• Julie Ryan McGue posted a status
    Touched By Adoption More On Rejection & Some Advice About Coping In a recent article discussing Covid-19’s lingering effects on the brain, Siddhartha Nadkarni, MD, assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry at NYU Langone stated, “When the brain is injured it usually takes longer for those networks to get back online and recover.” In other words, the brain takes longer to heal than the rest of the body. When it comes to hurts of the heart – wounds due to loss and rejection - the heart forgives long before the mind forgets. That brain of ours … it’s a complicated organ. Besides memories, it holds on to physical injury and emotional suffering. All week I’ve had a Miranda Lambert song stuck in my head: there are all kinds of kinds… While Lambert’s tune isn’t about rejection per se, the line works. There are all kinds of rejections. Small hurts, medium-sized wrongs, and then there are the BIG ONES which tend to cause lingering damage. Small rejections or slights encompass a range of deeds. An unreturned email or phone call. A person who chooses not to greet you or forgets your name every time you’re introduced. These behaviors, while rude and disappointing, may be inadvertent or caused by other factors. Often these dings are eased with an apology or a good night’s sleep. Just like minor slights, moderate hurts – like sharing a confidence with a friend who chooses to put the secret in a group text – add to our armor of resiliency. While these negative incidents expose vulnerabilities and are demoralizing, we learn how to better handle the next time, and then we move on. The big rejections – losses and wounds that send us into a tailspin or counseling – are life altering. Discovering a spouse is having an affair. Divorce. A friend who for some unknown reason becomes an arch rival or enemy. A birthparent who refuses to acknowledge you. These predicaments don’t just cause us to lose sleep, they make us feel awful right down to our toes. Our wounded state can last for sustainable periods of time. We find it difficult to cope and to move on. We blame ourselves: I should have done xxx. I’m not good enough. We invent reasons why the hurt happened: it’s because I did xxx, because they know xxx about me, or because I’m not xxx… You know the drill. When my birth mother denied contact with me, I was devastated. Once the tears dried up, I was angry, and then the sadness returned. The yearning I had about learning where I had come from and why I was adopted, had evaporated. I was in a bad place. Beyond the compassion of family and friends, I sought professional advice. A social worker suggested my birth mother’s dismissal might be due to circumstances in her current life. She reminded me that just because I was ready to find my birth mom didn’t mean that she was ready to be found. Eventually, my birth mom did reach out. So, when my birth father rejected my contact, I reminded myself about the social worker’s advice. It worked. With his dismissal, I didn’t sink into self-pity. Because of what transpired with my birth mom, I hoped that someday he would change his mind, too. Lambert’s lyrics ring true. There all kinds of kind. All kinds of people who do all kinds of harm - whether on purpose or inadvertently – and, there is all kinds of advice on how to cope with rejection and loss. Here’s what experts agree on: 1) Acknowledge the pain and grieve the loss 2) Don’t blame yourself or take it personally 3) Strengthen your resiliency 4) Keep putting yourself out there 5) Seek professional help if the symptoms don’t lessen. “Ultimately, a combination of setting realistic expectations, accepting that rejection is a normal experience, and grieving the loss you feel when you’re rejected, will help you to cope more effectively with rejection.” – Sharon Martin, LCSW When it comes to coping with the effects of the pandemic on our bodies and psyche, time will tell. Until all the uncertainty plays out, I’ll be utilizing that list of coping strategies. And, I plan to augment it with a sprinkling of inspiring music, a relaxing daily meditation, an invigorating daily walk, and a nice chilled rose. Here’s to your health and well-being, dear readers.

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