Rejection hurts, separates and divides us, be it from one instance or a thousand. Children and careers catapult us into a world unduly pressed for time where I've heard time and time again "Our wants and needs don't hurt us." In truth, as I came to realize long ago, by living my own Days of Our Lives soap opera in real time, when we no longer prioritize and nurture our ever-fluid relationships, it will eventually destroy us.
According to a recent Huffington Post blog by Mache Seibel, M.D.: "New brain studies by Naomi Eisenberger of UCLA showed that when a person feels rejected, the dorsal anterior cingulated cortex of their brains 'light up' in the same areas as the brains of persons experiencing physical pain." Remember this worn-out definition of insanity: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." With each rejection, we feel indescribable pain, yet we continually seek solace from the source of our pain -- all the while trying to escape its aftermath, like a moth continually drawn into the flames, until it is consumed.
Numerous studies continue to bombard us daily, offering countless reasons why we, as couples, no longer stay together. Karen Stewart, a divorce and relationship expert, stated in a Fox Business article by Casey Dowd, that lack of communication is the number one reason she hears why couples, and especially baby boomers, are divorcing. Could it possibly be that too much communication could be just as destructive, especially when its conversed through social networks, rather than through each other? Damn Facebook. I'm a fan I guess, but when we're "all" sharing how wonderful our lives are moment by moment, it has to play havoc on the rest of us muddling through our daily "mundane" routines.
Careers too, find a way to drive just one more wedge between us, as our drive to succeed relegates much of our interpersonal relationships to the back burner. Time becomes a most sacred commodity as we juggle kids, work, finances and life. I got it; life happens. As adults, we are old enough to give more, expect less and stop asking for undivided attention when there are only "24 hours in a day." Unfortunately, we all have feelings, regardless of our ages, and the pain of rejection is no respecter of persons.
Males, with whom I can empathize, see more of what they are "not" getting in the relationship, while women, whom I can somehow empathize with, are more attuned to what they expect from us in the relationship. This constant flux of push and pull presses our relationships to the breaking point and turns the happiness we lovingly aspired to achieve, into a battle of wills where there are no declared winners, only losers.
With our divorce rates continuing to soar, it's no wonder our kids today are putting off marriage until their late 20s and beyond. Our children have become disillusioned and broken with relationships in general, as they see half of all their moms and dads, careening down the slippery slope to estrangement and separation.
Being the last of the baby boomer generation, I reflect back to the days of my parents when for better or worse, marriage actually meant something. They displayed the tenacity of perpetual togetherness. They stuck together for better or worse because of something I'll refer to as stick-to-itiveness. (If that's not a word, it is now.) For the most part, they saw no other reasonable and or acceptable options; they made their marriage work. By God's amazing grace, together they weathered the storms, provided financial security and offered their children lifelong stability. They also managed to grow old with grace, together. Were they always happy? Did they experience rejection? I can't answer that for everyone. What I can tell you is that my much-loved and cherished parents always managed to outwardly express their love to us unconditionally, and never fought or argued in our presence.
Today, we are inundated and wired on all sides and cylinders, 24/7, as we are moved, dragging and screaming, feet first, with our children leading the way, through this information age. Google has the answers, Facebook has the friends, and to some degree, certain web sites have the "benefits." It's no wonder we can no longer stick together as couples, bound with this all encompassing stick-to-itiveness. Instead of talking to each other, we're talking to the world, speaking with old friends or making new ones in hopes that surely something better awaits than this, which has become our "deplorable" state.
My argument is simple. When the lights of love began to twinkle in our eyes and flow into our hearts, we couldn't get enough of each other. We placed each other on gilded pedestals on which we could do no wrong. Then suddenly, life happened and threw us down from the lofty perch face-first, and brought us into reality. Life with all its twists and turns does that; I got it again, hook, line and sinker. My question is, when faced with this reality, what can we do or should have done to keep each other first in each others' lives? When did we stop prioritizing each others' wants, needs and concerns? Those are the questions many of us will never get to answer in real time, but only through reflection.
If you find yourself struggling with the effects of rejection in your own current relationship, are you willing to make the effort to lift up each other again toward the pedestal? Will you strive to put each other first and foremost and chance that just maybe you can recapture that romantic love that brought you together in the first place? The pain of rejection can be healed if we will make uninterrupted time for one another -- to talk, laugh, cry and romance our way back into the twinkle and glow of each others' eyes.
If you've discovered another ideal to prevent rejection from establishing its hold on you while bouncing through the trials and tribulations of perpetual togetherness, kindly let me know and I'll compile all the answers and share the common threads. There is no right or wrong answer here. We are now or will be, at some point in our lives, swimming up this stream together.
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