Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fear of Rejection

My primary therapist here at the loony bin says I have major issues with rejection. The way things are set up here, I have one primary therapist who is a psychologist (Ph.D.), one primary psychiatrist (M.D.) and one psychological intern, who is doing his final internship for his PhD. Normally I would see my own therapist most frequently in official sessions (3-4 per week), see the intern an additional twice a week, and see the psychiatrist maybe once a week. Additionally, I would deal with other therapists and interns in group sessions or if situations arose when my regular practitioners were not on duty. The only real way in which my situation differs from the norm is that, because my psychiatrist is a friend of my dad's, I interact with him almost every day, though not always in the form of official exams and/or threapy sessions.

This morning I had a session with my regular psychologist. I wasn't totally ranting about it, but I mentioned that on a website I visit frequently, a comment I made was deleted or somehow disappeared and that it made me very angry. The comment later reappeared, so I was no longer angry. I have no idea if it was a technical glitch that cause the comment not to be there, or if it was a deliberate act by a moderator. I understand that technical errors occur, but if I am deleted for no good reason, I take it very personally.

My therpist says it's because I have serious issues with rejection with which I need to deal. She says it's probably as a result of my early relationship with my mom, who blatantly favored my brother over me until I was about six, when she was able to recognize it as a problem and do something about it. She says also that it was made worse over the prom date break-off from a year ago. She says that if I don't deal with my issues, I'll become the sort of person who totally falls apart and can't function if a guy takes my number and says he'll call, then doesn't, or that if someone with whom I'm in a serious relationship breaks it off, I'll become practically suicidal.

I'm not sure how much I agree with her assessment. I considered myself 100% over and moved on from the prom incident. I've been to two proms since then, and I consider the case closed. She said it's not that simple -- that I can say I'm over it, but if it makes me think two hundred times before accepting another date, I'm not as over it as I think. I think it's a crazy world out there and one must be cautious before agreeing to go anywhere alone with anyone one doesn't know well. In some ways it's a non-issue, because as a sixteen-year-old, my parents won't allow me to single date, so I'm not going alone anywhere with anyone anytime soon. The therapist says I still need to deal with it, because time will pass sooner than I think, and then I'll be eighteen and have the right to single date.
I'm still mulling over that.

Regarding issues with my mom, I asked my therapist what she thought I should do to resolve the situation. She didn't have any great solutions except that I should write a letter to my mom detailing my feelings, which I could then choose to give to her or to destroy. I told her that my mom already feels guilty about what happened, so why should I add to her guilt by rehashing things? She said that wasn't my real reason for avoiding the topic. She said I'm afraid of upsetting her and being rejected all over again. I think she's wrong.

I won't complain about her, per se, to my psychiatrist, who is the King of the Loony Bin (I wonder if inflates a person's ego to be the boss of a bunch of crazy people and those who directly supervise them) because I honestly think she's doing what she thinks is her job, but sometimes she has to make highly subjective interpretations, and I think she's wrong about this. I will seek out his opinion, though, under the condition that he say nothing to her about it. She'll be guarded to the point that she's totally ineffective with me if she thinks I'm sharing everything she says with her boss. I'm not saying early rejection from my mother didn't contribute to my situation, but I don't think writing my mom a letter, even if I tear it up before mailing it to her, will help anything. I know what my thoughts are on the matter. i don't need to put them on paper to know what they are. to me it would feel ridiculous to write a letter that I know I'm going to destroy. It would be different if I really needed to sort out my relationship with my mother, but we've done the counseling thing to death. There's nothing more to be analyzed.

Still, I understand to some degree where my therapist is coming from. I just don't agree with every aspect of her interpretation, nor do I agree with her take on how best to address the problem. On the other hand, I don't want to become a person who loses it because I guy no-shows for a date, or even if someone leaves me at the church by myself because he fails to appear for our wedding. I'd like to think I could deal with it if something like that happened. My therapist would say that the very idea that I'm considering being stood up at my own wedding indicates I have a problem with fear of rejection.

It's so complicated.


  1. This is so ironic. My therapist said the same thing about me. Only it has to do with Dr. Di Lorenzo and years and dozens of doctors rejecting me. I don't see it either... ok, I sort of do, but it's something we're working on.

    Avoiding certain situations on the basis of being rejected, points in the direction of rejection issues, I think. What helps me is cognitive distortion therapy, in regards to my concerns of being rejected. It's basically a list of questions to ask yourself about how you are reacting to a situation. Whether you are "future telling", or "mind reading, or making "should statements".

