Today I’ve given myself the freedom to be rejected.
To reject also –
not as in “get the hell out of here you worthless sucker”,
but simply as in: this does not seem to engage me, touch my strings, or feel fruitful. Perhaps it’s jarring. Let me withdraw my energy in directions that are nourishing.
I think this also gives me the freedom to accept.
When a no is a no, a yes is a yes.
This seems so much simpler.
I’ve lived in the mindbefuddling land of “how the heck to make this work? maybe if I push or pull, or twist, or stretch, or squeeze … stand on my head, or talk with toothpicks between my teeth?” for quite some time.
I was afraid that if I reject, I’ll get rejected.
And that is unimaginable, unsurvivable.
Shame, anguish. Probably self-hate, the feeling that I deserved just this. Feeling like my face is all covered in tarnishing paint.
That’s why I’ve lived in interpersonal “what the heck is even going on here? Everything is odd, weird, confusing, and hurts, but it’s supposed to be that way sometimes right?” land for very long, too.
Ouch, it hurts in my stomach to even write about it.
It’s only out of desperation, paired with having heard certain advice again and again from people who seemed trustworthy and balanced, that I decided to give rejection a chance.
To not feel guilty for rejecting by disengaging.
By simply staying in my own space, in my own comfort zone.
(Yes, “comfort zone” is considered something like the devil in personal development. Something to be attacked, stretched, transcended. But hey – some people don’t have one. They have to build one, first of all. Build a cocoon that allows us to create hours, then days, then at some awesome point perhaps weeks without major physiological stress damage from just existing in the world. Some people who are autistic, have a disability, chronic illness, mental health burdens, have experienced trauma, and many, many more. Highly sensitive people, empaths sometimes. One good place to read about this is Rhi’s blog, especially this post on constructing cocoons and if you have time, also this one called “If the world was built for me”)
I guess to those that are less soft-spoken, that wouldn’t even count as rejection.
Just saying, no, this is not for me, and I won’t pretend that it is, and twist my self into another shape to convince myself that it is.
It’s just having boundaries.
It’s just having healthy self-protection.
Yes, it’s good to be flexible. But some of us have been so flexible that our rubber bands snapped long ago, and now we wonder why we seem so brittle.
When I started experimenting with this, I had the fear that I’d be even more lonely. After all, if I reject – or risk rejecting by not putting in the extra effort to mould myself to their taste (yup, that was the logic) – even the few people who seem drawn to me, who will I end up with? Probably no one.
There was certainly an agonising period of loneliness in my life after I tried that.
But hey … after this agony, things somehow seem to be feeling better – easier.
There are still ups and downs.
But there seems to be less entanglement and panic, and more clarity.
I’m suddenly able to make decisions, sometimes.
Without agonising, long dilemmas that only go in circles.
Allowing myself to say no to people when I feel no (learning what no feels like in the body the first place) has liberated me to accept with far more ease when they do say no. When someone doesn’t wish to engage with me, or engage with me to the level that I’d like (as someone who is an outsider in many major ways, that really isn’t the oddball occurrence … more the daily bread. Until recently I didn’t even realise that expecting rejection as the norm is unusual – only noticed it when for a time I didn’t get rejected and realised, heck, is that perhaps normality?).
I think I’m able to give people slightly more freedom. Choice.
They aren’t throwing me into an abyss of self-hate anymore by rejecting me subtly.
Sure, it’s still not pleasant. And it’s definitely not pleasant to encounter a daily wall of it. But it was far worse when I was judging myself for making decisions (intuitive, body-based, freely felt and trusted yes/no decisions on where to engage my energy) and, consequently, judging everyone for theirs, too.
In my case, no didn’t lead to permanent catastrophe.
Well, to temporary ones, yes.
But at one point (many points, to be honest) I was in a place where I was ready to let the roof crash in over me – accept whatever the consequences of a choice taken freely may be – because I couldn’t stand what was.
Simple, too. A natural progression, perhaps.
The truth is, there wasn’t even space in my life for a yes before that.
Space is scary, it’s empty, we don’t trust it.
It’s a zen cliche, but you do need a canvas to paint. You need white paper for black ink to soak in. And you do need black and white for definition, direction, for the discernible and tangible to take shape.
Bonus track: If you tend to think in sound (like me), maybe my short piano improvisation about finding my voice is opportune here. (Here’s the full blog post.)