Relational Magic – How to Stop Being Rejected

I am a healer. This is something I know to be true, but there is still so much to learn. Healing and Freedom have been the two siren calls of my life, yet I look back and see so much pain and control. I guess this is simply how it goes. The very things we are meant to operate in are the things we struggle most to figure out. I understand it so much better now than I once did, although for so many years it was the deepest frustration of all mind-bending frustrations. Recently I posted an article about what it is to Love and Be Loved – and in it I said:

Learning what Love really looked like, brought me to understand that I had been asking people for things they could not give me. I had only required to be needed and desired, but if there’s more to it than that, then inevitably the people I had surrounded myself with that fulfilled those parts but nothing more, were not going to be the ones to love me how I needed to be loved. And if that’s the case, then there truly will be a season of Alone, while the tides turn and I let go of those that are not loving me, and wait for the ones that will. 

To Love and Be Loved

I came to understand in the not-so-distant past, that in order to stop being pushed away and rejected I had to stop – JUST STOP – asking people for what they did not have to give. But in order to come to this place I first had to look at the unhealthy cycles in my relationships and understand what I was doing to perpetuate the cycles. Because, friends, it’s never just one sided – we always have a part to play in the unhealthy cycles in our lives. Man, was this hard for my heart to grasp. 

It would have been so easy to look at the string of disappointments and heartbreaking rejections and say I’ve just had a run of bad luck, or that people are just shitty and life is full of disappointment, so we just have to deal. But when the understanding came to me that I had to stop accepting things as love that were not love, I knew I had played a major part in how sideways relationships kept going for me. 

Let’s talk about that a minute… The whole — I have to stop accepting things as love that are not love — thing. This was a big one for me. I had believed that being Loved was made up of being needed and desired – two things I had in abundance in my life, yet I did not feel loved. This was merely a shadow of what Love really was. So I had to reevaluate what being Loved meant to me. What would that even look like? (you can read about that here). The closer I got to understanding that I had not understood what Love really was, the more I realized I had accepted these shadows from people, called it Love, and blamed myself for somehow being the problem that kept me in a miserable way. But that might just be me. I would rather accept the blame when things so south – that way I can fix it, I can make adjustments and presto – problem solved, everyone’s happy and I magically have what I need. The rub is, that this is actually a very controlling behavior, and the reality is, it’s never just one person in the scenario that creates this cycle. Taking on fault that isn’t yours – well, it never actually fixes anything – you just burn time and energy working and working through an issue you can never solve. And the cycle of pain and disappointment repeats, ad nauseam regardless of how hard you work to control it.

The issue with not accepting things as love that are not love, is that to have truly loving people in your life, you have to stop chasing down what is not love, and start making different choices. Inevitably some of the people you have worked so hard to have a fulfilling connection with have to take a back seat, or go altogether. Letting go of things you have worked so hard to fix? Brutal. Heartbreaking. Talk about feeling let down, like a failure, and afraid that without settling for those disappointing connections, you’ll never have any at all. But that’s where the importance of not fearing “Alone” comes in. 

  • So how do you know you are asking for something someone simply cannot give?
  • How do you know for certain that you aren’t asking too much to begin with? 

Unraveling these questions begins with identifying what it is you need and want and what your limits are. In other words, creating a boundary for yourself. Boundaries are made of up these three aspects, and when you put it all together and say it out loud to those you desire connection with, it becomes an invitation and a roadmap for others to follow. Because we all want different things, and we each have a different capacity we are willing or able to invest in other people, each one of us has to answer this for ourselves. 