    As much as cognitive distortion therapy helps with my anxiety, it really makes me question a situation. Sometimes, as was the case with Dr. H... I was attempting to give her the benefit of the doubt so to say with this therapy, but my initial perceptions were correct. Another issue I have with CDT is that I get to an ok point cognitively, but I still won't do the action I'm afraid of being rejected from. That's the big problem, and all the questions in the world won't help that.

    But, some of the questions are good to ask yourself. Maybe, this would be a help to you, too, if you felt the need to question yourself. I think it’s good to do every now and then anyway… it’s always good to clear your mind. : )

  2. Thanks, Becca. Any feedback hekps.

  3. I think most people have a fear of rejection, especially at your age and with all that has happened, just in recent years. It's something all people have to deal with though, whether it's a boyfriend, a job interview, exams, kids (bc, you know, kids can reject their parents too), dates and love, etc. The way *I* have dealt with rejection is my perception of it. As in, did I learn from the experience, good or bad, then *I* am better off with it because it's ADDED to me. It's added to my knowledge and I can choose how I want to deal with it. Some things you can let slide completely, others you might want to look deeper into.

    Life is not always pretty, as you know. And it's life's experiences (good and bad) that develop us as a person. It helps shape us (it can help us help others later on, or our kids, or our friends/strangers that might experience something like it).

    And sometimes a rejection is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps being rejected opens up another whole series of doors that we wouldn't have realized where even there if we hadn't been.

    Of course, going back in time to when you were little, it has probably added an extra dose of trust issues, caution and whatnot. However, it's made you stronger and weaker and has given you challenges and experiences you wouldn't have had without it. I don't personally view weaknesses as a bad thing, just something that makes us human.

    My mother was a complete and utter psychotic bitch. She should have been medicated before EVER having us kids (I am the youngest of 4). And even though I had no REAL relationship with her (by choice, as I grew up and learned to THINK), she had a made me stronger as a person because she was such a psychotic bitch. I grew up way before my time. It was needed though. It helped in ways I wouldn't have thought of when I was in HS or younger. I knew I hated her, hated what she was and how she treated my family. I had learned though, to look inwards and see WHY I hated her and I learned more about myself because of it. I know hate is a strong word, and most people freak when I have ever had to talk about my mother (btw, I started calling her by her first name when I was about 17, mainly because it hurt too much to call her Mom -Moms shouldn't treat their kids in such ways as she did...so that was one of my coping ways), but it was the only way I could think of the pain and heart ache. Sadly, it is probably one of the only things I can be thankful to her for, making me stronger.

    I don't think you hate your mother. And I don't think your therapist is getting the whole of you in this matter. You are a very intelligent person, who has gone to Hades and survived, which is a HUGE accomplishment (besides all the athletic and academic ones) and you are still growing as a person. You're still growing into yourself.

    Any advice, from a therapist or Dr to family to strangers on your blog, should always be taken with a grain of salt. No one is all knowing or all wise. You just learn to trust who you are and your instincts.

    And I agree with Becca, questions are always good :) It's the honest answers you give youself that help just as much though.

  4. to summarize.

    Your post was very thought-provoking, and I'm still digesting it. I think that self-doubt and fear of rejection are more the norm than most of us think, and that our feelings are not as unique as most of us would believe.

    You're right that i don't hate my mother. We bonded just after I donated bone marrow to her. Something else would have brought us together even had it not been the bone marrow transplant. She would have eventually seen what she was doing. My mom understands that I have forgiven her, but i can't erase all the past events from my mind. i assume she'd prefer I not go on "DR. Phil" or some similar national forum to air my grievances, but she has to know that i discuss them from time to time. a blog is not a bad place, as i'm semi-anonymous here, and I'm not revealing any secrets about my eraly family life that anyone who knows me in person who reads doesn't already know about. i just don't see any point in rehashing anything again with my mom. She already knows she screwed up, and she can't undo the past. And in some ways I am a stronger person as a result. What's the proverb? Something like"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

    My mom was never the evil witch your mom sounds like. She just preferred one kid over the other. I don't think she was ever deliberately cruel to me. I had a father who worked most of the time but was very nurturing to both kids when he was home.

    I don't want to exceed maximum characters, which was part of the problem with the original post. This computer, also, will not allow me to sign in, so though it syas "Anonymous," it is truly I, Alexis. Thanks again for your response.

  5. Alexis, to get where your psychologist got, she will have written a dissertation.

    I wonder if her subject was something along the lines of fearing rejection? Just a thought, because experts see the problems of their patients through a distorting lens of their PhD dissertation.

  6. Matt, that's interesting. I'll ask her about her dissertation and other research topics.