Rejection through the Ages
Rejection always has been a hot button issue for me. It wounds more than anything could, twisting my heart like a dishrag and dripping all the dirty sudsy water right into my stomach, giving me a very queasy feeling. Oddly enough, I actually think rejection is one of the things that led me to having this blog, because I’ve trained myself to tell people all sorts of things about myself quickly in our relationship. I’d much rather them leave me early, rather than later, when it will hurt so much more.
What’s unfortunate is I have so many examples in my life of why I feel rejection so deeply. Here’s just a few.
When I was around 8 years old, I was invited over to a friend’s house to play. Frankly I don’t even remember the girl’s name. But I do remember how thrilled I was because I had been wanting to become better friends with this girl for ages. When I got there, she informed me in no uncertain terms that I had been the 6th choice for the playdate, but no one else had been available.
When I was in high school, I had been very close with two girlfriends. You know where this is going, because rarely does a 3-girl-triangle ever work out. I did have one other friend I would consider my “BFF” but, other than her, these girls were it for me. One evening in the beginning of junior year, they were supposed to come pick me up so we could drive around and end up at McDonald’s like everyone else in the area did, and they just never showed.
I called and called. I worried that they had been hurt in some drive-thru deep-fry accident. But no, they simply decided I wasn’t hot enough while they pursued a pair of soccer players on the varsity team. We never spoke again.
Until about 15 years later, when, now, I am back in touch with both of them via occasional email and Christmas cards, but we have skirted around that weirdness in high school.
Imagine having your best friends, people you spend about half of your time with for two years suddenly pretending you don’t exist? Walking past you in the hall like they have never known you? When the week before you would have exchange about six notes in passing? That stuff hurts.
I had a boyfriend in college who I now facetiously call “The Liar.” Oh man, did he ever take me for a ride. I am mortified when I think back at the lines he fed me, the ways he manipulated, the girls he was seeing behind my back, and the overall way he messed with my head for about 2 years.
We used to go out dancing about an hour away from my college. He lived about 20 minutes south, so I would alway pick him up on my way down.
One night, I stopped to pick him up, and his roommates were all there, but he wasn’t. Supposedly. They “weren’t sure.” I could “try and knock.” Maybe “he is asleep.” So, I stood there, in utter humiliation, knocking at his bedroom door, fairly sure he was in there, hiding from me and they were all just having a big laugh at my expense. But I wanted him to come out so badly, I didn’t care. So I knocked more times than I should have, left, and cried the whole way home.
Ouch, it hurts even typing that.
And I know I’m not alone in these types of stories, we all have our battle scars (feel free to share them in the comments if you are up for it).
What has been wild for me is how these feelings of rejection can resurface through our children. Completely irrational and unexpected – but they jump and claw at you, because they are part of you.
My son Declan had a playdate this weekend. He was bouncing off the walls all day in anticipation and literally skipped up the walkway to his friends house. We knocked on the door and were giggling with each other.
And then there was no answer.
I knocked again. No answer. Checked the time. 2:30. OK, right time. I called their number. Voicemail.
So, I trotted Declan back to the car and we waited. And waited. I started to redirect him into something else just as fun, as he was so disappointed. I assured him that his friends must have just been hung up (as we later found out was the case) and that they would certainly set up another playdate and all would be fine.
As we were about to drive away, Declan asked me to knock – just one. more. time.
And so I did. And all I felt was humiliation as my knuckles scraped the wood.