What do you do with hurt and disappointment?

I've been reading Carry On, Warrior, written by Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery fame.

There is a chapter in which she beautifully -- and hilariously -- describes her first birthday after getting married. (Here's a link to it, if you want to read it yourself.)

In a nutshell: Her new husband didn't know that birthday celebrations were a huge deal to her, and didn't do much to honor her special day, which left her feeling hurt and disappointed. Then two great things happened: 1) she told him what she actually wanted and why; and 2) he gladly gave it to her.

Could it really be that easy? 

No, it isn't always. But reading her story, I realized there was a lot more I could do to make those win-win scenarios more likely to happen in my relationships, both in asking and in giving.

When people hurt and disappoint me, do I let them know, or keep my mouth shut and pretend everything is fine?

You don't really need all that special treatment, I could imagine saying to myself in the birthday scenario, trying to talk myself out of the disappointment. Why not just let him be who he is, and try to appreciate all the other things he does well?

Thoughts like that can make me feel strong and self-reliant, but they also tell me that what I want is unimportant, which can make me feel resentful and victimized. And by not letting people know their impact on me, I rob them of the information they need to truly make me happy. It is not nice!

When I am at my best, the conversation in my head is different: It is okay to ask for things, I might say. You won't always get what you want, but you are big enough to handle that. It doesn't mean you were wrong for asking. After all, the point of asking is not to bend other people to your will, but simply to remind yourself that you matter. Because you do matter. You deserve to be happy!

When other people have the courage to tell me what they want from me, do I help them get it, or do I resist?

I don't always listen to people when they tell me what they want. This can't possibly be as important to them as they say it is, I've thought more than once. They just don't know what's good for them. Or: It's really unfair of them to ask that of me. Don't they know it's out of my comfort zone? 

Again, these are all justifiable thoughts, but talking myself out of being generous comes with a cost. It leaves a person I care about feeling unheard and unimportant, while I miss out on the joy of making them happy. And I am left alone in my "comfort" zone, feeling self-righteous and small.

What is the alternative? 

It is okay to try something and fail, I remind myself. Maybe you will embarrass yourself. Maybe you will do your best and they will still be disappointed. But their disappointment is not under your control. You are only in control of what you do. And you will sleep better knowing that you tried, that you loved someone enough to take a risk on their behalf, and that you are bigger and more courageous than you thought.

May we all get better and better at this.