Retroactive Rejection

I couldn’t stop scrolling.

Pictures kept sliding by, my thumb pressing up against that same smile, that same gaze, over and over again. My eyes drank it in while my heart grew numb. I saw him going on trips I never heard about, holding friends I never met, marrying a girl I never knew. Slowly, my mind grasped the truth.

Rejected. Totally, unequivocally, without a moment’s notice.

For three years. And I hadn’t even known.

This wasn’t some boyfriend who dumped me. This wasn’t just a one-night-stand or an unrequited love gone sour. This was a friend. An incredibly close, spiritual, intellectual friend. We wiled away sunlit afternoons discussing theology, philosophy, Star Wars and Dune. We raced bikes. We sparred with lightsabers. We spent countless hours in chat rooms and MMORPGs.

And just like that… gone. Without a word (or hardly a trace!); without a single explanation.

Since when did friends dump each other?

Rejection is never easy to swallow. Rarely does one know the motive. Whether it be a friendship, a romantic lover or a professional engagement, being rejected just doesn’t feel good.

First of all, it threatens your sense of self-worth. A huge blow to one’s ego. We all like to think of ourselves as being pretty decent, rational, pleasant people. Friendship and partnership, in a way, validates our sense of self-worth. It proves that we mean something. Well, until someone pulls the rug out from under you. Doubt creeps in: Why would I be rejected, if it not because I wasn’t worth it? If I was bad? If I was, at the very core, so horrid and rotten that my friend/partner couldn’t even stand the THOUGHT of me?

Second of all, it destroys a future. No more tales over coffee. No more voluminous discussions concerning the merits of the Sith Code, existentialism or other religious faiths. The empty chair I have been saving, the future possibilities I had been entertaining, the conversation topics I’ve been filing – swept away.

And finally, you doubt the entire relationship. All of those hours and discussions – and for what? You sit back and wonder in a daze: What did it all even MEAN? 

This can lead to a depressing spiral, as I and millions of other emotional human beings have discovered before me. Rejection hurts. The wounds and scars it leaves often never heal – especially if we don’t let them.

In the interest of moving on – and in helping others to do so – I propose three steps for healing. Life is much too short to spend it bearing ill will and breeding such poison in your heart. After all, the is what the healing process is all about: purging emotional poison.

1. Don’t take it personally. Easier said than done. You have to recognize that, just as you are an independent and rational being, so is the one who you feel wronged you. They had every right to make their decision; it isn’t your place to judge their interpretation of life. They have their reasons, and to them it was a rational and logical step. Whether they are shielding their own weaknesses, purging their phone contacts or protecting themselves, that is their call. They were responsible for their half of the relationship, just as you were only responsible for yours.

2. Talk with someone. Now. The worst thing you can possibly do is sit and stew. Find someone you trust. Find your friend. Find your cat. Find your journal. Brooding will create an emotional poison so thick that it will take years to wash away. You are not alone. Seeking out others’ advice may even help you accomplish No. 1 – to not take it personally. Friends can offer advice, scenarios, and possible reasons as to why it happened. While no one ever knows  why another takes a certain course of action, it will keep you from attacking your own ego.

3. Forgive. Forgive, forgive, forgive. I will say again: forgive them. It isn’t about you. It’s about them. It was their decision, their hangups, their reasoning. And making your own life miserable because of someone else’s actions is like committing seppuku because it’s raining. You can’t change what happened. You can’t undo what your friend or lover decided or change their mind. It is done. And you must forgive them. It not only dishonors your own spirit, but it dishonors the memory of their spirit as well.

The road to healing is hard. But you have the choice. You can choose to undertake the difficult task of healing and forgiveness… or you can place yourself into hell. You cannot change what happens to you. You can change how it affects you. You can decide to not live in hell.

As always – thanks for listening. Two wonderful books were instrumental in bringing this post and my own healing to fruition;  may they bring you the same peace and understanding as they have for me.

The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

The Mastery of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz

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