Within the last few months, I have started to listen to podcasts. Typically I listen to an audiobook while commuting and walking in order to occupy my mind so I do not think. I do not want to think of the world, my life, or my relationships. And yet I find it interesting to listen to different podcasts and recognize my life situations and find insight in their discussions. One podcast example is WorkLife with Adam Grant associated with TED talks.
I recently listened to “Bouncing Back from Rejection” and although the podcast focuses on the work environment, I recognized the emotion of rejection in my personal relationship with Sir. In the podcast, Adam Grant discusses rejection with 3 individuals: Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Emily Winter, and M. Night Shyamalan. This post will deal with Sarah Robb O’Hagan.
Sarah Robb O’Hagan, activist and entrepreneur spoke with Adam about being terminated from various companies. At first she blamed the company, then herself and finally the relationship with the company. Termination of employment translates into rejection by the group and results in feelings of worthlessness and incompetence. In terms of pain, when neuroscientists scan people’s brains, social rejection impacts the brain in similar ways to physical pain.
As I listened, I realized I also had experienced rejection due to Sir’s sudden announcement of another play partner. After blaming Sir, I primarily blamed myself and also wondered about my worth and competence in our relationship. In blaming myself, I felt powerless and despised my submission. It was who I was that was rejected: my devotion, my submission, and my being. Over time, these feelings have lessened but have not disappeared. When compounded with depression due to the pandemic, looking back I cannot discern if my feelings originated from the pandemic, my relationship with Sir or both.
In the case of employment termination, the recommendation is to blame a mismatch of the individual to the corporation. Although both Sir and I are accountable for our actions, it is perhaps a mismatch of the definition of our relationship that has resulted in my feelings of rejection. We have never agreed on what our relationship is in terms of power exchange structures but what we labeled it never really mattered. The label may not have been identical but our personal understanding of Us mattered greatly.
We knew how rare and special our friendship was and treasured it. We were not perfect for each other but we appeared willing to sacrifice some part of our needs for the relationship. All of these years as Sir’s submissive, the definition and parameters that described Us in my head were reinforced by his words and actions. Now I see past words and actions with a different perception of intent and cannot discern truth from fiction. If we had calmly sat down and discussed the situation and worked out a polyamory arrangement years ago, I believe the outcome would be different than it is in the present.
It is difficult to identify the cause of my various emotional states whether it is the pandemic, the loss of truth in our relationship or simply incompatibility. I have always believed in the polyamorous viewpoint that there is no Prince Charming-Cinderella relationship in reality. And yet over the many years Sir and I have been together, it was the truth and respect that allowed me to feel I could express the deepest parts of me – to be vulnerable with this one person in my entire life. I waited to be discarded and yet through all my mistakes, Sir stood by our relationship. Can I do the same for him? How do I do that?
The past is history and nothing can be done about the past but how to move forward past the feelings of rejection of myself and our relationship? Our relationship has changed as we changed over the years but that old definition of Us is gone no matter how much I might like to cling to it. A new understanding of our relationship must be built on the foundation of our friendship but I do not know what it will be or if it will be successful. How does one repair the cracks in friendship and trust? I do not know but I know I want it to work out. There has been many understandings of our relationship through the years and simultaneously a new understanding of myself. That is the exciting part. I want to see how this catalyst for change impacts who I am and my life.