For a large portion of my life, I have considered rejection to be an absolute horror. The therapists I’ve seen over the years have all at some time during our time together asked me why I have in the past given those who reject me tears and days worth of self-flagellation, even if the person was truly only a blip on life’s radar.
Right around the end of 2012, I finally realized that rejection truly had absolutely nothing to do with me. There was nothing “wrong” with me. I simply didn’t fit the vision of the “perfect lover” that they have in their minds. And it was rarely about my size. My personality is very intense. I have personality traits that are considered “masculine.” And, especially in the last few years since leaving my ex, I am remembering the me I used to be, the me I would have grown up to be if I had never met my ex.
That girl (yes, even though I married at 25, I was still in many ways a “girl”) was just beginning to realize that she did not have to be “good enough” for anyone else, only herself. She had only just realized that she was just fine in and of herself, and had no reason to enslave herself to anyone, let alone a man.
But, along came my ex. And I can’t really say it was his fault that I stopped developing myself in that direction. The truth is that I had a false view of the purpose of a wife in a relationship. It was all wrapped up in my childhood faith, even though by then I had become a Wiccan. Coming as I did from an extremely conservative Lutheran denomination, I had not had the chance to truly evaluate and get rid of any of the “role of the wife” that was not healthy for me. I see-sawed between the submissiveness of the “Christian wife” and the leader that my personality set me up to be. With that, it is no big surprise that I fell right in line behind the narcissism of my ex. Plus, with many of the stormy interactions between my father and I, my ex could exhibit some trait that he shared with my father and I would crumble.
But this post isn’t about my ex, or my father. It’s about rejection, and my changing attitude toward it.
In reality, since starting to understand that rejection was about their issues and not mine, I have not really been forced to assess my reaction. The rejection has been more on my side, or was a mutual understanding that we just didn’t fit as a couple.
But, tonight, I had a very clear rejection. I had been speaking to someone via Plenty of Fish. I had thought we were getting along just fine. But, today, I found he had blocked me (something I only do if the person is being abusive or harassing). It made me start to think about the differences between my reactions now and how I used to react to rejection.
Oh, I’m disappointed. I’m annoyed that he couldn’t simply say that he was no longer interested. But I’m not destroyed. I’m not sitting here thinking about all of my self-perceived flaws, like I would have done even 5 years ago. I’m not beating myself up for some imagined slight or potential offensiveness.
The reality is, I don’t know this guy from Adam. He is just one person in an almost anonymous sea of faces. I see no reason why someone I barely know should have the power over me that I would have given when I was younger.
I never had a really clear answer for those therapists about “why” I gave away that kind of power, even to complete strangers. I can only think it was habit, or a leftover from the emotional angst of my adolescence (which was stifled until after I was 21).
But, I’m not doing that anymore. And I’m fairly proud of myself for doing so.