Rejection is hard,
Rejection is tough,
Rejection has a way of making you feel like
You’re just not enough
If someone doesn’t want you
Don’t feel second rate
Because inside of us all
Lies something great.
– Joshua Haines, March 2014
Do you March? Yes, it’s the name of a month of the year, when winds blow and one day it’s 32 degrees, and the next it is 72 degrees. What? Are you cuckoo, Nancy? NO! Actually yesterday it was a cold and dampish 32 degrees, and today it’s a sunny 72 degrees–and it’s March 8th! But you see, we live in the mountains and anything goes as far as weather is concerned.
“March” also means: a hike, a trek, a protest, a campaign, a progression (the noun version), and the verb version is to parade, to troop, to trudge, to rush, to stomp, to walk, and even to swagger.
Have you ever been involved with a protest or a campaign? Was the reason for the campaign a noble one? I am in one, well sort of, now. My campaign, my mission is to educate people about REJECTION, and just how it affects those who experience it. I want people to know that it is the cause of much disruption in a life and much of the anger, bitterness, and resentment we see in ourselves or others. One of the greatest needs of every human being is to feel that they are loved, accepted and that they belong to someone and somewhere.
At birth, newborns come out into a cold and unfriendly world, until they are wrapped in warmth and snuggled in the arms of a mother or a father. It is in those first four hours of life that a child can hear the familiar beat of mother’s heart, see the adoration in her eyes, smell the familiar smell of her body, suckle at her breast, and feel enveloped in her love. The same is true of the father if the mother is unavailable due to a health emergency. The feeling of belonging coming from these positive experiences sets up the child to feel secure and safe in the presence of his or her parent and snuggled in their arms.
But . . . how many babies miss out on this experience? How many are really unwanted because their arrival is inconvenient or there is no money to feed yet another mouth? How many grow up to experience being ignored, taken away from birth parents to adoption, foster care, or are neglected in their home of origin? How many come into the world already addicted because their mother was or is? How many know what it’s like to lie in a crib screaming for food or diaper change or longing for the warmth of mother’s arms? These neglected ones grow up to be lonely and alone, and feel like they belong to no one.
According to Dr. Ronald Rohner, Professor Emeritus from the University of Connecticut and researcher on the subject of rejection for over fifty years, each child determines whether or not they are rejected by these criteria:
– Was there HOSTILITY or AGGRESSION in the home?
– Was there WARMTH and AFFECTION present?
– Was there INDIFFERENCE or NEGLECT in your experience?
– Was there a feeling of not belonging that you cannot actually identify in words, but there is nonetheless the feeling there?
This is one way to examine yourself, asking if you are one who suffers the ill effects of early rejection. Were you bullied at school, were you the last chosen on the baseball team, or were you called derogatory names by schoolmates? I remember it well! I was a chubby child and my best friend was Jewish. When we got on the school bus in the mornings, one or two of the boys would call out, “Here comes Fatso and the Dirty Jew.” We hated it, but there was little we could do.
There are four basic questions that individuals eventually ask themselves at some point in their lives. These are cited in the book, Shadows of Belonging.
1. Am I worthy of being loved?
2. Am I competent to get the love I need?
3. Are others reliable and trustworthy?
4. Are others accessible and willing to respond to me when I need them to do so?
What is really being asked here of yourself and another is: Are we really in a relationship and do we belong to each other? Those who were neglected and rejected in childhood have great difficulty in answering these questions affirmatively. Being able to do so requires a journey back to one’s beginnings and an analysis of what was, in order to improve what is.