Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Rejection



Who hasn't been rejected at one or more times in their life?  We all have.  There are no exceptions.  I think what matters in our life is how we handle rejection.


Me (right with arms folded) with my two younger brothers and my Aunt Mabel (next to me) and my Mother - 1950 - a very insecure boy

When I was younger (from 1 to 17 years of age), I didn't handle rejection well.  I was totally cowed.  Being raised in a household where my father was consistent in his putdowns of me, I was effectively brainwashed into believing that I was unworthy to occupy space in this world.  I wish I could say my Mother compensated for my father's thoughtless cruelty but she didn't.  My Mother was too busy raising three very active sons and keeping the family together in spite of my father's numerous infidelities during the early years of their marriage.  In the later years my father quit working (at 51 years of age) and my Mother went to work to support the family. She wasn't around, she was at Pepperridge Farms with her sister-in-law on the layer cake line doing their best Lucy and Ethel impersonations.

My Mom and Dad with their three young boys - "Pop" didn't really want us - check out the body English - no hugs from him.....ever

When I was in third grade my Mother insisted on me getting a part-time job.  She said "You're going to work."  In retrospect it was perhaps the best decision she ever made for me.  Even better than getting into a fight with my father over his cruelty to me.  

Me - the picture of low self-esteem 1952

She got me a paper boy job.  I had my own paper route at 10 years old.  I learned responsibility.  I didn't have time to sit at home and brood over "woe is me, no one likes me."  I was too busy.  

Every day at the end of the school day I took my bike and went to the Sam Charles News Agency to pick up my sixty plus Philadelphia Evening Bulletins, and 20 or so local paper including the West Chester Daily Local News and the Coatesville Record.  I wish I had pictures of me and my bicycle and those canvas bags of newspapers but I don't.  I didn't get a camera until my 12th birthday and by then I didn't even think of asking anyone to take a photo of me on my bike with my newspapers.

Me getting ready to deliver the Sunday newspapers from our Boot Road home - you can't see my bicycle or newspapers but I remember when this picture was taken because I had to get up early to deliver the newspaper and I wasn't too happy - check out the bags under my eyes

A few years later my Mother also got me a job cleaning offices.  I did that in the evening for .55 cents an hour.  And on the weekends I worked at the Downingtown Farmer's Market at the Brill Brothers Meat Market (how appropriate for a young gay guy) on Friday right after school (I would get off the school bus and go directly to the Farmers Market) and Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm.  Yes, I had three jobs at once.  It wasn't my choice, it was my Mother's choice but I did what I was told.  I didn't question it, and I didn't resent the fact that I had three jobs.  It kept me busy and probably out of trouble but I wasn't the type of kid who got into trouble.

Because I had three jobs I didn't have time for school social activities.  I didn't get involved in after school activities until my junior year at high school.  And that was because I didn't have those jobs any more. The only reason I didn't have those jobs was because we moved to the country and I couldn't walk to my job or ride my bicycle.  

Because I was always outside the mainstream of my fellow classmates and "had to work", I considered myself "less than" because I didn't have the privileged life of most of my classmates who didn't have to work, got allowances and were assured of a college education after they finished high school.  My Mother told me when I entered ninth grade "Take a course that you can earn a living at because we can't afford to send you to college."  Another reminder that I was an outsider and "not good enough" but in retrospect a good decision because I took typing (which I am doing now and have always done since 1958 and never regretted) and learned how to make a practical, if not lucrative, living by office management.  

A pause here, I apologize for the length of this posting and lack of photographs (I'll try to put some relevant ones in). As is often the case when I start a post on one subject I sometimes take a left turn and venture into another area.  Now back to our program:

Because I learned self-reliance at an early age I think I gained the resources to handle rejection.  

Oh the times I was rejected in high school.  Because of my lack of self-confidence and awareness that I was "different" (gay or "homosexual" as my gayness was referred to at that time in the Fifties), I think I helped contribute me being rejected.  The worst was in gym class when it came time to choose up teams.  I was almost always the last to be chosen except if there was really a total misfit in gym class.  I used to pray that Charlie Stimson would be in our gym class so I wouldn't suffer the indignity of being chosen last.  And then there was that one time that is forever ingrained in my mind.  All the sides for the teams were chosen and everyone ran out into the field and NO ONE CHOSE ME!  I was left there.  I think that's when I realized I was going to have to learn how to handle total rejection.  

