The Sweet Side Of Rejection.
He was the one who approached me first.
He was also much younger than me. I prefer to date older men, as I do have this prejudice that they know more and often have better manners.
My choices for men to date are much like how author Augusten Burroughs of Running with Scissors fame said he chose a psychologist, “I want a shrink who has had their arm ripped off in the war.” I prefer to date men who have had the romantic equivalent of that. Typically that does not come in a younger personage.
I want what every straight woman wants: a man who is interested and interesting. I also don’t date younger because I don’t want to be a novelty, “Oh, she’s that older woman I tried out.”
When this new suitor came into my life, I had a feeling that opinion on all this was about to change. I wasn’t sure if our initial meeting was a date or just getting coffee. Truth be told, I often don’t know when I’m really on a date. Is dinner a date when you meet up somewhere? Is hanging out dating? Our date lasted about four hours.
I was really enjoying listening to him, but in hindsight, I have to admit that my body felt very confused. My stomach hurt a little. I felt like I was on a tilt-a-whirl. Now I know, in looking back, that my body was trying to tell me something.
Eventually I figured out that our hanging out was real dating, although it was brief. The goodbye hugs became kisses, and so on. My “Hmm, I’m not sure” became “Wow, I think I like this guy.” As fate would have it, the more I felt, the more he pulled away and the texts became less and less.
I tried to remain calm. I wanted to not care, but the whole thing made me sad. I wanted a real boyfriend. I wanted a man to put the phone down and look at me, and then… use that very same phone to call me for another date.
Maybe what I want is truly outdated. I would love to be picked up at my house, taken out for a nice dinner, given a white rose, and told I was beautiful. I will say, in this case he did tell me I was beautiful, but… the fact that he went away made me wonder if that was just a lie.
I will declare that I am completely comfortable with my age. I’m 45 years old. I have grey hair. I don’t put a lot of energy into looking younger. Despite the occasional winged eyeliner, I’m pretty much wash-and-go.
Sometimes people come into your life to show you what you do and don’t want, and what you still need to learn. Perhaps a part of me needed to be healed. Maybe the nine-year-old within still had some work to do.
In the third grade, I had to do one of those climb-the-rope style fitness tests. Mr. B (I’ll leave his real name out of this) was my tough-as-nails gym teacher who happened to be a friend of my mother’s. I was about 5 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than the rest of the girls. I had a growth disorder and matured very early.
As I ran during this fitness test, Mr. B screamed out loud, “Look at that ugly girl in the Shaun Cassidy shirt.” It was 1975. I could take ugly from my contemporaries, but a real live adult whose career was all about the physical specimen, deemed me as ugly.
As if that wasn’t enough, when we got to the part of my test where we get weighed, he yelled out my weight to the entire class. I was 5′ 4″ and weighed about 133 lbs. How could I forget? Somehow a possible rejection of my body flooded my brain with memories of this experience.
I’ve had heartbreaks, disappointments and crushes before, but sometimes it’s really hard when you get closer to something seemingly great but for whatever reason it doesn’t work out. Maybe he met someone else… probably a younger someone else.
Maybe if I dyed my hair, worked out harder, wore hipper clothes, had tattoos or lied about my age… he would still be interested. Maybe if I played the game: held back more, wasn’t so Me right away, wasn’t free when he was free, I’d still have him. I think these thoughts. I know these are just thoughts like clouds rolling through a sky.
The sweetness of this rejection is knowing that my former younger self would have become even more obsessed, more withdrawn, and the recovery time would have been a lot longer. The awareness of what is true is more apparent to me, whereas before I would have denied his lack of interest.
I will also state that I completely respect his right to choose whomever he feels is right for him. I also acknowledge my own path, and a No can mean a Yes in the right direction.
Because I haven’t been that into my own love life, I thought I was immune. It’s kind of like getting a cold when you never ever get sick. Why the fuck am I so sick? Hey, I wasn’t the one who was initially interested. I read all that “He’s Just Not That Into Me” stuff. How can I not get it, and at this age?
Apparently I’m weak, and not strong enough for this experience. I failed the test. A stronger and less intense person would just be like, “Oh, it didn’t work out, that’s cool. I’m awesome, and I’m moving on.” I may never be that person. I’m a nervous, unhinged, magical, sentimental, scared, artistic, romantic, and caring human being.
I think passionate people may be some of the most prejudiced people. We live in a culture where being jaded, bored and not caring is the ultimate in coolness. If you like someone, don’t ask him/her out… no, wait at least 4-5 days. We are trained to be emotional minimalists. Caring is apparently too inconvenient for our modern lives.
What the womanizers, man-eaters and cheaters have to offer is that they give a lot of people a lot of lessons. If I hadn’t had this experience, I would not have known that the nine-year-old within still needs healing.
I am not validating the behavior, but why not get something good from the deep hurts of rejection, when that something can be a greater sense of self-love?
It’s spring now, and a good time for cleansing. I often see cobwebs I ignored all winter long. The same can be said of my inner self. This clarity can feel very harsh. Before he came in, I was perfectly fine, with nights on my own. But somehow, I was under a spell.
My sadness wasn’t just about being rejected by a particular person, but also the loss of the success of potentially being partnered and making it. I could have potentially experienced some serious societal validation that comes when one becomes coupled.
Now I am working on moving forward. I wallowed in it deeply for a few weeks, and then I gave myself a deadline. Once that day came along, I consciously stopped. It’s hard, awkward and difficult, but I’ve been here before.
I’ve always been a fan of underrated things, like the color navy blue, curly bangs, growing older ungracefully, vinyl records, black licorice, 70’s AM radio, etc. Now I’m going to have to add myself to that list, and keep being a fan of all that underrated stuff.