I came of age in the 1980’s, Ireland was in the grip of a woeful recession, unemployment levels were at an all time high. That was when I was rightly thrust onto the plains of rejection. There were folders of what I termed OFO (Official Fuck Off) letters on the shelf of my doorless wardrobe, from the hundreds of job applications that never came to fruition. There was a biscuit tin of the "Dear John" letters I’d received too, they didn’t take up as much room as the folders of OFOs, though they hurt just as much. Incidentally the wardrobe rejected the door as well, for it fell off one night after screws came lose and frightened the bejaysus out of me, never to be replaced by the man of the house, a talented one who went the way of the drink and rejected all pleas for redemption. There followed a rejection by my country, for it could not sustain my need to survive and to thrive and a few years immersed in another culture almost rejected the fiesty Gael in me as well.
There have been many times when I did not make the grade. Often in the places where I should have been able to assume acceptance, but family cut you out, friends abandon, lovers desert, employers dismiss, society spurns. Suffice to say I am well versed in rejection. It feels a lot like being trapped alone, between a raging sea and a sheer cliff. Rejection has left me bereft, alone on a dark night with shadows of silence pounding in my ears. It has left me spent, with palpitations and tear-stained cheeks and the inability to voice my upset. The reason why I now revel in shouting it from my platform is because I refuse, having swallowed the bitter pill of rejection, to be rendered silent also.
It has taken a lot out of me, there is sheer terror in it sometimes, would I survive it, could I cope? And there is a shame in it, a bafflement, a loss, a grief. I’ve had to cut myself free from my so-called tribe, and that is a very scary prospect at the best of times, it is a bloody painful process. Being rejected by trusted loved ones has deeply impacted my self-worth and my self-confidence. There have been days when I can not lift myself out of bed to face my day.
It isn't at all like a Druid to get all righteous and angry. Hedge Druids especially like to tread very lightly on this plain. We like to leave as we find, leave no trace, respect all things. Neither do we believe in a one true way, rather we live and let live, it is just that sometimes you've got to make an exception. Druidism encourages me to love all beings, to foster the magic that is relationship and community. I like to celebrate difference, to use it as a unifying source. Some days you've just got to stand up and be counted.
Yet rejection is an almost unavoidable aspect of being human. No one has ever succeeded in love or in life without first facing rejection. We all experience it, and yet, those times when we do are often the times we feel the most alone, outcast, and unwanted. The need to be loved and accepted and valued is a core human motivation, it is why we face each day with renewed vigour. We need to be able to give and receive affection to live a healthy life, well I do anyway. I have after all a heart of gold, so try and stop me.
The writer in me too, she has had more rejections that acceptances and what is ironic about all of that is that those ones spurn me on. I understand it to be subjective, one man’s meat being another’s poison and all of that. Somehow, someway, if I submit enough copy the paragraphs will slip through the cracks and I'll find myself published someplace. You see rejection brings me clarity, when one door slams firmly in my face and gets dead bolted, well then, I simply choose another one. Sometimes rejection is life’s way of telling me I need to look at a different way to get to where I need to be.
There’s an old saying: "The strongest fish is the one that swims upstream." Rejection has tested my mettle for sure. It has given me a renewed sense of myself, caused me to retorque my dreams and aspirations. I don’t want a life of regrets and remorse, I go willing. If the rejectors don’t get how I roll, well then I will just have to "keep on keeping on."
I refuse to allow my self esteem to be based on another’s opinion of me. I am half alright, not the worst of them, fairly sound like. One could do a lot worse. A little known fact about rejection, it should especially resonate with the rejectors in my life, is that rejection has taught me how to reject. I am good at walking away. I excel at it now, if you don’t want me, I don’t want you, it is that simple. Rejection isn’t failure. Failure is giving up. Everyone gets rejected. It’s how it’s handled that determines the outcome. There’s nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself, it is the best stock take there is. I have come to now know that when somebody shows me their true colours, I believe them the first time.
In the final analysis there is one tenant that I cling to between my rock and hard place, and it is this. You’d really want to be off your head to reject me and if you do ‘tis your own loss surely. My rejectors probably had more chances that they ever deserved. Somewhere out there in this Vale of Tears are those who will fully appreciate, value, respect, protect and honour me. There are those who are worthy of me, and rejection has enabled me to readjust my sails and allow them to. I would rather have a clear rejection over a fake promise any day of the week. If all my beautiful imperfections are camouflaged to my rejectors, I have no control over their blindness. All of my flaws make me really interesting, and my shadows enhance me. Come in love, come in peace, or EFF right off.
I take to the hills,
To the ancient cairn of my offerings.
December’s balm clearing fog
From my face, my brain, my hurt.
This is my peace place, my refuge.
Dried leaves crunch underfoot
I fancy my boots crushing your skull.
At once the hair whips from my face
And I am Medusa with hissy writhing snakes.
Images of the entrails that I’ve gouged
Out of you, flood my reason and
I smell your blood, fe, fi, fo, fum.
Bile regurgitates, fangs inject venom.
My bloodlust, I scream it inside.
And yet, I could no more hurt you
My darling ones, For we share the same DNA
Breath the same air, can you credit that?
But, by the Gods I am wounded,
From all of your knives in my back.
And I am finding it hard today,
To initiate you in my rituals,
To find love in my heart.
So I sit on Peter’s bench and beg
The mountain to bear it for me...
Being rejected is just something,
You never really recover from.
© Mawie Barrett