Hey you ever had an overblown reaction to something silly and wondered, “Whoa, where did that come from?” Yeah, me too.
I’ve noticed that these incidents, for me, are often connected to past experiences of rejection or loss. Acting out of old wounds is a painful place to be, often bringing up feelings of sadness, confusion and even a loss of control.
We like to think we’re mindful, deliberate creatures but what happens when the past has us so tightly in its grip that we can’t discern true from false or past from present? Do we resist all the more or do we open up to this painful but poignant message?
I say ‘message’ because I know that all my experiences- from the trivial to the triumphant- have something to teach me, if only I’m willing to listen.
Perhaps if I share one of my own experiences dealing with the past and it’s often overt presence in my present, you will better understand:
I had an experience recently in which I’d applied for a small side job (being a writer and burgeoning entrepreneur doesn’t always pay well) and, well, I didn’t get it. And it wasn’t because I lacked qualifications or ability or anything of the sort (it was a menial labor task after all). It was simply that the employer had already chosen someone else, someone who’d applied sooner than I had.
But upon being told I didn’t get it, I became extremely emotional, curled up on my bed and cried. I felt stupid, small and inadequate. And I stayed this way for a good half hour.
How is that I’d let this total stranger stir up such strong feelings in me over such a seemingly simple matter? The truth is– I hadn’t. Not entirely, anyway. I wasn’t so much triggered by my failed effort to get the job as I was by the accompanying feeling of rejection it created.
I should mention that this “rejection” was especially painful because I have a lot of my self-worth wrapped up in the idea of being an equal provider and partner in general, and failing to secure this job threatened that. Hence the fear of loss.
In staying with the pain though, I was brought back to a couple middle-school situations that I had all but forgotten about- not making the volleyball team and having my crush refuse to dance with me at Homecoming–heartbreaking for a 7th grader (or anyone for that matter)!
Though seemingly unrelated, the event had triggered a deep, primordial fear- that of being cast aside, rejected, alone.
I was crying the tears of my eleven year-old self eighteen years later. And my body, in its infinite wisdom, was desperately trying to tell me something:
You are good enough.
You are accepted.
Isn’t this what we all want after all? Some days, self-love and acceptance still elude me and I’d be LYING if I said the love and acceptance of others doesn’t matter to me. But these days, it’s less about garnering the approval of others and more about satisfying the girl within.
I can still hear her when I listen closely, lovingly urging me to be brave…to be vulnerable…to be me.
I think I’ll listen.