It was a crisp spring morning. I heard the birds chirping in the trees while my husband was getting children ready for preschool and kindergarten. I was still recovering from surgery, oblivious that my sutures were unraveling around internal blood vessels. Slightly delirious, I walked over to the bathroom and passed out, jerked back to consciousness by the screams of my 3-year-old who found me on the floor in the pool of blood. I heard his voice trail off as he bolted down the stairs to get my husband.
There was no time to lose. One phone call later I was admitted to the hospital to manage my pain and profuse bleeding. My husband desperately reached out to friends and family for help and support. One by one he hung up the phone after leaving voice messages or listening to how busy everyone's social calendars were. I sensed he was frazzled with the thought of how inconvenient this call appeared to everyone in the middle of their daily routine.
I had no idea how much blood I had lost until the doctors found out that my hemoglobin count had dropped to a critical level in a matter of a few hours. Blood transfusion was not possible due to complications, and I wasn’t stable enough for immediate surgery. All I could think of during my lucid moments was not just the intense fear of dying, but also fear of abandonment. I felt helpless and alone, separated from my kids and my husband, isolated in a hospital bed with alarms, wires, and monitors hooked up to my frail body. But the physical pain I felt was mild compared to the intense emotional pain of rejection I experienced from the people I thought would be there for me.
As my body was giving up, I was also unraveling on the inside, imprisoned by the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that were intensified during that moment of crisis.
Do you fear rejection from the world you live in? Rejection from your family, your co-worker, your children, a social gathering of friends or colleagues? If so, you’re not alone in this. I felt it too, but I found a way out. Below are the first few steps I took toward my healing.
Step 1. UNDERSTANDING/ Recognizing the roots.
Where does the fear of rejection stem from?
Having a clear picture of how a certain issue entered our lives will help us know how to deal with it later.
If we have had experiences of being neglected or unheard during moments of crisis or emotional needs in infancy and early childhood, our hearts felt the sting of abandonment. Our brains store these emotional wounds and feelings of rejection. When we face certain events later in life, these feelings are triggered from our earliest memories.
The fear of rejection stems from our earliest experiences. We, humans, are hard-wired for connection with other human beings. Our nervous system is constantly building up or tearing down neural pathways based on our childhood experiences from our parents and early caregivers. The feelings associated with these interactions are also reinforced in our emotional brain. Over time, we form belief systems around our experiences. This includes both negative and positive events.
One incident I could clearly remember was being isolated from other family members as a young child due to contagious illness, mumps, and rarely attended to by a caregiver. During that time I experienced feelings of rejection and abandonment. As a result, I established the belief that I was not worthy of care, nurture, and attention. The same feelings popped into my mind during my health crisis and hospitalization.
Attachment dysfunction is a core issue tied to feelings of rejection. The dysfunctional childhood attachments I had experienced early on with separation and neglect caused a negative pattern in my relational blueprint. The traumas of my past reared its ugly head in my adult life. They showed up like a thief in the night wreaking havoc on my emotional, physical, relational, and social connections with others. Ultimately they stole my physical health.
Step 2. DECISION/ Facing the problem.
I acknowledged rejection and stared fear in the eye.
On that day in the hospital bed, I was overcome by gut-wrenching soul-wringing feelings of being unseen, unheard, and forgotten by this world and God, if there was one. I thought about my children, their future, the pain they would face; the desperation, loneliness, and the hole my absence would create in their hearts. I would repeat the same cycle of wounding for them—the fear of abandonment and rejection from the Universe. I envisioned tears streaming down the faces of my children as they reach out their hands to be held and comforted by their mom who would no longer be there. I felt their angst, their pain of physical and emotional loss. I didn’t want them to experience what I did—the pain of grieving a lost mother-child relationship. I had a living mother but our relationship had undergone a proverbial funeral.
