August 26, 2015

Addicted to Rejection.

 Todd Huffman, Flickr

I’ll never forget the day that I first experienced rejection in its rawest and most unforgivable form.

You’re probably expecting me to recall a memory from my childhood—a childhood sweetheart perhaps? A moment in time when the boy in class that you’ve been staring at for so long suddenly glances up from his book, but proceeds to stare towards the girl on the other side of the classroom.

No, it’s not that memory.

I’m recalling the rejection I received from my father.

It’s weird to talk about receiving rejection, because the whole point is you don’t receive anything from the other person. You just feel it: a pit of emptiness.

There I sat, outside a little taverna in Spain, eating pizza in the company of my father and his soon-to-be wife. The two-week holiday had been traumatic, because I’d spent most it arguing with his girlfriend.

That night, another argument erupted between his girlfriend and me, and it was in that moment that my father looked up from his plate, looked me dead in the eyes and told me that if I wasn’t to accept his soon-to-be wife then I was no longer to be a part of his life.


The experience cut deep, like a knife stabbing right through my heart. I could feel the blood drain from my body, yet an overwhelming sense of peace washed over me.

It felt paralysing, but at the same time it was as if everything came to life again—well, my senses at least. Colours became brighter, sounds more magnified, smells more fragrant, tastes more tantalizing and the warm sea breeze on my skin felt good.

It’s these moments in time that really take the wind out of our sails—so much so that all we can really do during the aftermath is to sit ashore, take stock and assess our damage.

However, it’s also during these experiences that a sense of peace washes over the bay and into the survivor’s very being, and it’s that feeling of peace combined with abandonment that I so craved. Rejection. I became a warrior seeking out rejection, looking for a battle and ready for war.

I sought after rejection in the same way that a Gladiator seeks blood and vengeance.

It was my way of self-harming—a form of emotional self-harm—and I was addicted to continuing the pattern of behaviour. Every time I sought another relationship with a man that wasn’t capable of giving himself to me in any way shape or form, I was reliving that deeply-felt moment of rejection from my father.

The unavailable men I sought after became the daggers I used to inflict pain onto myself.

The pain of rejection always kicked in—moments of despair, yet peace washing over me—and I craved to repeat the pattern over and over again. Each time I needed to feel the pain of rejection more—seeking it, lusting after it and yearning for it.

Somewhere deep inside my core, I believed that if I could be the warrior to tame the untamable lion I would right the wrongs of my father. I would prove myself worthier of love and conquer my fear of inadequacy.

At 34, I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem.

An addiction isn’t logical. It isn’t the dependable friend that you think it is. It’s always there by your side like the dependable friend, but it’s destructive and it only wants to take you down the lonely road called destruction.

Until, one day you wake up and you make a choice, you choose to reject the addiction and leave it at the door, not allowing it to enter your world. You chose a life without pain and suffering, because you realize that you’re a child of the universe, sent here by the divine to love and be loved. To connect with life, explore life, to live life and to be happy.

You realize that you’re in control and can attract all the beauty that life has to offer, and you take yourself out of the situations that could cause you to fall down the embankment and back onto the path of your addiction.

You teach yourself positive and liberating mantras and affirmations, repeating them each day, until one day you embody them.

You live with hope in your bag, and you carry it around each day, until one day you no longer need it—you’re living it.

You surround yourself with positivity and people that radiate that from every pore of their body. You take part in nature with walks, yoga, mediation, gardening and healthy eating. When things go wrong, you choose to have that unwavering faith—that same faith that a mother has for her child. The faith that tells you that it will all work out in the end, or as my mother would say, “It all comes out in the wash.”

You realize that everything in life is temporary, including life itself, and this suddenly puts a greater value on your time and how you’re choosing to spend it.

You believe in a higher purpose—a higher being, and I’m not talking religion.

You stargaze and you dance in your living room because no one is watching.

You sing in the shower and you add that spring in your step and when that person comes knocking on your door. You don’t open it until you’re really certain that the person on the other side is available, is interested, is worthy and is everything that your heart truly desires: love.


Author: Leeanne Cooper

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Flickr/Todd Huffman


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