Day 342 - Beyond Disillusionment & Rejection
It is coming to me that a lot of relationships end because we can’t find a suitable way to manage the above. That at some point in time we feel rejected in our relationships and this leads to the disillusionment that we are not with the right partner and so we pack up and begin to leave. Maybe this process happens over night or perhaps it takes years. Most people I know leave their relationships long before they actually leave their relationships...
So where do we all go so wrong?
I think we come in loaded for bear. We meet the “perfect” person, fall in love and pin our hopes and dreams to this other person as if now that we have found them, all will be well. It is a subtle aggression but we believe that this person is not going to let us down...in small ways (they are going to help around the house) and in big ways (they are going tell us the truth about what goes on between their ears). But this is all wrong. No one (not even the best partner on the planet) is going to always be 100% responsible for their 50%. They are going to skip taking out the trash because they want to sleep 15 minutes more or they did it last time. Selfishness and self-centeredness is going to creep in because we are human and humans are jerks sometimes. We are also not going to share every private thought or emotion as it comes because 1) if we did we would all lack the energy to do anything else and 2) because we are afraid of being rejected and labeled nuts if we gave complete voice to all the crazy shit going on inside our heads.
So we begin to limit what we share. We begin to take back some of our time that we dedicate to being a good partner...now sometimes this is because we are in fact, just not good partnership material. But most often it is because we are human, fallible and this is just life. And when we let others down, they are going to become disillusioned with us and perhaps feel rejected by our behavior.
I am convinced that any relationship that is going to survive and be a good supporting relationship, is going to have to be able to withstand both, rejection and disillusionment, if we are to keep the relationship going. And have it be a worthwhile relationship...
Rejection. We are all so terrified of it. We give all this power to the other person to put us in our place, tell us what we like or want is wrong or bad or unattractive. But what if we didn’t? What if we just told the other person, honestly and intimately, what we wanted and needed. What if we just left the door open for them to say, “I don’t like or want that.” And we just held that right there? Ok, so we now have something to work through...I have a want or need and you do not want to help me with that want or need, or can't...rejection implies that I have to magically become some person that is now unworthy all because you didn’t want to do what I did or couldn’t or wouldn’t give me what I needed. What if we stopped right there?
What if instead of picking up the mantle that I need to now deploy self protection or defense, I just stayed open. I just allowed you to reject me and have that be ok. No big deal...even if it is a huge deal. I told you who I was or what I needed and that didn’t work for you. I have lived my life thinking that I was somehow supposed to change myself to fit your version of me. I see now that I was a coward. I completely see now that my only job all along has been to show you who I am, walk into the blade of your possible rejection and then accept whatever you bring me. If I rejected, I have a decision to make...can I move forward with you in light of the fact that you don’t like whatever it is that I need or want? Or is what I need or want not such a big deal and I am willing to change it or modify it or alter it in some way?
And this is where disillusionment happens. Right here. In this tender, vulnerable spot. I make a decision to be let down by your lack of understanding and acceptance of who I just told you I was. You decide that whatever it is that I just did or said, doesn’t work for you and now I have become disillusioned with what we have, who you are and where we are going. Perhaps you have too...
But what happens if we just stay with it. I give you permission to reject me, my ideas, my needs and wishes. I refuse to lie to you about them which is brave as fuck because every time I decide to tell the truth, I give you another opportunity to reject me and that is not really much fun.
But what if I just had the courage to be me. And let you be you. What if I created some space around it all? What if I was just me and you were just you and instead of trying to make you look the way that I wanted you to or myself more like your version of me, I just steadfastly remained me? What happens then?
I think that is how we survive the disillusionment. We bring it into the heart of our relationships. We give the other person permission to reject us while maintaining our core of who we are, impervious to your ideas of us being other than who we are. I don’t capitulate or excise myself into a better looking version to fit you. I just show up authentically in my own skin knowing that from time to time you are not going to like it and need something else from me. What if we both gave each other permission to reject the other and then agree to talk about it, instead of feeling it or trying not to feel it and running away?
I think that if the two of us could reveal ourselves in this manner, then we would be able to begin to lay the foundation to survive the many, many disillusions that are part and parcel to all relationships. We are going to let each other down, we are going to fail each other, sometimes because it is just life and sometimes because we are behaving like assholes. Sometimes it may happen because of past trauma or abuse. Sometimes it may be a maladaptive coping strategy that is going to fuck up the whole deal. But what if, instead of bolting the first or thirty-first time our partner lets us down, we just sat with the disillusionment and accepted it as part of a healthy relationship instead of taking it as the first sign of relationship apocalypse.
Instead of allowing the rejection or disillusionment to cast shade all over us and this love that we have, we could instead, both use it as a catalyst to create some space and discuss it. We could give some grace to the other person to be less than ideal and perfect and wonderful. We could just allow them to be the selfish ass that is standing in front of us and see that likely this is not who they are...it is just who they are in this minute. Give twenty and they will become someone else who is likely less triggered, self centered and behaving like a jackass (unless the person you have chosen is really just a completely jackass - then that is on you - you picked them after all).
I will fully admit, I have allowed my own fear of being rejected to be the first of the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse. One shows up and I know the others are on their way, so I bail. I take the rejection, create a story that supports the idea that I should never, ever be disillusioned if the love is real and off I go to start the whole fucking process over again with some new victim. Forever believing that when the love is right, true and perfect, it will likewise be completely defended against my own insecurity and fear and feelings of less than.
Rejection is normal. It is how we make good choices in our life. It is how we discern what is good for us and what is not. It is just a natural thing. Sometimes we are going to run out into the living room naked and say “hey I have this GREAT idea!” And our partner is going to look at us and say, “this is not a flattering look for you.” We get to decide if we care or not. We get to decide if we are going to be crushed by this. Maybe it isn’t a good look for us. Maybe it is selfish or crazy or hurtful. Maybe what we are asking of our partner is requiring them to sign up to be hurt, triggered or damaged by our own request.
My point is that until and unless we allow rejection to come into the relationship fold and take its rightful seat, we are setting up the stage for it to always and forever run the show from behind the curtain. If I love you and allow you in my life, you are going to reject me. You are going to hurt me, let me down, likely lie to me and behave in ways that I wish you wouldn’t. And so am I to you! So instead of taking this behavior and pathologizing it, let’s just welcome it in and make some room for it. We are going to reject each other. It really is more about how we do it rather than the fact it is being done.
I believe that if we do this, we will be able to survive the resulting disillusionment and keep the love going after the crushing blow disillusionment levees. We can both remain standing, committed to reject and be rejected and hold hands while the let down happens. Let all the wishes for things to be other than what they are to just pass us by and look deeply in each others’ eyes and discuss what just happened, one heart talking to the other heart...finally.