Suddenly, I wanted to fight for my life harder than ever. If I ever left this hospital room alive, I would love and live fiercely every day for the rest of my life! I prayed every prayer I could. I wanted to see my children graduate from college and my daughter walk down the aisle on her wedding day. I made a decision in my heart that night that I was going to face the broken shards of my childhood—piece by piece—and restore my purpose that was stolen from me. I was ready to reach out for help and support from safe people and a safe community.
Rejection, trauma, and fear have a way of stealing the life we were once destined to live. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your grave doesn’t need to hold your story.
Facing the broken shards of your past is the way forward. You are chosen and placed in this world with a unique purpose that only you can fulfill. Your broken past does not need to define your future. You don’t equal something that happened to you. You are one of a kind, with innate worth, created on purpose to live in connection with others in the community. Your destiny is uniquely set apart for you to live out.
During that dark time of my life, I acknowledged I was in the lowest dumps with my emotional health. I also realized that it was tied to my physical health. By acknowledging and owning your pain and reaching out for help, you have won half the battle. Redeem your purpose by facing your rejection and your fear narrative.
Step 3. OPENNESS/Braving transparency.
I broke my silence and reached out for help.
I was finally ready to battle with my emotional giants: childhood trauma, neglect, abuse, feelings of abandonment, rejection, and fear of the future. I realized the impacts of my childhood traumatic events and attachment dysfunctions. They had riddled my innate template and biological design for connection, but it was time to stop the cycle.
I made a decision to reclaim my worth, dignity, and purpose. I found a therapist and a community that could contain my pain until I could begin to hold it myself. My brokenness didn’t need to become my identity. I began to let my masks down, to trust incrementally, and to heal the trauma and rejection of my past by facing my wounds and giving words to my story.
Feelings of rejection and fear can become our gifts of healing.
Don’t let silence win! We avoid pain due to our fear of being hurt again. We need to be seen, heard, and understood by real flesh and blood people in our zip-code. We need truths to replace lies we have believed. Shame is a liar and tells you that you are not worthy of healing. Don’t let shame steal your future. When the power of authentic story, a sacred vulnerability in a safe community with safe people, and our faith intersect, healing is inevitable.
Rejection says, “You are not good enough.” Fear says, ”Live in a straight jacket.” Strap rejection and fear with a five-point harness and get in the driver’s seat. You can hold grief and gratitude together and experience growth through the process of facing your feelings of rejection and fear. But you don’t need to do this alone. And you don’t need to wait for a catastrophic event to make this decision. Soul-full living is a choice you make daily.
Drop the perfect and live your authentic self.
You are called to live in your full potential and in the greatness of what you are destined for. Your grave doesn’t need to hold your broken story. The world needs your redeemed story. You can live again. If you are still breathing, you have survived. There is no pain too deep, no one too lost for the inner light to shine again. You were born into this world with infinite potential that still resides in you.
So drop the perfect. Don’t let your inner critical voice or your circumstances own your thoughts. Your authentic self and the power of your vulnerable story has value. You can ignite a movement in your life and in the lives of others with the power of your transformed story!
Anita M. Oommen is the author of the best-selling and award-winning book Picking Up the Shards. (get a copy on Amazon).
She examines decades of her battle with soul-wounds from early caregivers in her life. She shares her personal account of childhood trauma, neglect, rejection, and abuse. She decided to write her story to provide a roadmap for others to help pick up, embrace, and heal the broken pieces of their lives. You don’t have to settle down for the vicious cycle of living perpetually with the effects of family dysfunction in your brain, body, and emotions. You can thrive by choosing to live, deciding to forgive, and inviting reconciliation.
Through her writing, she hopes to pass the gift of healing forward and give a voice to those with similar stories. To connect with Anita M. Oommen or for more information about her work, visit:
For help on your journey, connect with the author on social media at:
Be on the lookout this spring for upcoming releases of a quote book/journal workbook with affirmations for your healing journey. Sign up at www.brokenliferestored.com to be the first one to know about future book releases.
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