Disappointment is such a complicated emotion. For me, I can feel it everywhere in my body. From the back of my throat— the desperation of tears welling and the choking response that comes as a result — all the way down in my gut, leaving me feeling both off-balance and slightly sick. I think another reason disappointment is so visceral is because it also leaves you feeling shamed for letting yourself believe one outcome, when the reality was something different. It sucks.
The last time I felt this resounding disappointment was election night 2016. I remember driving home from Santa Monica and the already brutal hour plus commute was almost unbearable. I was freshly out of my first trimester of pregnancy, so the nausea was starting to subside and yet, I almost threw up several times on that car ride home. By the time I made it home, most of the states were being called for Trump. My husband had coverage playing onto our wall from the projector. I could barely make myself watch. I woke up that morning excited and hopeful about electing our first female President. I was also eagerly awaiting the genetic test results from our 13-week-old fetus. “How amazing would it be if we found out we were having a girl the same day we elect our first female President?” I foolishly asked my husband that morning. In less than 24 hours from making that statement, neither would come to fruition. That crushing disappointment would live in my bones for months to come. And as I discovered this week— it would never truly go away.
It’s been two years. Our world has changed a lot since then. I personally have changed a lot since then. And yet, as I put on my “Let’s Make Bad Men Losers” tee and put my hair into “Princess Leia” buns, that same fear crept into my body. That feeling of helplessness, trepidation, and sorrow. I ate my way through a dozen cookies and four biscuits. Work was keeping me busy and my mind occupied, but the “what if’s” resounded in my head. Not even my precious baby could do much to assuage my mood.
After getting off a particularly frustrating work call, I walked into my living room to see my normally happy-go-lucky son in the middle of a crying fit (his front teeth are coming in, and he’s not happy). He was looking up at our projector, which was broadcasting the early returns from the election. Even with my baby’s presence in the room, it felt too familiar and it all felt like too much. I swallowed down the rising anxiety in my stomach and asked my husband to turn off the TV. “I’m going to have a panic attack.” It wasn’t about the politics. Not completely, anyway. It’s because election day 2016 is forever tied to the trauma of losing my first pregnancy. And now apparently all elections will be a trigger for me.
Maybe in time it’ll get easier. Or maybe I’ll have to do what I did on election night and and just turn off for a bit. Focus on something else. Remind myself that things aren’t the same as they were two years ago. People are more aware than they were. I have a baby. I weathered that storm of trauma and came out the other side.
And now as I’m editing this post, my heart is breaking for another reason. I woke up this morning to the news that the bar I used to frequent when I was younger (the first bar I ever went to, in fact) is the latest place where a mass shooting occurred. As I scrolled through social media, and frantically text and called my cousin making sure he was okay, a different kind of fear and sadness washed over me.
These are scary and hard times. I normally try to end these posts with something positive to reflect on, but sometimes the reality isn’t positive or a learning positive. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be disappointed. Hopefully these feelings are fleeting. But, please take care of yourself when you’re experiencing it. That’s what I’m going to do.