There’s nothing quite like a piece of rejection pie. It not only tastes horrible when you first experience it, but all it takes is a little reflection and the taste is right back in your mouth – almost like it never left. Rejection, when it’s attached to a human that you love, or hope to love, is easily the worst brand. Luckily, even with the worst form of rejection pain, we can all dig deep and find inner power. The strength to overcome the pain is sitting inside us, we just have to tap into the stuff. Once found, we can give anyone that doesn’t see the value we add to a relationship a solid “screw you, I’m amazing without you.” We can. Many of us don’t. I surely haven’t been that kind of person for most of my life.
I don’t recommend this “screw you” mentality in an existing relationship to be clear. If you’re in a committed thing, you can have a killer inner strength, but still be selfless and love your partner with all their glorious flaws. I’m talking more of the pain of rejection and how we deal with it.
I’m very grateful that as of today, I don’t have to worry about chanting “I Will Thrive” with the all important categories of love and passion with a woman. Yet, that was not always the case, in fact, I seriously can’t believe I have such an amazing life partner.
To get real transparent here though – I’ve had times that knowing I have a great wife and an amazing family have led me to feel even worse during pity parties about my creative life. What? How is that even possible you big stupid chank? It’s a thing because deep down I know I already have the most important box checked off that leads to real fulfillment in life. Money doesn’t bring meaning, but relationships and family do. The increased pitty poo poo happens because I wish I could just be content with my blessings. I’ve even allowed myself to fall into a really awful place where I wished my soul didn’t ache to create art. Then I could just settle on job and stop kicking my arse about creating – and be fine knowing I already have what is most important.
Well, that is just not me. I have to create. I always will. And – thats cool man, its cool. I know now that we all have far more than one purpose. Being a husband and father is one very important purpose that I love. But, creating art is also an important purpose I have to satiate or I will go freaking bonkers. Be very careful about the idea that you only have one purpose. It has led a lot of people on a goose chase where all you catch is a duck, a duck that bites off your left ear and ends up being a follower of Satan. I also submit that neglecting who you feel you really are is even more dangerous than a satanic duck. Alright, with that – let’s talk about women stories! Ho!
Tales of the Women Folk
I was 3 years old at my uncle Ron’s wedding. I was a ring bearer, but, I all I wanted was to be the bearer of the little girl’s hand next to me. Getting her to hold my hand as we walked down the aisle proved difficult. She declined and left me standing there. I then had one of the biggest tantrums of my life up to that point – I have been told. Little lame aisle girl refusing little Walter Wes on that day is a pretty good representation of my life with women until I met my wife.
A couple examples: My prom date cried for 1/3 of the dance – not really a great sign is it? My short lived elementary school girlfriend dumped me for a boy named Elliot because he had wavier hair. In college days there were a couple girls who I thought dug the Wesly lands – but alas they had previously placed their stakes in different territories. That metaphor is a little off isn’t it? One girl wrote me a beautiful poem, we even had a special time exact time of the day to think about each other, and then she disappeared – literally. It wasn’t me I swear.
The most epic let down with girls must have been in high school. Keep in mind how I felt about myself back then: chubby, poor, unconnected, not terribly useful, horrible student, but hopefully an ok friend and son. It was 2 days before a girls choice dance; a date that I had no intention of going to – because obviously all the girls at school knew I was an uncatch. But to my astonishment, a very beautiful and nice girl who I will call Martha Granks asked me to the date. We had a couple classes together in the previous years, and honestly I was so excited. I had a glimmer of hope that maybe I had more to offer than I thought.
Out in here Utah land it is a common occurrence for these school dates to have two parts:
1st – The day date
2nd – The dance at the school
If it was a girls choice dance then the girls planned everything. I don’t remember in the slightest what we did for the day date. It was lame for sure. I do remember that I was so nervous, but felt like it was going well. I made Martha and her friends laugh a few times. Yeah man, I got this. No Wes, you don’t have anything.
Later Martha picked me up for the dance portion of our date. Oddly, she sat in front with a girlfriend and I sat in the back of the car with the other dude. Suddenly I felt like I was on a date with the dude next to me more than Martha. He would have been a better date for sure. Martha didn’t look at me or even talk to me once as we drove to the school, which was a good 15-20 minute drive. She did manage to fit me into her conversation with her friend upfront in a really loving and caring way.
My conversation with the dude in back lasted about 2 minutes then died, I think he was feeling awkward about being in back with me as well. So we just sat and listened to the girls talk. Martha then started talking about dating: “Yeah, it’s so frustrating. All of the good boys get asked so early before the dance that there are none left by the time I get to asking.” Wait. Did she seriously just say that? No way. No one is that heartless right? She wasn’t even speaking quietly! I figured I must have misheard. I looked over at my man date and his expression was a confirmation. He knew that I had only been asked a couple days before.
Ok, you can feel a little sorry for me on that one. As you can imagine, this magical Martha moment didn’t do wonders for my self image. You kinda suck Martha. You would think that after all these years and having a super hot and loving wife that an old high school story like Martha and Her Good Boys Gone wouldn’t bother me at all. But rejection is pain. Check out this study by Dr. Guy Wench, not be be confused with some guy and his wench. That was awful, sorry.
Dr. Guy Wench on the Rejection Case
“Rejection piggybacks on physical pain pathways in the brain: fMRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. This is why rejection hurts so much (neurologically speaking).
In fact our brains respond so similarly to rejection and physical pain that Tylenol reduces the emotional pain rejection elicits. To test the hypothesis that rejection mimics physical pain, scientists gave some people Tylenol (acetaminophen) before asking them to recall a painful rejection experience. Participants who received Tylenol reported significantly less emotional pain than subjects who received a sugar pill. Psychologists assume there is a specific reason for the strong link between rejection and physical pain. We can relive and re-experience social pain more vividly than we can physical pain.
Try recalling an experience in which you felt significant physical pain and your brain pathways will go, ‘meh’. In other words, the memory alone won’t elicit physical pain. But try reliving a painful rejection (actually, don’t do that right now- just take my word for it), and you will be flooded with many of the same feelings you had at the time, and your brain will respond much as it did at the time too. Our brain prioritizes rejection experiences because we are social animals who live in ‘tribes’.
This leads to the next aspect about rejection we often overlook. Rejections send us on a mission to seek and destroy our self-esteem. We often respond to romantic rejections by finding fault in ourselves, bemoaning all our inadequacies, kicking ourselves when we’re already down, and smacking our self-esteem into a pulp.
Most romantic rejections are a matter of poor fit and a lack of chemistry, incompatible lifestyles or wanting different things at different times and other such mutual dynamics. Blaming ourselves and attacking our self-worth only deepens the emotional pain we feel and makes it harder for us to recover emotionally. But before you rush to blame yourself for blaming yourself, consider that you might not be thinking clearly in those moments.”
Past Rejection Does’t Mean Jack About Our Future
Well, being an almoster makes me want to allmoister my pants because it is all about rejection. Again and again my creative efforts have not quite cut it. Old me would take a long swim in the cold waters of rejection and wallow in my failure. Today, I’m having fun laughing at my past and thinking of ways I will thrive into the future. More rejection is guaranteed to come my way, and I welcome it just like I’d welcome my grandma into my home. Come on over grandma rejection! Martha and Her Good Boys Gone could be another killer band name though. No dibs, take it if you want it.
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