Rejection is one of the hardest parts of life. It’s never easy and almost always heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter what form it is in; it’s not something anyone enjoys. While this is something we all deal with, I think rejection hits a bit deeper in me. It’s more than just a punch to gut for me.
I’ve come to the realization that I have a (un)healthy fear if abandonment. Logically, it makes complete sense. I understand why I have this fear. There is something to be said when the amount of soda in your house as a child determines whether or not you’ll be berated. While not physically abandoned as a child, I was emotionally abandoned and neglected from a small age. When I’m rejected in some form now, it immediately brings me back to words my father used to say and the feelings they invoked. It’s like a flash back but in real time. It affirms everything I’ve tried to fight against.
It’s why when Almost rejected me before I even got the point wondering what the relationship was, I shut down. I couldn’t handle hearing my father’s words that I wasn’t worth love or that there was something defective with me, let alone Almost‘s panic. His tears and his issues completely overwhelmed me. I could no longer enjoy the situation or what was or was not developing. He put a stop to it so quickly. I began to feel alone in his presence, unwanted and worth very little. It was more like I was a body than a person he enjoyed spending time with. Add in the explosions, him reading into things I would say, and general disrespectful behavior, and it was just the reinforcement of what I had been told all my life.
I’ve come to realize now that a lot of what happened between him and I was a lot of manipulation, him having an outburst and then trying to somehow blame it on something I said that he read into, him projecting his own issues/feelings onto me, or even him telling me he wanted to be friends then saying how he really liked me still and calling me dramatic when I wanted to put boundaries in place. It was a huge mental mind fuck/manipulation. Whether it was purposeful or something he did subconsciously, I don’t know. BUT it played right into my fear of abandonment since things went from being wonderful to an emotional upheaval so quickly.
You see, almost my entire childhood, I was completely ignored by my father or screamed at, threatened and berated. These were the only two options. The only times he seemed to know I existed were 1. if my mom and brothers were too busy to pick me up somewhere and my mom forced him to, 2. an achievement of mine or gift from him would display how great of a parent he was to others, or 3. if anything in the home pissed him off. I was not lying when I said not having enough soda would start a screaming session. Many times the gifts his gave would be immediately followed by a threat of physical violence or a stream of put downs.
Being emotionally neglected has a lot of side effects, and one is the fear that it will happen again (at least for me). When the possibility of being “abandoned” in that way appears, I panic. My mind races in an effort to understand what is going on. I immediately start looking for what I have done to cause this situation. What do I need to do to keep the status quo? How should I behave going forward in order to keep this from happening? It’s almost like looking for a sense of control as my fear and anxiety is thrown into overdrive, something I have power over. I look for ways to blame myself in order to find things to fix , to keep a sense of safety while my emotions are thrown into full gear. I think that’s the best way to describe it.
I was told routinely that if I kept up on certain actions that I wouldn’t be liked; I wouldn’t have friends; I wouldn’t be loved. The fear that I’m doing something that makes me unlovable, unwanted or unlikeable is deeply rooted within me. I grew up needing to make all the right moves in order to deserve attention and caring. I stopped that behavior by college, but when someone’s affection is taken away or suddenly limited, I still internalize it as a reaction to something I have done, not as a limitation of the other person. Since I no longer plan out how I should behave, I’m more of myself with others. I no longer have the fear of being “not good enough” before meeting others. It now comes into play when something happens, an argument or fight, something of that line. Since I did not plan out my behavior, I see it as my actual self being rejected or seen as unacceptable; something my father would tell me constantly.
I know logically that is not the case; it’s not me that is unacceptable. I get that. Yet, believing it is another thing; feeling it is also another. It’s one of the biggest struggles I’ve worked on and continue to work on. I hope one day that it’s something I can understand, that I’m not provoking but something internal with the other person. It’s not a reflection of my short comings. Here’s to this scary walk of life.