Rejection In Recovery
By: Rose Lockinger
Before I start this post I just want to say that it is possible to recover through hard work and the assistance of treatment, therapy, and AA. Perhaps one of my biggest fears is that of being rejected. The thought of being alone for the rest of my life terrified me for many years. As a child I always felt different and this sense of loneliness intensified my fear of exclusion from others. One of the greatest gifts of recovery has been a sense of inclusion and feeling at home. For the first time in my life when I am with others who struggle with the same disease I do I experience a feeling of belonging, that I never thought possible. With that said lately I am struggling with intense feelings of social awkwardness, that often stem from fear of being rejected.
What I mean by this is that I sometimes find myself believing that the way that I feel is not alright because it does not appear to be inline with my expectations of what I believe I should be feeling. I know a little bit of an oxymoron but true nonetheless. For me it is still hard at times to truly acknowledge my feelings and accept them. This is similar to me finally getting to a point where I am unapologetic about my recovery
One place in particular where I find this to be true is my fear of rejection. I have been sober for a little while now and yet I still find myself afraid at times of being rejected. I find that I struggle in large social settings because I am terrified that I will say something or do something that will be deemed socially unacceptable or stupid. Due to this I feel very uncomfortable and find that I walk on eggshells because I am afraid of upsetting anyone.
Adding to this is the general belief that I should not feel this way because I am now sober, I have an understanding of who I am, and I have God in my life. I internalize ideas like what others think of us is none of our business and we are no longer afraid of others, as things that I should be feeling and since I don’t, I often times berate myself for not being further along. This does nothing to help with my social anxiety or fear of rejection and if anything it actually hampers my ability to face my fear.
So this brings me to the question that I ask a lot of the times, how does one go about dealing with rejection in recovery? From what I wrote above you can probably tell that I don’t necessarily have the answers to this, but what I do have are some of the experiences that I have faced in recovery that have helped a bit with overcoming my fear.
My fear of rejection has decreased since I’ve been sober and I think part of the reason for this is because I finally realized that I wasn’t made of glass. Finally getting sober was one of the most emotionally difficult things that I have ever faced in my life and since it didn’t break me I found a bit of strength that I never knew that I had. Sometimes I am able to own this strength and realize that even if I were to be rejected it wouldn’t be the death of me because after facing my addiction, nothing can really break me.
Another way that I have learned to deal with rejection in recovery is by dealing with rejection. Getting rejected sucks, there is really no other way of putting it, but it never really hurts as bad as I think it is going to. Recently I have been dealing with my ex-husband and a lot of the issues that surround that situation. In a sense I have had to deal with his constant rejections, not of us getting back together, but of me as a person. He cannot and will not see who I am and so I face his rejection on a regular basis. As tough as this situation has been, it has also been good because throughout all of it I have been trying not to give in to the negative thoughts that tell me that I’m worthless. I am trying to face this rejection and not lose myself in the process and it has been a valuable lesson.
Learning to love myself has been another way that I have dealt with my fear of rejection in recovery. I believe that not loving myself is probably the basis for the fear. The fact that for so many years I didn’t love myself and placed my own self-worth in the hands of others meant that I learned that to be rejected was to be worthless. Once I started to place my value on internal and not external things, I began to not fear rejection as much. However, I have found that learning to love myself is a process that is not completed overnight. With every step, I take towards self-love I uncover more self-hatred that has to be dealt with and so coming to truly accept myself will take time and practice, lots of practice.
Lastly, I have started to understand that everyone to a certain degree is afraid of rejection. As human beings, we crave companionship and the acceptance of our fellows. There is really no way around this and most people on some level care about what other people think of them. Understanding that I am not alone in my feelings has allowed me to accept them a little bit more and in doing so the fear of rejection doesn’t hold as much power over me.
I am not entirely sure that I will ever be free from this fear but what I do know is that with the Steps and the tools that have been shown to me I no longer have to let it rule my life. I may still be uncomfortable in certain social settings but I am going to try to not be so tough on myself because that really serves no purpose. In time I have faith that I will be less afraid and more confident, but until this happens I will just continue to trudge the road.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.