Why We Can’t Be Rejected

“When we lose someone and we find ourselves, we win.” Anonymous

One of my best, dearest friends I’ll call K has broken all contact. She doesn’t call; she doesn’t write; she doesn’t send flowers or return texts, and seemingly doesn’t miss me at all. My psychologist brain says, “don’t take it personally.” My human heart says, “she has rejected me and it hurts.” But here’s the truth. You and I can be dismissed, avoided, shunned, hell even banished but we cannot be rejected.

You readers will say, “Well you’re just wrong. My boyfriend rejected me last week.” “My father has always rejected me.” “My best friend hasn’t spoken to me in over a year. Don’t tell me she hasn’t rejected me.”

No one can reject us. Here’s why – because it’s never about us. We are the creators of, not only our outer worlds but our interior ones as well and what we are drawn to or deny is already in us lying loose, latent or floating down that ole’ river D-nial.
I was well into my 50s, having “felt” and “thought” I’d been rejected numerous times before it became clear to me, thanks in large part due to my long-time therapist and mentor, Dr. James Maynard.

You see, I lived my relationship life foolishly thinking that if I was attracted to a girlfriend or other loved ones it was because something was in them that was not in me – that perhaps it was their lovely disposition that pulled me into their orbit. They were “attractive” because of their looks, spirituality, intelligence, groundedness, sense of humor, etc. all things that my low self-esteem told me I lacked.

What James and decades of experiences showed me was that real attraction for others, and they to me, emanates from within and goes out to them. Attraction thus is self-generated, rather than coming from the other person and when I’m no longer attracted to someone or I’ve integrated their qualities I stop generating the interest in them but I do not reject them nor they me.

This truth becomes obvious I hope in Rumi’s poem:

The minute I heard my first love story
I went looking for you, not knowing
How blind that was. Lovers don’t
Finally meet somewhere, they’ve been
in other all along.     Translated by Coleman Barks

Those we love who we think are rejecting us are rejecting those things in themselves they are no longer able to pull out of their own inner or outer shadowy part of themselves that they projected onto us.

A woman I loved a long time ago and am still good friends with I’ll call B was extremely intelligent and cleaned houses for a living when I met her while giving a lecture at a local university. She was also a nurturer, mother and possessed boundless sexual energy. I was a counselor, writer, still too much in my head and anything but a nurturing, parenting person, with little to no domestic inclinations at the time. Of course we got together. During those four years later – I became a pretty good step-father with a greater inclination to nurture and after we went to many therapy sessions we broke up. Once again at first I thought she had rejected me. To make a long story short she went back to school and got a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is one of the best working therapists.

A couple of years later I got married to Susan, bought a home and we set out to have children that hopefully I would spend a lot more time with than I would in hotels and conference centers.

broken heartGoing back to K – she left, either because she saw things in me that she was not ready to embrace or already had successfully embraced or perhaps never needed and therefore I guess I rejected the “sunny” disposition she had in abundance while I was my grieving my despairing divorce. She rejected my “old age” and perhaps I rejected the youth she possessed but was still somewhere in me even though I was having a terrible time finding it. She rejected my seriousness, and damit, I rejected the spontaneity I saw in her that I have always longed to have more of and on and on. Our paths diverged because I needed to access all that she manifested, and she either needed to access some of what she saw in me, but to be clear, neither of us did anything wrong nor did we “reject” the other.

When I said in my earlier book, Writing From the Body, that people tend to be drawn to artists because they dream of being creative but they’ve been told that they are not, or they are afraid to succeed or fail having way too many credit cards, cars and a house payment they feel they must pay off first. However, “If we spot it, we got it,” as the old AA saying goes. So we tend to “acquire” the artistic creative person instead of “accessing” the artist, writer or the tender, compassionate domestic, nurturing, sexy person we’ve been all along.

So the next time you or I “feel” rejected see Solutions below:

  1. Make a list of the qualities, characteristics, attitudes, traits you have found in other and acknowledge and further develop them in yourself.
  2. Remember the attraction for others starts inside you and proceeds outwards, and as the Indian poet Kabir says, “I say to my inner lover, why such a rush…” because I say he or she has always been inside us waiting for us to stop projecting onto others.

