Scared of rejection

Have you ever heard the phrase, “hurt people, hurt people”?

I think that it probably holds true for other types of emotional trauma as well.

  • Ignored people ignore people
  • Bullied people bully people
  • Molested people molest people
  • Rejected people reject people

Allie was rejected for her entire life. Her parents required the utmost from her scholastically. She earned strait A’s throughout high school, college and graduate school. She graduated college one year early, finishing in three rather than four years. She ran cross country and helped pay for her higher education through an athletic scholarship. Yet, it wasn’t enough for her mom and dad.

Mom would still embarrass her about her appearance, saying that she needed a haircut or brush. Her mom still does it today. Her dad would completely detach emotionally. He wouldn’t let her have emotions that he deemed negative. If she had a negative emotion, he would send her away to her room. When she returned, everyone would pretend that didn’t just happen.

Worse yet, her emotions would be spiritualized. Basically, if she was down, her parents would read the Bible into her to let her know why she was wrong for being down. Wrong for being sad. One story she has told me was about a friend of hers who was in a horrible car crash. Allie and her dad went to the hospital to pray over her and “heal” her. Her dad had her believing that after a severe head injury and the removal of life support, that her friend was going to get up and be completely healed. Long story short, her friend died. Allie probably saw that as God rejecting her.

Later in life, her dad had a marriage ending affair and then married his affair partner who is about 20 years his junior. She’s only about 11 years older than Allie. It’s not uncommon, but her dad took it several steps further. He not only left his wife of 42 years, but he abandoned all of us. He doesn’t speak to Allie, Allie’s brother, his son-or daughter-in-law or ANY OF HIS GRANDKIDS.   He has five and has only met three of them.  The last time any of us saw him was in 2012.

He still sees his own immediate family. Brothers, sister and mom.  But not his family, kids or grands. That rocked Allie. Complete and total rejection from her own father. Do any of us understand it? Nope.

So Allie has been rejected. And rejection has a special kind of sting and pain for her. So, my theory of Allie’s abandonment of me has evolved. I believe that I got a bit of a revelation this morning when thinking about this. Rejected people reject people. Why? I am not a mental health professional, but I can guess that it is a defense or protective mechanism.

Allie loves to gather up a posse for any event we have. She is so inclusive and internally she hopes that each event will create a lifetime of memories. Sadly, she often feels the sting of rejection when she coordinates and plans these outings. Her sister-in-law is especially guilty of giving Allie the cold shoulder and since she’s married to Allie’s brother, there is an effect on him as well.

So, as I process and contemplate my marriage with Allie, I am reminded just how painful rejection is for her. Allie is an approval addict. She loves attention, adoration, approval and affirmation. She sought those things from Mark, her affair partner when she perceived that she wasn’t getting it from me, her family, or her parents.

On the other hand, that was her perception and sometimes perceptions don’t have much to do with reality. Allie created a fantasy world in her brain where she was “alone in our marriage” and “felt dead inside.”  It’s my opinion – and I know her better than anyone in the world – that she was rejected by her dad with his new family and that filled her rejection cup completely. Then, all she could get from me was rejection. Even though I don’t actively or consciously reject her, she could only perceive rejection.