How Disappointment Shows Your Hidden Hopes and Expectations

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com

About a week ago, I wrote this post about my process on whether to go for developmental testing for my son. I wrote about the benefits of a possible diagnosis and what brought us to seeing it that way instead of avoiding any kind of label.
In this post, I also wrote about the early signs that my son was just a little bit different from other children his age.

Well, yesterday morning we had a meeting at the center to discuss the results of the tests. After a long overview of the observations they made, we finally did receive a diagnosis (for privacy purposes and to respect the father’s wishes, I won’t disclose the diagnosis itself. It’s not a life threatening ilness.)

I had gone to the meeting expecting this diagnosis, or so I had hitherto assumed. I had told family and certain friends, I had looked at my son’s behavior and explained it in that context and I had put out some gentle feelers into doing research on the subject.
But when the words finally came, I felt them hit me right to the core, like a sucker punch to the heart. My emotions somewhat surprised me, but it didn’t take me very long to find out what was behind them. I realised that I had told others I expected one thing, but I was secretly hoping for something else. I may even have been counting on a ‘suspected’ diagnosis, with room for my son to ‘grow out of it’. Hearing the words actually made it sink in deep, and suddenly the way he is, the struggles he has, have become real and unchanging, even though he is still the same person he was the day before.

In this disappointment, I found myself having to let go of dreams and expectations I had for the long run. I suddenly saw myself putting question marks next to future events which I had never doubted before. The disappointment was the tip of the iceberg, with layers and layers of grief below the surface. I’ve only just started diving below. This will require time and space to fully discover all the emotions and thoughts that go with this journey.

I recognize this disappointment from other situations, too. Times where I came home to find my partner lying on the couch, resting after a long day’s work, only to feel disappointed that my kitchen still looked a mess.
Or times where I hear my kids going to the bathroom early, wait 15 minutes and find myself irritated because they went back to bed instead of getting dressed.
In both those cases I bump into unmet expectations that I wasn’t even aware of.

As I’ve written before in this post, expression your expectations to others is incredibly important in relationships. But finding out what they are is, of course, a prerequisite for that to happen. You can’t express what you’re not aware of. The disappointment you feel is the bigges clue you have in this regard. And imagining an event happening can help you figure out whether you might be disappointed in a certain way (though this visualisation method isn’t foolproof).

My way of dealing with this emotional rollercoaster of a day was to give room to my feelings. After we got the news, I went to help on a project at my kids’ school which involved some manual labor. It felt good to get out of my head and do something completely different. It gave time for the news to sink in.
Later that afternoon, I took some time for yoga and a bath, staying with the emotions and feeling where they resided in my body.

Where I had, perhaps, hoped this was the end of a journey, we now find ourselves at the beginning of a path which I can’t predict. I have absolutely no clue about what to expect for my son’s future, for our future. This raises feelings of uncertainty, of fear and of grief.
The only certainty I do have is the support I have around me, my deep love and unwavering commitment to doing the best I can for my son, and the faith that that will be enough.

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