In the years since then I have been rejected thousands of times.  Either for jobs that I applied for (and fired from two jobs), rejected for friendship (many times) or the Big One, rejected for being gay.  Hey folks, you either learn to deal with the rejection or you go crazy or criminal and to me neither one of those was an option.  Of course there is the other option, become hardened and cynical which has been perhaps the greatest challenge for me in my life. I've seen and known those hardened and cynical people.  To me they are not nice people. In fact, they're hardly human.  I don't want to be like them.

Like most people, I want people to like me.  That is a very natural human want and I am no exception.  But I realize that there are those people who don't like me for a number of reasons. Either because I won't let them control me, or I'm not in their social strata or, the Big One again; because I'm gay.  

This past week end I had my family reunion again.  This year I had the least attendees I've ever had. I don't consider the weekend or the reunion a loss because the folks who came really enjoyed it and they like me.  But I can't help but think that a lot of my family members didn't come because this was the year that Bill and I got married, which I publicized extensively.  I'm not one to hide my gayness.  I'm not ashamed of being gay.  Never have been, never will be.  

Just a few minutes ago I went onto Facebook to check a family member to see if they were still Friends.  Nope, gone.  I've been unfriended.  Why?  Probably because I'm gay.  I can think of no other reason.  Rejection.  Yes folks, even at this late stage in my life......rejection again.  

Also, I recently had a scare that a new found friend had found greener pastures.  I saw the specter of rejection again.  Thank God I read that wrong but it did bring to fore that, as much as I think I can handle rejection, you know folks I'm just as vulnerable as I've ever been.  I don't think any of us can ever really handle rejection well.

Me probably contemplating the low turnout at my family reunion this past weekend - I got caught off guard while Mark was testing the lighting for his camera


All I can do is look forward, put my nose to the grindstone, continue on with my life and be the best person that I can to myself, my friends (who don't reject me), my co-workers, my neighbors and the stranger at the supermarket who I let go in front of me in the line because he or she has fewer things than I do.  

I'll admit that sometimes I'm tempted to just go into my bedroom, curl up with a good book and lose myself to the world.  But instead I will "tough it out" and appreciate those who do care for me and let them know that I love and appreciate them. Those who reject me for whatever reason....well....that..... is ..... their loss.... isn't it?  



So there, I think I've made my point and I now feel purged of these negative feelings, for awhile anyway.  

Remember back last spring when a distant relative of mine threatened me with bodily harm if I dared to "step on his parents' property" when I made the trip to visit them in North Carolina for my genealogy research and to also introduce my cousin and his wife to them?  My cousin objected to my "gay lifestyle" and thus banned me from "stepping foot" on their property.  


This weekend I had my family reunion. No one could ban me from my own reunion that I organized and paid for but they should could boycott the reunion and they did.  Still not a good feeling but one that I will get over, I guess.  

I get a hug from my cousin Beth at our family reunion this past weekend

So what was the point of this blog?  Damn if I know.  I guess it's just to say when I think I have everything under control something comes out of left field to remind me that I'm never completely free of being rejected again.  

It'll take me a while but I will concentrate on the good in my life.  That's what I always do when the Dark Clouds appear.  The Black Dog.  Concentrate on how good you have it Ron.  

I have my loving and devoted Bill.  I have a new wonderful BF Pat.  
My new buddy Pat - best thing that has happened to me in a long time
I have my old BF's Lar, Bill B. and Bill P. (lot's of "Bill's").
Me and longtime friend Bill B.
 I have my good neighbors the Murphys.  I have my relatives who love me in spite of my "gay lifestyle."  I have my co-workers (the ones who like me anyway).  I have my health (in spite of my health challenges this year).  I have my many blog friends (an extra bonus in my life which I appreciate greatly).
Me, Anne Marie and Spo - Blogger Buddies!
 I have a wonderful home in a progressive state that respects me as a human being.  God I am so happy that I don't live in one of those ass crazy states like my former home of Pennsylvania or, God forbid Florida, Texas or Arizona or even North Carolina, which I briefly considered building a retirement home.  


Me and my longtime friend Lar - from the 1880's

I have a lot of good in my life folks and I'm not going to let this latest round of rejection throw me off of my game.  Just ain't going to happen.

My friend Ed and I at Just in Thyme last week


Have a great day!






22 comments:

  1. My view is that i don't have to 'like' everyone and that's perfectly fine. But the reverse is that not everyone has to 'like' me. I'm cool with that.

