Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fear Of Rejection

From Hope for Today, page 323:

"Al-Anon is an honest, sharing program. Looking at the part honesty and sharing played in my life opened me to certain realisations. When I'm uncommunicative or dishonest in my interactions, I set myself apart and feel rejected. Conversely, open, truthful communication nurtures feelings of trust, and encourages ne to participate fully in life.
However, as I begin to change my old habits, fear of rejection sometimes tempts me to respond in old ways."

Given my childhood, it is no surprise that fear of rejection and abandonment would be a major force driving many of my life choices before Al-Anon. Rejection by a parent in early childhood leaves a child with a terror that they are somehow "wrong" in their very being - worthless, unlovable.
Through Al-Anon, I have come to understand that for much of my adult life, I was in full panicked flight from the brutalities and loneliness of my childhood. I was afraid of people: of their judgements of me: fearful that I was not good enough: fearful that they would be able to see through my facade to the mess of a person inside.

I was agonisingly lonely, but I didn't know how to begin to trust people. I couldn't share of myself with another human being, because I was a captive of my own fear and distrust. I wore an emotional masquerade of dishonesty. I never told anyone the truth about my past; instead I invented a happy family. I felt the truth would set me apart, and I wanted more than anything to blend in to the background. I wanted to be unseen. At the same time, I moved through my life desparate to be noticed, and loved. I truly did not comprehend that my dishonesty was what kept me apart and lonely.

Dishonesty was such a deeply ingrained habit, that it required a spiritual awakening for me to be able to begin to answer questions about myself with the truth, rather than what I thought the questioner might wish to hear. I had lied about my feelings, my opinions, my ideas, my desires. I was a chameleon, taking on the protective coloration of resemblance to whomever I happened to be with at the time.

Occasionally, I will still fall into the first level of dishonesty - remaining silent when all of my spirit is protesting, because I wish to please the other.

I've adopted some self-preservation tools to deal with situations in which I'd have lied, in the past. When asked a question I do not wish to answer, I can sidestep with some noncomittal reply, or just state that I do not have an opinion worth sharing. (It's not often that I don't have an opinion; an opinion worth sharing is a horse of a different color.)

I can say that I'm not comfortable being asked that question, if that is the case. I can say that I'm not sure what I think, and I'll get back to the person when I am. I can remain silent, and just smile nicely. I can take a deep breath, stop to consider, so that I may frame my reply in the kindest of all possible terms while still being honest, and then speak.

There are several requirements that must be met before I will share some of the more tender aspects of myself - I need to have had the experience of having shared the lighter parts of me, and not been shamed or judged by my listener. I need to know that even if this person fails me or betrays me, I will survive - I have my Higher Power in whom I can trust implicitly, and I have myself - I have learned to trust myself.

I'm still a cautious sort of person when it comes to friendships, and perhaps I will continue to be that way to some degree. I don't trust easily, and I'm more careful than most people about revealing myself. But compared to who I was when I came into Al-Anon, I'm positively extravagant with myself and my sharing. It's a good thing.


  1. And the truth sets us free. God sets us free. I hear your recovery loud and clear in this post.

    God bless you.


  2. I understand what you are writing here. I tend to be very trusting and have had that trust breached several times. Yet I remain filled with hope.