Why It Really Hurts To Be Discarded
Many of us have gone through situations where suddenly someone we were close to in a relationship no longer communicates with us at all. I'm not referring to a break after an argument to take space. I'm talking about the kind of situation where someone cuts you off entirely. Zero communication after an argument or disagreement. No contact, ever again! No doubt this hurts, but sometimes the pain of this can feel so intense you wonder if there's more going on here under the surface.
Of course, there is! What’s happening is that the current discard is triggering feelings from a childhood wound. In other words, this is a combination of present pain plus past pain that’s still unresolved. It’s not just the pain of the present discard, it's much deeper. That’s why it hurts so badly.
Now, that does not in any way excuse their behavior. But it’s important to notice how there might be more than one thing going on here.
In childhood, you might have experienced a wound around rejection or abandonment. Maybe you were raised by a narcissistic parent, an alcoholic, addict, workaholic, absent, or otherwise emotionally unavailable caretaker. The rejection could’ve been more overt forms of criticism, comparing, and shaming or it could’ve been more covert forms of silence, absence, and disinterest in you as a unique being.
If you grew up in one of these environments, abuse and neglect can feel like love and home. Your nervous system gets programmed like that when you grow up in it. We were wired to think abuse is normal. So when you’re getting abused or neglected, these feelings are normalized as life and love. Equally, "abuse" is a heavily weighted word. Parents rarely ever mean harm and frequently the child doesn't recognize the patterns consciously. It's not to be angry or upset at parents either as they were doing the best they probably could. The point is only in recognition that somewhere early on there was a wounding that took place that's unresolved.
In these cases, the pain of the discard hurts more than just the discard. The discard is reminding you of the pain you experienced when someone, during your developmental years, hurt you by rejecting you or abandoning you.
A parent who is not present with their child whether physically or emotionally, will create a sense of abandonment or rejection in the child. A parent who rejected your needs, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions of reality, programmed you to be extra sensitive to rejection in life. Often what happens is when you don’t conform to their expectations or meet their needs and whims, the parent will withdraw their love and/or not meet your basic needs. When you’re a child that’s utterly terrifying because you’re dependent on your adult caretakers for survival.
This is exactly what an abuser will do in adult relationships as well. Often they start with the Silent Treatment to try to modify your behavior with the threat of rejection when you don’t give them what they want, and if you maintain your boundaries and self-respect then they will flat-out discard you as if you never existed. Those experiences can trigger unresolved feelings from childhood when you felt rejected by a caretaker for expressing your needs. This is why, now as an adult when someone rejects you, it can literally feel like you’re going to die. That’s because your Inner Child is experiencing this feeling through the memories and perspective of a child who would die without the proper care of their parents. A child is totally dependent on their caretakers for survival. So the discard or rejection evokes survival fears. That can be terrifying, even when your adult mind knows that you’re not actually going to die as a result of the rejection.
Sometimes people get stuck on the discard for years and even decades. Our subconscious is actually seeking out similar experiences to heal our unresolved childhood traumas. This isn’t to blame anyone. It just is what it is. The awesome thing is, these patterns go away when we finally resolve the core issues.
So, if you’ve been discarded or rejected, what can you do about it now?
1. Recognize that the pain of a discard from an adult relationship is an opportunity to face the unresolved pain of your childhood.
As you work to resolve that childhood wound, you can move forward, liberated from it. As you liberate yourself from the past, you will stop repeating similar situations that cause similar pain.
How do you do this?
When I’m processing past stuff, first I let myself really feel it. This means you need to put aside distractions and give yourself time to just be present with what is coming up. That means, turning off your ringer and putting the phone down, closing the laptop, and giving yourself some alone time in a safe space to work through this so you can experience yourself and your feelings without editing or censoring yourself for fear of what others will think. This is your time.
Give yourself permission to explore these feelings in your body, mind, and spirit.
As you allow yourself to feel the pain, you can start to describe it to yourself. As you articulate and identify the pain with words, you already start to remove the power those feelings had over you. Instead of resisting the feelings, you welcome them like an old friend. They are indeed there to help you, even when it doesn’t feel like that.
