“Today you are YOU,
That is TRUER than true.
There is NO ONE alive
Who is YOUER than YOU!”
– Dr. Seuss
As abuse victims, most of us are familiar with failure. This is not necessarily because we have failed.
Many victims are successful in the work world. Work may actually help us to deal with the abuse we once endured. It can provide a focus for our energies, sometimes to the point of exhaustion .
What we experience, however, is a persistent feeling of having failed in the most important arena of all; having failed at love.
This feeling stems, in part, from a mistaken belief that we “deserved” the abuse to which we were subjected (surely, if we had been lovable, we would not have been abused, goes the thinking); and, in part, from the failed relationships resulting from that abuse.
But all human beings experience failure. Life is a process of trial and error for everyone. A baby tries to stand, and falls. S/he tries again, and falls again. Eventually though s/he learns to walk, then run.
A Slow Start
Some of us have a slow start. We may, in fact, have been advanced for our years – struggling to develop without the nurturing and encouragement we should, in all fairness, have been provided.
Still, for argument’s sake, let us say we make a slow start. That is no indication of how we will finish.
- One little boy did not speak until comparatively late. His parents feared he was mentally impaired. A teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” The boy was expelled from secondary school for being “disruptive,” and was refused admittance to a prestigious university.
- We recognize now that Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. He is regarded as the father of modern physics .
With or without a “slow” start, we all experience rejection eventually.
- Teachers quickly grew impatient with Thomas Edison’s inquisitiveness. One called Edison “addled.” Edison went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the light bulb. Altogether, Edison held over 1000 patents.
- Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook.
- More than two dozen publishers rejected one children’s book, before it reached the public. The author, Dr. Seuss, ultimately wrote more than forty others, including such favorites as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
- Over twenty publishers rejected the comic war novel M*A*S*H later made into a movie and popular television series.
- Those figures pale in comparison with the 600 rejection slips Jack London received before becoming famous. London’s novel Call of the Wild is studied in high schools across America.
- Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star for “lack of creativity”. The City of Burbank, CA rejected Disney’s proposal for a theme park on the grounds it would attract a bad crowd. Disneyland was built in Anaheim, CA instead. Burbank has still not recovered.
With the benefit of hindsight, we may laugh at these assessments today. But rejection can be extremely painful, undermining our confidence and depleting our resilience.
While we cannot prevent rejection, we can moderate our response to it.
Much as we may catastrophize rejection, in the end, it is merely an opinion. Rejection cannot compete with a Level 5 tornado…or even a drizzle, for that matter. You cannot grow tomatoes in it.
Nor is rejection the final say about our worth, our work product, or our talent. The opinion we have of ourselves is of much greater importance. Plant your dreams firmly in that!
 Workaholism is a risk for abuse victims. Work can become all-consuming, drawing our attention away from unresolved issues relating to the abuse, but leaving us without time or energy for a personal life.
 The biblical patriarch, Abrahm (later called Abraham) is revered by three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He can, however, be said to have made a slow start. While he became a man of great faith, Abrahm did not always follow God’s instructions or trust God to address his needs. Nor did Abrahm always wait on God’s timing. Jesus, Himself, can be said to have made a “late” start in human terms, since He did not begin his ministry until the age of 30.
This series will continue next week with Part 2 – Bad Advice
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