Rejection terrifies me. One of the reasons I’m afraid of it is that for a long time, I have struggled with the notion that deep down, there is something dark at my very core. If someone rejects me, that means they see it and they KNOW. If they KNOW, soon everyone else will.
And I will be alone.
(I mean, that’s what I deserved anyway. Right?)
See, this isn’t about rejection itself. Someone else walking away from me isn’t the problem; it only magnifies the real issue.
This is about shame.
Because of my belief systems, I fall into a deep state of shame whenever humans leave. But it was always there, lurking. Rejection was just the catalyst.
Shame makes my head fuzzy. My stomach turns into knots and rocks, and it feels like cotton balls in my mouth, an uneasy heat in my head. My body becomes deadweight (probably because it instinctively wants to sink into the floor).
When I’m in shame, I hobbit-hole myself into isolation. It’s a form of self-protection, meant to prevent more pain. But ultimately, it pushes more humans away.
It’s a nasty cycle.
Today’s reframe: Shame and rejection and I have a long history. And we probably have a future. But it doesn’t have to look like it did before, with the freezing and hiding and pushing away. It’s not going to look like that because shame thrives in silence and secrecy. In contrast, it shrinks when I speak it out loud, when I choose to be vulnerable.
Brene Brown says empathy is the antidote to shame. This is because empathy and vulnerability create a connection where shame can’t survive. It’s hard to hate close-up. It’s hard to hide in self-loathing and be vulnerable at the same time. And it’s hard to hold onto both “I am bad” AND “I feel loved/heard/seen.”
The funny thing is, as I’m talking about relying on God, I need to remember that God is a master at empathetic badassery. He doesn’t do shame. And that’s really all I need to know.
So in a way, I’m actually glad for my own battles with rejection-related shame because now I know where it hides, what it looks like, and how it grows in my silence. I know it’s a lie.
And I know that the next time I feel rejected, if I reach OUTWARDS rather than hiding INWARDS, then I will be where shame comes to die.