After fully exploring the pain, we can process and release it. This is the grieving process. We first have to grieve the past so we can move forward without bringing the past pain with us. It doesn’t all go away overnight. It’s a process and it gets better and lighter with every layer you work through. You’ll notice how grieving comes in layers. Be patient with yourself and this process. Until we grieve the loss from our childhood, we will keep unconsciously seeking out familiar experiences that mirror it. This is what Freud called the Repetition Compulsion. It only leads to more abuse and more compounding of PTSD.
2. Uplevel your boundaries.
If you’re used to accepting abusive and neglectful treatment from people due to your childhood programming, you’re going to need to step up your boundaries so you stop entertaining that behavior from others. It can be too easy to fall into these patterns of familiarity and minimization.
You might notice that you tend to date people who are inconsistent or show a lack of interest in you once you express your need for independence, yet instead of being turned off by this behavior, you find yourself desperately begging them for their attention, affection, and time.
Stop chasing after someone who is not interested in supporting your needs.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every person who is inconsistent or not interested in you is a manipulator. They might just not be into you. Just like you might not be into someone else. Sometimes there are situations of unrequited love. That’s always a bummer. While it’s not abusive, it can trigger the same pain of rejection that reminds you of your childhood wound. When someone doesn’t accept you or doesn’t want you, that can make you feel like you don’t belong and that creates a deep emotional pain that you might even experience physically in your body.
You might also find yourself dating emotionally unavailable people or people who are otherwise unavailable due to work or another relationship that they’re hiding from you. You might find yourself in relationships with people who need a lot of personal space due to their own unresolved childhood issues, but since they don’t know how to talk about it, they just disappear for periods of time. This coming close then distancing dynamic can be very triggering if you’re coming from the childhood wounding of rejection or abandonment. And again, while a lot of these people might not be manipulators, their level of emotional immaturity can still trigger your unresolved feelings from childhood because the end result of you feeling rejected is still the same, even when the intention of the other person may be different. It is heartbreaking to love someone who distances themselves from you. That’s where we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize at what point we are participating in our own heartbreak by accepting relationships on these terms.
Setting boundaries around what works for you and what doesn’t in relationships and friendships is important so you don’t keep getting involved in painful and disappointing situations.
3. Rebuild your self-worth.
Your self-worth is one of the most important tools of immunity to abuse that you can have. Unfortunately, if you’ve been abused in adulthood and/or childhood, you likely have low self-worth. This means you need to focus on rebuilding this area of your life.
Self-worth is one of the pillars of recovery. It’s actually the very foundation because this is where it all starts.
Self-worth is about respecting and knowing your value.
Your self-worth is a measure of your value. You are the only one who determines this value, and when you have self-worth you don’t allow yourself to be defined by outside forces. When you have self-worth, you know what you’re worth and you don’t allow people in your life who treat you less than that. You define and protect your worth with your standards and boundaries. Without self-worth, you won’t maintain your boundaries, no matter how good of an idea they sounded at the time.
The opposite of self-worth will show up in shame and unworthiness. This is what can lead you to accept poor behavior in your relationships. Self-worth makes all the difference in your self-perception as well as your relationships and what you tolerate from people.
4. Discover where you belong.
This means first, stop hanging out with people where you don’t belong. What's with people who don’t respect you, who don’t value you, and who use, abuse, and manipulate you? When you feel rejected by someone else because they don’t accept you, they don’t care about you or they simply don’t want to spend time with you, stop looking to belong in those places.
Where do you belong?
Do you have that sense of belonging in your family or with your group of friends?
Do you have it through your work somehow?
I feel the biggest ways to feel you belong is to find a sense of belonging within yourself. Then you are able to feel accepted no matter where you are.
Think about something you’re passionate about. In what ways can you make a contribution to others by sharing your passion and wisdom? Explore that and you’ll create a new sense of belonging in your life.
To sum it up, as painful as it can be to work through our childhood wounding around rejection or abandonment, it’s very important. It will greatly improve the quality of your life and relationships. It will help you recognize and say no to similar new experiences. It will also stop you from projecting your past onto a new person. It will help you heal from the discard and protect yourself from having to go through something like that ever again.
Co-founder, creator, and leading expert in freeing others to awakn™ their unique gifts and step into their authentic self, Jenine's propriety method, based on healing the wounded child, guides you to reconnect with your child essence™, the Sacred You™, where all solutions reside.
An award-winning, international, best-selling author, skillful subconscious facilitator, and inner-child specialist, she continually embodies and demonstrates a simple truth...that anything is possible if you believe...even unicorns!