We all face rejection. It’s part of being human. It’s not enjoyable. A flood of emotions come up when we hear, “You’re wrong”! “Or, “I don’t like you.” We cringe and want to deflect that opinion. We’re right. They’re wrong. Damn it.
Then comes the usual push and pull dance trying to prove our point. Words get more hostile. Emotions feel raw as if our heart has been attacked with a sharp knife. Blood pressure rises. Some may get their ugly face dissolving into tears of frustration. We can’t get through to them. Why can’t we get through to them?
After being on “60Minutes” announcing I never wanted to have or raise children, I was let go from my teaching Job. Mike Wallace ended that show with, “Pardon our perversion for airing this on Mother’s day. Good night everyone”. I was rejected as a perverse woman. How could I be an effective teacher when, in the minds of ignorant people, I never wanted to have children? I must be a child hater. It never dawned on them to think how inaccurate that assumption could be. Just because people don’t want to have or raise kids doesn’t mean they hate children. Of course, had that been the truth, it would have been proven before then. Children would come home wailing or complaining that their teacher is awful. Instead, the principals and Board of Education had glowing letters of praise for my creative teaching skills and obvious love of helping their children.
That pain of that rejection had a far lasting legacy. I was black listed from teaching for ten years until I remarried, changed my name and got back into teaching. I went on to be nominated by my peers to Walt Disney’s National Teacher of the Year. I lost. However, I felt honored for that nomination. It helped ease that pain of rejection but never stopped the loss I’ve suffered which, to this day, is reflected in my pension.
Rejection hurts, if we allow it. It seems more painful when it comes from family. We’ve heard blood is thicker than water. We’ve been lead to believe our family will be there for us. However, it’s a myth. Myths are created and perpetuated by assumptions. Reality changes that time after time. Many of my followers on Facebook have shared their heartfelt pain when their family rejected them for their personal choice to remain childfree. One woman told me her father told her he stopped her abortion! Now he felt it was a mistake as she would never give him grandchildren. Those words were catastrophic to hear. She asked me how can she stop the pain.
Here’s what I’ve learned. You can’t change people’s minds, misperceptions or expectations. They’re claimed by those who fiercely hold on to them. The only importance is how our own lives are affected. Is it painful to see we’re rejected for any personal thought, believe or lifestyle ? You bet it is. Can it lead us to feel sadness, hurt, or bewilderment? Sadly, yes. Might we even start re-thinking or asking ourselves if we need to change to fit into the accepted way of thinking? It sure would be easier. But, would we lose who we are? Would that be the biggest loss to ourselves and those whose lives we could touch in a positive way?
Remember what I’ve learned as an aging woman. If we stay focused on the negative emotions, we remain a victim. If we let go, wish others well on their own paths, (sometimes, a bit daunting, I admit) we stand a chance to enjoy this awesome thing called life. It’s so ephemeral! Suddenly, you’re looking at the sands of time trickling down, down, down to what we know is the end. If this is the moment, be in it. Wrap your hearts around your own needs and wants. It’s not selfish. It’s loving yourself. Wish those who differ love and peace in their choices. Don’t argue. Don’t defend. Reach out to those who care. If it’s not that family you were born into, make your own. No! Not by procreation. By choosing others who respect, love and treasure you in their lives.
I treasure you. I think of you as an extended family.I’m here for you if you need me.