A Collection of Poems from a new book, “Five Friends on Sunday Afternoons”

Book Release Celebration and Reading at Malvern Books – Friday Oct 5 at 7 pm

John Lee will be celebrating the release of, and reading from, a new collection of poems, “Five Friends on Sunday Afternoons,” along with authors, Lyman Grant, Bill Jeffers, David Jewell and John Oakley McElhenney. Please join them at 7 PM CDT at Malvern Books located at 613 W 29th Street in Austin, TX 78705.

Lee will be reading two of his poems, A Thunderstorm in Mentone and Holding On, that were written in his sweet cottage on Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Alabama as part of his way of letting go of a place that has been so dear to his heart for almost three decades.

A THUNDERSTORM IN MENTONE 

A thunderstorm in Mentone.

The wind is different tonight.

The leaves on the trees move easily.

Summer rain cleans the horses

grazing in the pasture

across the road.

I saw lightning for the first time 

in months. It looked like a ragged

tuning fork, and I felt the thunder

roll through my body.

Today, in a house a hundred miles

away I saw my father for the first

time in ten years.

He sat beside me with his bare shoulder

against mine as we looked at a map.

Years ago I would have wanted more to

happen and felt a disappointment,

but this meeting moved easily.

A part of me (the part that always wanted more)

felt cleaned. The lightning comes down in jagged

lines and then separates into its tines. A tuning

fork and a father and son

are like that too.

We talked about gas mileage; then

he showed me the peas he’s grown in his

garden.

This is the most affection I’m going

To get, I thought.

Today this amount of affection was finally enough.

HOLDING ON

There is always one leaf

that hangs on to certain trees

even in mid-January – wind

blowing thirty miles an hour.

It holds on the way a bowl holds on 

to a Buddhist monk, a Bible holds

on to a Christian; the way a cane

holds on to a blind man.

What holds on to me when it’s winter?

A poker perhaps to punch and stir the

fire, a pen that turns empty white

paper into a prayer for some company.

Every morning I sit down by

the fire. I see the poker by my hand,

the pen on the table and, outside, the

leaf still holding on.

 

Further Thoughts on Unbecoming

The young person’s task is to primarily emancipate from his or her original family. I have a chapter in my book, Recovery: Plain and Simple, titled, “Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad.” The teen and early twenties, and now, even men and women in their early thirties, focus on establishing themselves in the world, and perhaps, creating a new family. The middle-aged person’s task is to discover and express their own uniqueness as an individual and to more fully develop, expand their personality, which Carl Jung defined as, “the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being.” In other words, really start the unbecoming process, the cookie-cutter, programmed, indoctrinated human we’ve become. We start dropping the false-selves, and stop straying too far afield from the path, which Nature/God/Higher Power intended us to follow and become the person we were meant to be all along.

In the process of becoming a husband, wife, lawyer, teacher, millionaire, starving artist, and thus be able to meet the demands of careers and families, we end up abandoning pursuits and interests, which at one time in our lives, gave us enthusiasm, zest and meaning. In my book The Half-Lived Life: Overcoming Passivity and Rediscovering Our Authentic Self, I encourage my readers, clients and workshop participants to recall what their passions, talents and loves – before the bills and the babies, the mortgages and manias came – and turn and rediscover those all-but- forgotten and neglected sides of themselves. When they do, so many turn once again to music, painting, writing, poetry, drama and other pursuits that enthralled them. Once this happens, our center of gravity of our personality shifts into action, and this center might be called our “Authentic Self,” which is more capable of joy than our false selves are capable of attaining happiness.

By stripping away these personas during the Unbecoming process we come home to ourselves; we more deeply accept ourselves, and thus, begin to accept life on life’s terms. Some might even go so far to say they “made their peace with their God,” or “it’s the way life is.” We become a more receptive human being instead of a “human doing” and increase our ability to be less clingy to whatever comes and goes, surrendering what is no longer ours to hold on to and receiving that which is ready to come. We stop trying to force everything to bend to our will and stop thinking we know how everything and everyone should go and who should come back and when. All of this creates a greater ability to exist in the “now.” Once we stop turning the dials and pulling all of life’s levers, we meet the great giver of joy – our deepest Self.