disappeared. I searched our house, looked in the cracks between the wooden slats in the floors of my room. I searched outside the bathroom, but then I stopped looking because some part of me had disappeared along with the heart. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t been able to hold on to it, and I didn’t want anyone to know how upset I was because what could they do? Actually, it wasn’t that I didn’t want anyone to know how upset I was: it’s that I didn’t want to feel my upset. I wanted to pretend that I was okay, that, so what, it was just a necklace. Who needed a heart necklace with a diamond anyway? Why should someone who can’t even keep it around her neck have a necklace like that, anyway?
It wasn’t supposed to be mine after all.
It still makes my stomach dip when I think about the fact that I lost a necklace that was special to me, a necklace that turned out to be the only piece of jewelry my grandmother, whom I loved so much, ever gave me. She had made a special trip to a store to buy me something beautiful and I had lost it.
I think that was when I started to become a colander, something through which anything of value passed. It’s as if my pelvic floor, the hammock that holds my guts and a lot of other important parts of me in place, started getting small holes in it, so I became less dependable, less whole, less able to operate as a fully functioning person.
I thought about what it means to be disappointed by your own actions, disappointed in yourself. Disappointed by and in life. I thought about how disappointment drills holes in one’s sense of self, how disappointment lets light slide out so something more slippery, something darker, can find its way in.
I Googled “how to deal with disappointment” and found a 2015 article for Psychology Today by Melanie Greenberg called “8 Ways to Bounce Back after Disappointment.” Here’s a synopsis of the article:
Face the truth of the situation.
Allow yourself to mourn lost dreams.
Don’t get stuck feeling like a victim.
Check if your expectations are realistic.
Be kind to yourself.
Look for a silver lining.
Be willing to try a different approach.
Find your grit.
I like this list because I’ve decided 2019 is the year to call bullshit on feelings or beliefs that don’t make me feel good, don’t make me feel real, don’t strengthen me. I’m willing to cry, willing to feel pain, willing to be confused, lost even, because I believe these are all part of a human living a creative life, but I don’t want to walk around feeling punched full of holes, leaking strength, leaking a sense of value. This is the year of being, as Pam Cordano taught me, a container.
I had grit for dinner tonight because I didn’t wash the spinach carefully.
Who knew I could buy grit at the market?
I’m going back tomorrow for more.
Here’s a link to the article I mentioned: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201506/8-ways-bounce-back-after-disappointment