My early childhood started in much the same way as many other children with making friends and exploring life. I remember that I made friends fairly quickly in my neighborhood and at school.
I was more apt to have girlfriends because, as a young boy, before I knew what being gay was, I was gay. I played games like jump rope, jacks, and hopscotch. I preferred these games over any sports that boys seemed to like so much, like baseball, dodgeball, and basketball.
I remember being in 2nd grade and my dad punishing and shaming me for playing with the girls. On his way home from the office, he drove down our street and would see me in the front yard of a girlfriend’s house playing jacks and yell to me to get home. When I got home, he was very clear about his opinions about why I should not be playing girl games in the front yard.
I think in those experiences, I began to feel like there might be something wrong with me. Of course, it did not help that I was confused about looking at boys and men and thinking that I might love them the same way my parents loved each other.
I thought of my girlfriends in different ways that included feeling safe and accepted by them. They were not judgemental and made me feel welcomed to play with them.
I began to see the impact and effects of rejection when my dad moved out and separated from my mom when I was ten years old. It profoundly affected me to see someone who I thought loved me move on to a new life that did not include me.
As I reflect on my childhood memories of my parent’s divorce, I can’t help but think that the seed of rejection was planted for me when I experienced it with my dad in such a significant way. He was overt in his rejection, and as a young boy, it was hard to make sense of my feelings. Finally, I learned to push them down and not let them come out; I know now that I was fertilizing the seed of rejection, giving it the support needed to grow within my mind and heart.
My childhood experiences did not necessarily prepare me well for being in healthy and loving adult relationships.
In my first relationship, It triggered me every time I felt the slightest bit of distance or isolation from my partner. In time, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness, which led to me ending our 20-year relationship searching for myself and what made me feel happy and accepted.
I wish I had remembered all of the lessons that I learned about myself while I was in my second relationship, and I admit that I did not. I found myself being more dysfunctional to avoid any rejection. I held on with a vice grip that I could not release. I held on for dear life to something that did not make me feel safe or accepted.
The ultimate rejection came when he ended our relationship abruptly with words that hit my core hard. After that, I felt the seedlings of rejection grow into fruit-bearing plants. I was single and alone at 50; my worst fears of being rejected from my childhood had come true.
When I left my corporate career in 2017, I had high hopes and even higher expectations for my success as an entrepreneur. I thought, naively, that my success as a corporate leader would somehow lead to my success as a business owner. I was wrong.
Despite my best efforts to reach out and establish a local network of professionals who might be willing to work together, I found little to any interest in myself. Don’t get me wrong; some people asked me to work with them for only a moment. But, more often than not, my vision of what might come from these networking efforts was not shared by other people.
I endured relentless rejection from people I thought might benefit from working with me and vice versa, and I was wrong most of the time. I am massively grateful for those willing to get to know me and join me in developing a relationship and partnership.
The impact of the sustained rejection has now landed me in a deep dark place that most people refer to as a depression. As a result of the rejection, I feel isolated and anxious about almost everything in my life.
I don’t sit still and agitate with overthinking about what brought this into my life. Instead, I look for my part in being rejected by countless people who are only connected by knowing me and yet seem to follow the same playbook. It tells me that I am not accepted here, I am not a part of them, or they do not value me.
Whether these thoughts are valid and factual or not, they impact me and my sense of being. I know intellectually that life and reality are much kinder than the stories we make up. I wish I could see the light beyond the darkness I feel.
Today I experience the harvest of the seeds of rejection from my childhood that appear to be rotted fruit until I don’t.
It is up to me to look up at the fruit trees and see the ripening fruit intended to change my mindset and experience rejection. For me, the healing will be validated when I can see the idea of rejection with its duality, sometimes being painful and hurtful and other times leading me to the places I am meant to be serving and supporting those who value me and my contributions.
I wrote this to express my feelings and thoughts; I am in no way claiming to be a victim in this experience. Instead, I am using my rawness and vulnerability to out myself as someone living with depression.
With much gratitude.
This post is republished on Medium.
You Might Also Like These From The Good Men Project
|Compliments Men Want to Hear More Often||Relationships Aren’t Easy, But They’re Worth It||The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex||..A Man’s Kiss Tells You Everything|
Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock