I’m taking off my crown. For almost 50 years, I have lived under a curse. “We don’t like you.” “You are not a part of our family.” “Stay away.” “You are not welcome.” I have even had birthday cards returned to me. These words have pierced my heart and I have carried my burden. I was shackled by the chains of rejection. I wore the crown.
I had always wanted to be part of a family. Norman Rockwell paintings had it right. Mom, Dad, Grandma and a host of family members gathering around a beautifully browned turkey. My turkey never looked like that. That’s what I wanted – family and the turkey.
My family fell apart early in my life – father leaving at 10; mother dying when I was 15. While there were adults who kept a roof over my head, I was never emotionally attached to any of them. Probably self-protection from my fear of abandonment. I could no longer audition for the perfect Norman Rockwell family.
But wait, I had an extended family – aunts, uncles, and cousins. Maybe they could fill the empty chairs at the table? I tried really hard to fit in but never could meet their norms for acceptance. The “queen” of the clan, my aunt, demanded that all would cherish, love, obey, and pay homage to her. I did not fit in and so I was exiled. She told her family if I could not come to pay homage to her when she was alive, then she did not want me to visit her when she was dead. Her family complied with her wishes. She died and I was not notified. Shocked, I reached out to her son only to be told, “I never want to talk to you again.”
The crown of rejection was placed squarely upon my head.
Years went by and I bled from wearing that crown. I worked hard to create my extended family. I hosted, “CREATE-A-FAMILY” gatherings for holidays. I brought in those who had no family or could not get to their family. Maybe I thought they were like me and needed a family?
Recently, news came that a cousin had died. I really liked her. It’s time to take off my crown. I am going to pay my respects at her funeral. I hear a voice screaming in my ear, “They don’t like you. They do not want you there. They will be rude to you. They will tell you to leave. Why are you going to do this to yourself?”
I played out every possible negative scenario. My stress level was off the charts. Then the gentle small whisper inside of me said, “Go. This may be an opportunity.” Shouts come at me, “Yes, an opportunity to be rejected.”
I decide to go. My emotional stress has me bouncing for the 2 ½ hr. drive. I talk to myself. I continuously practice smiling until my face hurt. My spouse supports me. He takes on the role of Guido and is ready to defend me should the situation call for it.
We arrive. I hold my head high, smile, and have my shoulders back as I enter. I am greeted with open arms, tears, and a hug. WHAT? WHAT’S GOING ON? As I pay my respects, I talk to each of my rejecters. The scene played itself over and over. I am cautious. “Don’t get too comfortable. It’s not real.” But I chose not to listen to those lies. “Breathe. Just be present.”
I took off my crown that I had worn for so many years. I faced my accusers. I am wise enough to know that I can only change myself. I have no expectations other than my own actions and behaviors. I hang on to the parting words said by the same family member who had told me that he never wanted to see me again. “Let’s try and keep in better contact with each other.”
I am always one to try and find the pearls, the lessons in every experience. When my kids were growing up, they would roll their eyes when I would ask, “Now what did you learn about this experience?” I guess I still ask and they still do.
As I look back, I realize I was held hostage by the stronghold of rejection. I believed it. I was easy prey to fall into the web of deceit that Satan had wound for me. And I almost let it continue to keep me captive. I realize I really do have courage. I am strong. I faced my stronghold. I must listen to the gentle whispers.
I have put on a different crown – the crown of hope.