A Neighbourhood Called Rejection
“Pushing me away to focus on someone/something else. Not just someone/something else but someone/something else more emotionally important who should by rights matter less”
As a young woman in my twenties with S it was his ex-wife
As a teenager with my mother and step-father it was alcahol
As a small child with my father it was his work
And my mother was never particularly warm or nurturing or connected even then, though I can’t think nor try snd offer any tangible focus points. I just know it wasn’t me.
Those are just the obvious, conscious ones. Fact is, I have found that I can trace this silver thread back all the way through my life to before I can even remember
I know I had Selective Mutism as a very small child, beginning just before starting school but not carrying on into my second year. I can’t pin-point a precise reason as to why that developed. I was too young to remember
“Kirsty that suggests that something wasn’t right even then” the counsellor said “Selective Mutism doesn’t just happen”
I know that. I’ve always known that. Everything I know about people and psychology and how our minds work and sheer common sense tells me that. Any attempt at asking my mother about that time period however will simply result in a highly defensive “You were just chronically shy there was no reason” and a debate on what she thinks the defintion of the term irrational fear is (she thinks irrational fears are fears you’re born with. Fact: All newborns are only born with two fears – a fear of falling and a fear of loud sounds. And they are not irrational, they’re essential to survival. Irrational fears are learned and by definition illogical and have no real threat to a persons well being. Like clowns). This is the same woman who has insisted for over 30 years that I was “naturally anorexic” as a baby however because some hick-town quack of a doctor claimed so back in 1987. Mind you, I did discover from her I was *apparently* afraid of tall people when I was very small. Make of that what you will because I don’t know myself!
Our counsellor talks in terms of our minds consisting of neighbourhoods. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Disney film Inside Out but its a very similar concept to the films personality islands. Or at least thats what sprung to my mind
We each have neighbourhoods that are bigger or smaller, ones that are more dominant than others. Its not for me to divulge S’ more prominent neighboirhoods but it turns out the neighbourhood known as Rejection has basically defined all that I am and all that I do and all that I have ever done throughout the course of my life. by and large. I am, it seems, saturated in it
“I think you had already suffered a small “t” trauma from this emotional neglect as a child. Way before you even met S” She said
Yeah, you know what Honey I think so too.
Cant ignore it any more, Kirsty has Mummy and Daddy issues. I winced and pulled a face. I fucking hate clichés.
“If its ok with you Ill ask if we can explore this neighbourhood called rejection together. Think you’ll find its much much bigger than you think. ill think you find its been dominating and controlling your whole life”
I was willing but I glanced at her at that and pulled a skeptical face, nose scrunched and brow furrowed, lips pursed to the side
“Eh, really?! Ok…”
And so we stepped through the gates
“Whats the first thing you see?”
One foot over the boarder into the land of Rejection and its there smack right in front of me. It can’t be ignored. I bumped into it hard. And fuck me its another cliche! I give a sharp short bitter laugh
“What is it Kirsty?”
I squirmed embarrassed and uncomfortable
“Nnnghah!! its so cliché!”
What it was, Reader, was a great big giant fuck-off ginormous screaming glaring statement
“I AM NOT WORTHLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I visualised it as a humungously large billboard; counsellor would later refer to it as a large bonfire seemingly unthinkingly.
The energy in that statement. It was damn near radioactive! Had the environment we were in not been so peaceful and respectful I might have screamed it. I’m always screaming it, internally. I never stop. In any given second Im screaming it, somewhere inside. Flitting from child to teen to adult. Screaming “I am not worthless!!!!” into anonymous blank faces. Into the void
So we explored further, on a kind of dark twisted sight-seeing tour. Oh look! Theres the sense of having always being looked down upon I permanently experienced as a child (in particular whilst living in Wales) and theres the fact I trained my voice to sound more BBC to counter it. And there next to it is the fact that yes it seems people do treat me better upon hearing me speak now. There’s my vested interest in clothes and appearance and that particularly vile, slimy suburb over there is the stigma that came from being a teenage single mother. Thats a vicious area, where haggard women in shawls lean out of their windows and empty their chamber pots filled with judgement and condemnation and stereotyping onto you, cackling as you pass by. Don’t go walking there alone. Or at least take a good umbrella!
Theres the fact I don’t like to be ignored. Theres 11/12/13 year old Kirsty, home alone after school and knelt on the floor screaming and screaming and screaming down the phone to try and get through to a mother whose been out on the piss in the afternoon for the third time that week. She’s screaming because she’s trying to be heard over the noise of the bar because you see, not only has her mother stopped talking to her because her pleas to come home have become annoying but the landlord of the bar -who is familiar with this child now because she’s called so very many times-has left the handset off the hook so she can’t call back. So she screams and screams and screams to be heard, concluding that if she can just scream loud enough someone will hear and pick up and put her mother on
Down the same street is 4/5/6 year old Kirsty, wanting to be involved in her older teenage sisters antics with her best mate but having the bedroom door shut and locked in her face and being left to knock, and call, and then shout and then scream and scream and scream and scream hysterically shoulder-barging and thumping the door in a vain in a feeble attempt to break it down. On the other side of the door her sister is veering between being angry with her and -mostly- mocking her. Not once does an adult come to reassure and comfort the child, to disnegage her, her to cuddle or soothe or to detract her attention onto something else. nope, she is left to scream and scream and scream working herself up into hysterics
I don’t like to be misunderstood. I strive to present myself a certain way true, but I am always always ME. I am determined to be accepted for who I am, even if I often feel that who I am is inadequate
Yes, Rejection Land is vast, cramped and over-populated with many twisting turning streets and allyways. Little shanty-towns littered with bonfires. And theres a wide murky river running all through it like the Thames. Thats the River Rage (another thread running parallel with Rejection that I can trace all the way back since before I can remember. Theres a third, Resentment, and the three of them form an intricate plait. The Three R’s) Occasionally, it floods.
” I think you’ve been carrying this burden with you your whole life…its been prevalent…..you’ve been fighting and fighting to be heard and acknowledged and accepted for who you are all this time. It really is a testament to the iron strength of your sheer will and courage that you keep fighting” (Why yes I did slip in a warped kind of humble brag in there)
The truth of it is this:
S triggered my depression beginning ten years ago with his behaviour and treatment of me over time, but the small “t” trauma was present long before him. Probably from infancy. The events that have left me traumatised in the last ten years all derive from Rejection Land. Everything I have ever done my nut over -trauma aside- can trace its roots back into Rejection Land. If I am ever triggered, it stems from Rejection Land
Almost the entirety of my experience of S throughout the ten years has been “Rejection” in a variety of angles and methods
S did not cause the original trauma, BUT he fed fuelled and exasperated it on a gigantic scale. He may not be the root cause of my original trauma, but that does not absolve him from the fact he has been extremely emotionally abusive. And it was his exasperation of my trauma that ultimately left me struggling with depression for most of my adult years so far
And do I need frequent validation?
Yes. Yes, I do