If there is one thing people with DID know, it is rejection. Indeed, rejection is at the heart of why we formed dissociative identity disorder. We desperately needed an adult to love and accept us, but instead, we were treated with anger and used as toys for their pleasure.
Rejection is a normal part of human life as not every relationship is fair and good for us and may end. We have all felt the sting of being fired from a job or parting from someone who didn’t wish to date us anymore.
Rejection trauma is different. It begins in childhood with maltreatment and haunts us in adulthood. What is rejection trauma? What are its symptoms? Who is affected by rejection trauma? This piece will seek to answer these questions and more.
What is Rejection Trauma?
The word rejection comes from the Latin word meaning to throwback. Rejection is a judgment of worthiness, deciding that something or someone is not worth any value. Judgment happens first and is pursued by the opinion that something or someone is not worth the price and isn’t significant.
Unfortunately, many of us grew to adulthood in homes where we were rejected, meaning we were considered worthless and not worth our parent’s time. Perhaps the rejection was blatant, with our parents telling us we were worthless and treating us with disdain. Or maybe the rejection was more brutal to see when our parents gave us what we needed, but with no compassion or loving.
The result of having no support or someone to believe in us is that we grow up full of fear of rejection, and it infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Rejection from childhood affects our adult relationships with our friends, intimate bonds, and professional lives.
Those with rejection trauma often feel unsure of themselves, which leaves us afraid to use our voice responding instead with a freeze/fawn response.
When Does Rejection Trauma Happen?
Fear of rejection is caused by complex post-traumatic stress disorder that began in childhood. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that forms when children are abused or otherwise traumatized during their formative years.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a response to chronic traumatization that occurs for months or even years, including emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. The sense of being in an inescapable position and unable to meet their basic needs break down children’s psyche, affecting the survivor’s sense of self.
The brains of these lost and hurting children are still developing, and they are learning who they are as individuals and understanding the world about them. Severe trauma interrupts a child’s natural course of psychological and neurological development.
There can be no crueler maltreatment of a child than to reject them, robbing them of their feelings of safety and worthwhileness.
How to Tell If You Experienced Rejection Trauma
The last person to recognize trauma experience is ourselves, as we have worked hard down through the years to accept or forget what happened to us as children. However, we must see the rejection in our past and find ways to help ourselves heal.
At least five signs show we experienced rejection trauma as a child.
We have negative thoughts about what others are saying or thinking. Automatic thoughts, things we immediately say to ourselves, tell us a lot about our upbringing. Perhaps you meet a new coworker or potential partner, and you immediately question why that person would even bother with you. Negative assumptions about other people come directly from how you were treated as a child. Rejection in childhood is affecting you.
Avoidance. Childhood rejection can affect adult relationships by making it virtually impossible to accept others and open up to them. You may avoid close relationships to protect yourself from more rejection. This fear of allowing others keeps us feeling rejected without even giving the other person a chance to know us.
People-pleasing. To get more recognition and acceptance when we were children, we often went beyond the call of duty of taking care of our parents. We tried to please them in many ways, but it didn’t change the outcome. Rejection trauma involved not only parents, as it is likely that you experienced rejection from your peers as well. It is easy to see how these people-pleasing tendencies carried into our adult lives.
Trust issues. Our parents, having rejected us, caused us to form an avoidant personality where we reject others before they can reject us. As adults, we have trouble sharing our feelings with others and avoid uncomfortable feelings brought on by interacting with others.
Not feeling good enough. Rejection trauma in childhood leads to low self-esteem and self-doubt, leading to difficulty remaining in secure relationships. We often feel not good enough because our parents rejected us.
All our symptoms can do something so devastating as to kill our self-identity; we cannot accept ourselves. We live in a sewer of self-incrimination, believing we are not worth the skin we inhabit and rejecting people who could be the relationship we longed for.
Rejection is Good for Us
The rejection we experienced in childhood was not helpful. Indeed, that rejection harmed us in innumerable ways. However, rejection in adulthood aids us in changing ourselves for the better. Rejection is a stepping stone that leads to more success.
For instance, you have a project that you are doing for your employer. You work on the project not putting your whole thought and attention to detail, and upon presenting it to your CEO, it is rejected. Here, rejection by the CEO of your company can be taken two ways; it with devastate you, or it will encourage you to do better.
No one likes rejection, but how often do we set ourselves up for it? How often do we think badly about ourselves and expect others to accept us?
Bottom line, we sometimes bring rejection down upon ourselves by thinking badly about others’ reactions to us, and instead of looking for a solution in our actions, we blame them.
Ending Our Time Together
Rejection trauma occurs in childhood and is an offshoot of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. When children are severely maltreated via abuse or neglect, they often respond in the only way they know.
While it is not your fault that you were mistreated in childhood, the only one who can change your defeatist habits and beliefs is you.
“Then again, he supposed the healing process, in contrast to trauma, was gentle and slow… The soft closing of a door, rather than a slam. – John” J.R. Ward
“Sometimes, our home is where we find the deepest heartaches.” – Dana Arcuri