This article was originally featured on Elephant Journal. See it here.
Dear Fear of Rejection,
I see you, and I see my laser-focus looking for clues that I’m about to be rejected. I feel the tightness in my throat and the weight on my chest. I hear the thoughts in my head reminding me of the past. I hear my mind’s direction telling me to run—get out of there ASAP or risk utter heartbreak.
I notice my awareness of the madness you cause that nudges me to wake up to a different view.
I notice my awareness of you, and I see the damage you leave in my life.
I feel my desire to be free of you. But my awareness alone can’t do that—and I’m willing to be honest about my disappointment over that.
I feel the pull between wanting to have relationships where I feel safe and wanting to be alone.
I sense my desire to love freely.
I remember your first visit and the day you decided to stay for good. That was a painful time in my life, and I wonder if you meant well when you showed me how to protect myself.
I must pay you a compliment. I see your fierce loyalty.
I’ve yet to experience anything like it anywhere else. You’ve been there every step of the way. You’re not picky; you’re there on my best and worst days. It’s an amazing talent you have to turn a perfectly wonderful social interaction into a cesspool of doubt.
I hear you reminding me of the pain, but even more powerfully, I feel you reminding me of it. My body can’t deny the ache in my throat or the pressure weighing on my chest. I’m in utter amazement that you can take the original pain from the past and recreate it in my present.
The pain that accompanies your reminders is the same intense pain I felt back then. It is paralyzing. There’s no pretending or moving forward in the wake of this pain, and I think you know that. It’s this pain that maintains your control. It’s the pain I long to avoid and the pain you push me to run from.
You have to know the circle you’ve created. The circle I kept running in. I long for trusted connection, a connection safe enough to lend my heart, but I fear rejection too strongly. The fear will always win. More of my energy is placed with you than with love and trust, so the connections I make will always be tainted by you.
On and on it goes—until the day I choose to exit the roundabout.
I know this may be difficult for you, but things are changing. We’ve been pals for a long time, and you convinced me I wouldn’t be safe without you.
But I have to be honest: You kind of suck. And I’m ready to experience my life without you.
For transparency, I need to share how things will go moving forward.
I will notice you, sure. After all, you make quite an entrance each and every time; there’s no denying that.
But here’s what to expect:
I will question every thought and memory you dredge up. I will treat you as guilty until proven innocent. I will take my time and be gentle with myself, coming up with my own decisions and opinions based on today, not yesterday.
I will now welcome what you make me feel—those feelings you love, but I run from. No more. I’m feeling them. I’ll stop what I’m doing and sit with the feelings and let them have their way with my body. I’m living proof they won’t kill me, so I might as well allow them to do their thing.
I will stop the cycle of seeking out connection until I’ve completely learned how to lovingly connect to myself. This one will be hard for you because my self-doubt has been the key player in your game. But I will no longer look to fill my life with relationships that ultimately will end the same way. In short, I will handle you before I bring anyone else into the picture.
I will shine the biggest and brightest light on you. No more hiding. I will talk about you, write about you, pray for you, and accept you. Shame will no longer be a way to control me.
I will accept you’re here for the long game. I know you’re not going away easily, and that’s okay. I’m well aware you come from a long line of women in my family, and you’ve happily been passed around among us. Thinking you should be gone for good is just another opportunity to point me out as a failure. So I’m taking that opportunity off the table. If you want to stay that badly, so be it. I’m more than capable of handling it.
So Fear of Rejection, this is it—the end of an era. Our partnership as it was is now complete.
You stand on your own—free to do what you do and say what you want. I too stand on my own, apart from you.
I no longer take orders from you, but accept hearing you murmur in the background. As the days pass, the murmur feels more like a jealous peer trying to keep me from realizing my true potential. A murmur that’s trying its best to distract me from finding what’s been inside me this whole time: love and acceptance.
So I will power on until the day that love and acceptance become the guiding forces in my life.
And you? You’re just a distant, faint murmur I barely recognize anymore.
Good day to you.