Treating the Wounds of Rejection and Abandonment
We are made for community. We are created for connection. Our brains release positive-feedback chemicals when we experience connection. Our ancestors would not have survived hunting and foraging in the wilderness by themselves. It is hardwired into us as human persons made “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26).
That’s why the wounds of rejection and abandonment can be so hard to overcome. We can be rejected in various areas of our lives: in our work, our family, our ideas, and our dreams. It can lead us down the path of overanalyzing our faults and proving our brokenness. Abandonment and rejection wounds tell us flat out: “This innate need that you have, that you crave, is not going to be met.” So, we search for answers by asking, “What can I do to make myself more loveable and fix what is broken in me?” This, of course, leads to shame. The shame tells us something is broken in us and unworthy of love and needs to be fixed, and if not fixed, then hidden. Inevitably, it’s not only the flaws that become hidden, but the whole person. Shame imposes a self-rejection and self-imposed exile that robs the individual of disproving the thought that, “I am inherently bad.” But unlike guilt, where we can make reparation for our faults, we cannot “fix” shame because it is based on lies.
During these moments, we must acknowledge how we are wounded without trying to move on and dismiss the gravity of the pain. Instead, we give ourselves permission to feel it, and allow it to motivate us to engage others to heal and return to a sense of belonging. If we are people of faith, we need to be grounded in our relationship with God, where we are unconditionally accepted and loved. We need to trust that we will be embraced as the Prodigal Son despite our mistakes and imperfections. At times like these, we need to dare to be vulnerable and lean into the relationships that nourish us and remind us that we are ok. As we do this, we gradually begin to believe the truth over the lies. Being created for connection doesn’t have to be an unmet longing. We can let that desire within lead us to authentic relationship.