    As for your so-called family members that boycotted the reunion?
    Pardon my French--as my Mom would say--but fuck* 'em.

    *My Mom would NEVER say that!

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    1. Thanks Bob. I needed a little humor and a reality check here. As much as I've think I've insulated myself from the hurt of rejection, when something like this past weekend happens, it still hurts. I haven't done anything to deserve to be treated like that. I've tried to keep the extended family intact by researching our family history and organizing and pulling off a biannual family reunion. I guess I just have to realize the fact that some folks, family or not, just will not accept me for who I am. It is their loss. It's a shame but there it is. Thanks for your comment Bob.

      Ron

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  2. yep, it's ALWAYS the other person's loss if they choose not to like you.

    I have too many things to do than to worry about who does/doesn't like me. I have spouse, cats, blogger boyfriends; that's enough for me.

    and yeah, even at our "advanced age", rejection hurts for a bit; then I just say FUCK IT and move on.

    gruesome pix up there of the 3 of us! ;-)

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    1. You're right Anne Marie, it's their loss. I'm moving on.

      Ron

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  3. Ron - wow, another superb post. What an engaging and natural writing skill you possess. And great advice. I really like all that you are grateful for. That hopefully always outweighs the rejections. And your mention that it's more important how we deal with rejection is right on. Sometimes you can even turn a rejection around. But better to move on than to grow bitter. Also, nice laughing Ron photo in the sidetrack.

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    1. Thanks Pat. There will always be rejection in our lives, it's just how we deal with it. I don't always do the best but I try.

      Ron

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  4. Ron,

    I guess we all deal with rejection in different ways. You know how much similarity we had in our youth, including being told to not even consider college when we entered ninth grade. I aways wanted everyone to like me, but it often seemed very few did, which was hard to understand because I didn't harm others and thought I was a decent sort. The rejection of other kids at Downingtown and by my father at home drove me to be pretty much a loner. Fortunately for me, in a perverse way, there were those years living in isolation in the swamp. There I learned to be alone and I have never been uncomfortable with loneliness. I also chose a pursuit of something rife with rejection -- writing. Somewhere along the like I came to realize you can't be liked by everyone and it isn't your fault.If I am rebuffed through no fault of my own, I do not let it bother me. I had a number of friends stop being friends when I accepted Christ as my Savior. Sometimes people can't see past the differences to their common humanity and accept someone who doesn't believe everything in the same way they do. The friends I have had have generally been different in many ways from me and I don't see that as a problem, unless one gets insistent that I MUST agree with them. I don't force my beliefs on anyone; I don't hide what I be leave, but it is up to others what they think. Besides, if someone is going to reject you because of what you are, why should you want them in your life anyway? Never let other people control your life by brooding over their rejection. You have plenty of we friends who love you just as you are.

    Your dad stopped working at age 51? Why? Was he in poor health? My dad worked until he was 90 and only stopped because the doctors made him and the state took away his license.

    Long posts bring long comments in retaliation!

    Lar

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    1. Larry,

      We had another beautiful day for the reunion. The folks who were the enjoyed it and were very appreciative. I was very disappointed that more didn't come but probably should have expected it. I'm moving on.

      Ron

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  5. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Ron,
    For the folks that did not come - it is their loss. Count the relatives that did come! It looks like you had a great group of family and the reunion was a huge success. Susan

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    1. Susan,

      The folks who did come we're very nice and greatly enjoyed the reunion and they were very appreciative of my effort which they let me know. They saw that the reunion turnout was unusually low and they felt bad about it but we all still had a good time on that beautiful Sunday day (I always guarantee perfect weather).

      Thank you for your comment.

      Ron

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  6. Sometimes I think we never really move beyond the person we are at 10 years of age or so. Like you, on some level the fears and worries and aspirations I have today are the same now as then. Is growth or transformation really possible then? Or are we doomed to experience the world the same way our whole lives? My own belief is that with time and maturity it's possible to stop identifying with those feelings, even while they are still present and need to be honored as being present. Now that I'm something that loosely feels like "grown up," I notice that I'm able to observe these facets of myself without having them define me.

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    1. The Geezers,
      Just when I think I have buried those childhood demons something like Sunday's reunion which resurrects those old feeling of rejection. I hesitated to write about this subject but my blog is my therapy so I must write about it. Now that I have I have somewhat tamped down those feelings again. Oh sure, some I future incident will bring them alive again but for now I'm moving on. Thanks for your comment.

