Just Shelley


Oh these little rejections how they add up quickly
One small sideways look and I feel so ungood
Somewhere along the way I think I gave you the power to make
Me feel the way I thought only my father could.

Alanis Morissette, “So Unsexy” from Under Rug Swept


Rejection. Being last picked for a side in a game of Red Rover. Not being invited to a party all your friends are attending. Calling or writing someone who’s too busy to respond. Running into an old lover who has forgotten your name.

Want to raise the level of pain? Telling someone you love them and they only want to be friends. Up the ante? Someone you love falls out of love, walks away, leaves.

Excuse me, is this your heart I’m stepping on?


Oh these little rejections how they seem so real to me
One forgotten birthday I’m all but cooked
How these little abandonments seem to sting so easily
I’m 13 again am I 13 for good?


Rejection hurts. It can reduce us to a primal urge to fold ourselves into a fetal ball, locked behind drawn curtains, chained doors. It can silence the eloquent, and strip away any hope or joy. Rejection maims but doesn’t kill cleanly. And the worst part of rejection is wondering what it is about ourselves that failed somehow. The endless question: what’s wrong with me?


I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind



My best friend in first grade telling me that Betty was now going to be her best friend, but I could be her second best friend.

Divorce and my Mom giving my brother to my Dad, and keeping me. The hurt and pain in my brother’s eyes; the hurt and pain in mine.

At 15, being dumped by my 27 year old lover at a party when he went into a bedroom with a brassy blonde with projectile boobs and ruby lips, leaving me surrounded by looks of pity and humor, all shy, gauche, soft curves, and sad gray/green eyes.

All those assholes who don’t hire us for the jobs we apply for. The unreturned calls, the unanswered emails, the hand left unshaken, the unlinked weblog.


Oh these little protections how they fail to serve me
One forgotten phone call and I’m deflated
Oh these little defenses how they fail to comfort me
Your hand pulling away and I’m devastated


There are a million stories of rejection in the naked world. Funny thing about rejection, though, is it’s also an act with two performers; we can’t experience rejection without being in a position of being rejected. As Alanis sings, Somewhere along the way I think I gave you the power to make me feel the way I thought only my father could.

Rejection ends when you pull the plug on the power.

You’re too busy to talk? Well, so am I. And sometime we’ll connect, or we won’t, but I won’t waste time worrying about it. Don’t want to hire me? Well, bud, that’s your loss. The party I’m not invited to isn’t a party worth attending, and yes, we can be just friends.

Remove the sense of failure and the rejection fades. Life happens.

But rejection can dig mighty big holes sometimes, and the deepest hole is the loss of love. Life is suddenly crowded with ghosts: the ghost making coffee, the ghost eating dinner, the ghost reading the book, caring for the kids, driving the car, laughing, talking, making love. You could find peace if only you weren’t surrounded by so many damn ghosts. And if only you understood why.

No easy answers. And no easy return when someone you love leaves you, but there is a return. You have to remember that the trip home takes one day at a time, with a little help from your friends. Meeting rejection with acceptance.


Oh these little projections how they keep springing from me
I jump my ship as I take it personally
Oh these little rejections how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me


To all the rejected in the world.

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