i have been so externally focused for most of my life … i thought it was my job to regulate my parents’ wildly fluctuating emotions and moods as a child. when i (inevitably) failed to stop their dysfunction, i blamed myself. this hypervigilance and self-blaming and shaming became ingrained and followed me into adulthood.
yesterday i was rejected from yet another job/company i had applied to work at. it is the latest in a long line of professional rejections i have experienced since leaving my toxic corporate job 4 years ago. now, i have had many positives and many wins over the same period of time, which i shall save for another post. my point right now is to look at why this rejection is so painful and explore what i can learn from it.
in my heart of hearts, i know that the job itself was narrow, and that the hiring manger herself had less experience and was less knowledgeable about what was needed to be effective in the function than i am. is this hubris on my part? or crystallized intelligence? probably a little of both.
it was an executive communications role, and she put almost all of the focus on writing LinkedIn posts, which is not a strategy. it is a tactic … a valuable tactic, but effective exec comms is holistic and relies on video and audio as much as it does on the written word (people don’t read; they scroll).
Also, having done this particular work for decades at the highest levels of media, i have seen platforms and tactics go in and out of favor. email, town halls, blogs … facebook, twitter, substack, Instagram, linked in, podcasts. they all have their rise and their fall and the platform dujour. you really have to instead start with the audience and reverse engineer from where they are, what their mindset is, and what other messages they are receiving daily and how you can show up and surround them with your message.
alas, the newly hired comms exec with little experience in multiplatform communications, who thinks the job and function is all about writing emails and LinkedIn posts, shares neither my philosophy nor approach. so it is better i didn’t get the job, as i would have been perpetually frustrated. still, it stings … knowing a panel of 6 strangers met me, heard what i had to say and decided, NOPE.
the same evening, i felt profoundly rejected by my two oldest children. I am not their birth mother. she died when they were very young (ages 5 and 3) and I came into their lives when they were 8 and 6. they are teenagers now, and they are also older siblings to the one biological daughter I had with their Dad.
we were out to dinner and the topic of a family wedding came up. my younger brother is getting married tomorrow and we are all traveling three hours to the wedding and staying overnight. my teenagers began comparing the upcoming wedding to their biological cousin’s wedding in 2016 when they were 11 and 9. they remarked on how much fun that wedding was, and that they wished their biological cousin could attend the wedding this weekend (they did not say “instead” of my niece and nephew, but it felt implied). In other words, they prefer their biological family to my family. then they began musing on how much they miss California (where their mom’s family lives).
i am highly reactive and was triggered by all of this. but i didn’t interject in the moment. i silently absorbed what felt like an attack and festered and ruminated. i couldn’t sleep. my mind was spinning about how painful it is to be a parent and not feel my love reciprocated. being a parent requires loving your children unconditionally. when i was a child, i felt i needed to achieve to be seen, and needed to stifle my own needs and emotions in order to make space for and to placate my parents’ anxiety and depression. i am in a safe place now. i don’t need to suppress myself, and i can stand up for myself when i feel hurt.
today, in large part because of the somatic therapy experience i had earlier in the week (a post for another day ..), i chose to talk about my feelings and experience and tell my husband why i was hurt. he listened to me, and also offered other perspectives. it was a relief just to let it all out. sometimes it feels like no one understands how hard it is to be a stepmom in a blended family. come to think of it is should probably find some others to speak to. for the longest time, i pretended i was not a stepmom. because my kids’ mother died of cancer and i took them into my heart i wanted to convince myself that i was a “real” mom. but denial does not eliminate the truth. my teens have special emotional needs and will always grieve the loss of their mother and mourn her absence in their lives. it is natural, and it does not mean they love me any less.
after talking through my emotions while taking a walk with my husband this morning, i feel a lot better. the “sting” i felt yesterday has dissolved a bit. i am a highly reactive person. i am tender and there are many good reasons for this. i am learning how to regulate my reactions and choose a healthier path. let go and let goddess. and in my heart i believe that rejection is cosmic redirection.