      Ron

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  7. Ron ....... Karma shines down on you daily in a positive way. I hope you understand reading your blog daily brings a smile and many days have keep me from stepping over the edge. I look forward to a trip north soon ...... My Grandad used to say "keep on keeping on" and I never got it. Today I do.... Ron keep on keeping on.

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    1. Thank you Roger. I try to keep my posts positive. Occasionally I slip into the negative but I try to avoid that all too easy trap.

      I'm looking forward to meeting you at next year's Bloggerpalooza. It's all good Roger.

      Ron

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  8. As Larry wrote "Never let other people control your life..." and hurt your feelings. Great that you acknowledged that feeling of rejection but now, move on. Your friends love you just the way you are. You have nothing to be ashamed of, au contraire, be proud of who you are. Good riddance to family members who do not accept your lifestyle and marriage to Bill. Celebrate who you are and forget about the uneducated bigots!

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    1. Nadege,

      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. You are right and I am moving on. Some things (and people) I just can't change so I will leave them be and move on which is what I am doing now.

      Ron

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  9. Ron,

    You nailed it at the end of this post when you listed all of the people in your life that haven't rejected you. I spent my whole life living with rejection to a point that I did curl up in my room with (many) books. I finally decided that rejection was just part of living so I very recently began to reject rejection. I spent a lot of years not approaching people, thus becoming unapproachable, for fear of rejection. Now I speak to complete strangers mostly in passing and I find them to be receptive to me if even for a moment or two. That is a big step for me. You are truly blessed with your friends and Bill. My feelings today, if people don't have time for me, they are not worth the time I might invest in them. I am happier with myself because of that credo. Not too long ago I wouldn't have even commented on your blog or anyone else's blog for fear of rejection. Not anymore.

    I missed your blog posts while I was away and the internet was unavailable to me. It is good to be home.

    Jack

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    1. Jack,
      Good to hear from you. When I left home for the first time at 18 to join the Army I was almost paralyzed by the fear of rejection. In the many years since then I've mostly overcome that fear but very now and then something triggers it like that empty Pavillion thus past Sunday. I had to start calling around to see if anybody was coming. They did and we had a wonderful time.
      I don't think the fear of rejection ever totally leaves us but we can manage it...somewhat.

      Ron

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  10. You've said it all in this blog post. I can strongly relate to much of what you said. Thanks to the relentless handiwork of my father I had severe low self-esteem and lack of confidence most of my life. I thought I was a piece of shit until I was in my 40's.. Thankfully, I not only learned to like myself but I now thoroughly enjoy my own company. Better late than never......

    It must have been difficult fo you to have so many jobs at such a young age - - but in the long run I think it was very beneficial for many reasons.
    It's sad that some of your relatives are so hateful and judgemental that they wouldn't attend the family reunion. It's their loss. You're better off without them. None of my relatives are that rotten, but I think I completely baffle them most of the time and they don't know what to think.......

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    1. Jon,

      Same here Jon, when I left home to join the Army I didn't have a very good opinion of myself. It took me years to realize I wasn't the loser that my father drummed into my head. Why do father's do that to their sons? I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe it is because of their own low self-esteem.

      Actually, it wasn't too hard to have all those jobs because it was all I knew. I never had a lot of money but I always had enough money. I never got any from my parents, which in retrospect was probably a good thing because I learned self-reliance and probably the reason for my basic conservative outlook on life except in social issue.

      I am more sad than angry at those of my relatives who "disapprove" of my "lifestyle." Who asked their approval? Did they ask me my approval of their "lifestyle?" So stupid and ignorant. I'm done with them. It's like pushing rope. I'm tired of it and not going to spend the rest of my life trying to change them. It's a lost cause. I will appreciate those relatives who aren't so judgmental.

      Thanks for your comments Jon, always appreciated.

      Ron

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  11. As usual, I am last in line.......
    Rejection is such as primal emotion in us all thanks to our primate 'wiring' I feel it continually but I don't usually let it bother me too much.
    When feeling rejected it is best to focus on the acceptance we have - like you do in this lovely entry.

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    1. Dr. Spo,

      Just when I think I have pretty well insulated myself against blatant rejection I am slammed with it and it hurts. I tell myself "It's no big deal" but I am that little boy who wants to be liked. But then I realize that no one is universally liked, there will always be someone who will find fault or a reason to dislike you. How we deal with rejection is the challenge. I can hide the hurt pretty well but it does hurt none the less.

      Ron

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