Only I can say what kind of connections I want in my life. For me? I want genuine, emotionally reciprocal connections in which I can relax and be my authentic self. For this to happen I need the other person to show up with a level of vulnerability, openness, and interests similar to what I bring to the table. Where my limit is crossed, is being the one that has to carry the majority of the relationship’s emotional weight, and lack of reciprocation. I have done this 1,000 too many times, and it always resulted in me being emotionally exhausted and feeling uncared for, or worse, feeling like I was somehow so defective that I didn’t deserve to even be loved. (Insert old messaging here)

We each have to evaluate what it is that is most important to us; what we want in our connections and what we need for that to happen. Then we have to identify what the limits, or deal breakers are, in how long and how much energy we are willing to put into making it work. I have had a seemingly endless reservoir of patience when it came to giving people space and time to meet me. Historically, I simply shot in the dark continuing to reach out regardless of their response to me, thinking eventually they would surely get that I was a really nice person with so much to give. This could go on for years before I’d come to the conclusion that something must be wrong with me — and I would circle back in endless attempts to improve myself to make myself lovable enough, worthy enough, or competent enough for them to finally realized they needed me around. This cycle depleted my inner resources and took a major hit on my self esteem. After I had finally had enough of feeling my hand slapped when I reached out, I would finally let go of that relationship and begin the slow process of healing my heart from how badly this hurt. But even in letting go, I still searched inwardly for what I had done wrong — this time. Omg, the relentless rumination this caused.

I believed lies that I was broken, asking too much, and that if I could only heal enough, then I would at last be lovable enough to have what I needed and wanted in my life, finding my place at the table at long last. See the (tiny) problem here?

There are so many potential reasons someone doesn’t meet you — from a lack of capacity due to illness, a demanding job, personal struggle, unhealed trauma, the phase of life they are in that diminishes their capacity for how many people they can invest their energy in, to someone simply not being into the relationship. Knowing why isn’t really the important thing, although it can lesson the sting if it’s out of their hands and not just lack of interest. The brutal truth is that the people I had continued to reach out to were not going to meet me. (Whatever the reason) And when I continued to ask for what they could/would not give, it generated resentment, frustration, and hurtful push back.

Moment of brutal vulnerability? I did this because I did not know my worth, and I looked to connections to tell me what that looked like. I mean, it’s pretty classic, even if totally humiliating to admit. When we have not been equipped with a deep inner-knowing of who we are and what we are worth, there’s nothing that will stop us from trying to lay hold of it. And usually this involves repeating old patterns that do nothing but confirm that yes, we are indeed worthless. It breaks my heart for the sad, lonely, rejected me in the past who just couldn’t wrap her head around this truth.

Through a series of hard lessons (and trauma therapy) I eventually learned that I was intrinsically valuable and that I HAD to stop asking total randos to confirm this to me.

So how do I know if I am asking for something someone can’t/won’t give? Simple. They don’t meet me. I’ve had to stop myself from going down the rabbit hole of “can’t” or “won’t” because that truly isn’t the question to answer. Once I have expressed my boundary, certain that I have been clear and they do not meet me, I know it’s time to let go. It’s like relational magic. Honest to God.

How do I know if I’m asking too much? Well, sometimes we are, but often we are talking about basic human needs — to love and be loved, connection, friendship, intimacy — and these things are always within bounds and correct to ask for. If you are feeling disconnected and alone in your primary or parental relationship, this is not ok, and it is appropriate and correct for you to make your needs known. If your best friend has been blowing you off, distracted, or been hurtful, it’s correct to say that you need/want/and what your limits are with them.

More often than not, I think we just don’t express our boundaries. We just don’t say when something hurts or we need something different or more, because the possibility of being vulnerable enough to say it and still not get it is deeply painful. That rejection stings hard. But others can’t possibly know where to meet you or how to find their way to you if you don’t tell them. That is a choice we have to take responsibility for as well. Not giving a desired connection a boundary, is choosing to let that connection go. Sometimes letting go is the choice to make – when the connection is simply not worth it to us. But if it is something we want or need in our lives, then the only way forward is through vulnerability and setting boundaries. But when we do, and they do not meet us? That is when we release the things that no longer serve us. We set those relationships loose to have free hands and hearts to receive what it is we do want and need.

So until next time my friends, be brave and feel the feels. This is me sending you all grace to stop asking for what others can’t/won’t give so genuine love and connection can be found. Trust me. It’s worth it.

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