Friday, January 10, 2020

Rejection and Self-reverence

I was hovering around this blog for weeks in consideration of an unflinching post on rejection. It's something I've been thinking about with absolute vigor lately.

More often than not, young me got what (I thought) I wanted or went after or who I wanted and went after. I never paused to identify this wildly good fortune until I began to repeatedly experience the opposite. I should acknowledge that it's lucky, for this new normal to feel foreign and disarming. Instead I've just felt really fucking terrible.

I've been affronted by rejection over the past year. As if the world tipped on its axis and switched poles and suddenly I don't feel like I fit into the scope and scale of my own life or body the way that I used to.

I felt increasingly alone through these series of let downs. I opened this blog repeatedly- I wanted to relate to someone else. Wanted to say something real and raw about what it is to go through rejection, or to not fit in or feel right: at work, or in your own relationships, or simply to want something that doesn't want you back. How awful and disarming it can be. As much as I considered it and tried, I couldn't find the proper words to express the insidiousness of feeling un-chosen.

On I went though, thinking and feeling-often shitty. Slowly I felt less rejected and more redirected. It didn't go away. I just started to imagine what the Universe could be doing (slyly) to support a future that I can't see, but that eagerly awaits me. I also ruminated a lot on patience and timing, and the way that rejection can sometimes be an indication of wrong place or time, rather than wrong desire or dream. I forced myself to see and translate situations I was going through differently. To step outside of myself-which wasn't easy, and couldn't be rushed.

I started by simply considering the possibility that other people's dismissal or my mismatch for situations wasn't a grave indication that I suck/ am utterly without merit. That was actually hard work. Because when we feel slighted or rejected, it's incredibly difficult not to spiral into thoughts of self criticism and shame. It's hard not to feel like a sack of shit. When I let myself contemplate other possible explanations as to why people would say No, or pass over me, or not deem me right for things, I began to see that it might be within reason that it wasn't as personal as it felt.


Another thing that began to take place was a recurring vision of my dead friend rolling her eyes at me and my self loathing. She never had a lot of patience for my shit anyway. Imagine how livid our beloved dead would be, if they witnessed how much of this living we waste sulking in judgement and shame, rather than flailing our arms wildly, jumping in lakes naked, sleeping too little, and telling everyone how much we love them while we still can-including ourselves.

When we experience rejection and its brutal impact on our self esteem, we are prone to make really poor, less than supportive decisions. Our coping mechanisms are rarely in competition with one another for healthiest or safest. It's normal to want to numb the pain of feeling left out or unwanted. But as the poet Yung Pueblo says, "Maturity is knowing that when your mood is down, you should not trust the way you see yourself."

Unfortunately/fortunately, nothing lasts forever. The upside of impermanence is that our worst feelings and embarrassing moments are transitory. We can transmute them with patience and a commitment to persevere. Cultivating a deep and enduring self-reverence might be the best defense we have against a sometimes cruel and always unpredictable world. A place where the scales tip willy nilly and we don't always get what we want-and even more rarely, when we want it.

"The nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing." -Stephen King

For many of us it doesn't feel authentic or sincere to claim we adore ourselves. Especially when we're going through situations that seem to be screaming that we aren't good enough. I don't have the answer for the big question of self-reverence, or a password to get us there. But I continue to take stabs at it. I also have a few tried and true methods for combating the emotional experience of rejection. Be soft, go slow. I'm still tunneling my way through-

*Cancel negative self talk (I'm being literal here: say CANCEL! internally at your own thoughts when they start to go haywire. Or DONE, STOP, OVER. NOPE.)

*Write a list of things that are great about you. I keep mine in my phone and gleefully add to it when I think of something, or when I'm inspired by a random compliment. Then I scroll back through it when I'm feeling like crap.
(Examples: I have an unbelievable knack for predicting plot twists and endings. I am a wealth of great recommendations, especially for food or art. I'm reliable. I'm loyal.)

*Stop taking things personally. It's so very rarely about YOU. Consider any and all possible reasons why a rejection or dismissal would not actually be about you. Be creative in your analysis.

*Do good. Give compliments. Reach out to people like your grandma who are always thrilled to hear from you, who think you are the cat's pajamas. Gather food to donate to the food bank. Do something that puts the focus outwards and allows you to stop obsessing over yourself and your seeming lack.

*Whenever possible, get yourself around people who remind you of your greatness. People who support you and are plainly stoked to spend time with you. We are social creatures and sometimes we need to see ourselves through the vantage of someone who loves us in order to be reminded of our worthiness. We spend way too much time obsessing over the people who may not want/need us, and we often take for granted those who do.

I took my last suggestion literally this weekend and fled to Portland to visit one of my best and oldest friends. She wrote this, and it made my blood run a little warmer and my heart pump a little harder: "Ever had a friend whose basically like a tarot card deck, in the flesh? you get it? you get it. That's Juliet. She came to visit me this last weekend, so we got to catch up in person, and metaphorically soak in the companionable vibe between the two of us...Juliet sees through me very well, yet still has a lot of patience for me."

Added to phone list: I am patient with the people I love. 

Photos from a lovely wishing tree we visited.