reject

In ALL, INTROSPECTION by Stephanie Klein38 Comments

I don’t know how old I was, but if I’d found the psychology book my father had been reading at the time, I’m sure I could tell you.  I was young enough that I was accustomed to baths with someone watching or showers with my parents.  One evening, after a day at the pool, when we all showered before dinner, I grabbed a towel and went to take a shower with my father.  He told me to get out.  I’m sure he didn’t use those words.  Maybe he said, "not a good idea."  I don’t remember those words.  The ones I remember:  "I read in a book that after this age, you really shouldn’t be showering with me."  It is my most painful memory. 

Of course he meant nothing by it.  Of course there comes a time.  Of course.  Of course.  All I knew was that I was no longer allowed.  I was rejected.  I felt small and alone.  I remember running into my room, throwing myself onto my bed, wailing into my pillows until my throat hurt.  My mother came in to soothe me, but it was no use.  I never showered with him again.

I don’t blame my father for any of this.  Our parents always do the best they can.  My father is my best friend. Knowing these things, revealing these memories helps me realize why rejection is so hurtful to me today.  I can tie the feelings back to as young as baths, but I cannot wash the feelings I experience off.  I can understand their strength, how I might be overly upset because of my fear of rejection, so I don’t necessarily have to act on those feelings, but I still have to live with them.  Otherwise, I’d spend my life running from them.  Avoiding.  Kicking everyone who could get close out before they could. But it’s work, not every day, but when the feelings rise up again, it’s work, the kind that leads to showering.

Comments

  1. Wow, you just reminded me of a similar memory I had completely repressed. It's not something I've thought of in years. But reading this post, I just flashed back to the day I walked into the bathroom to hang out with my naked father while he did his after-shower routine (something I regularly did), and he told me: "Lindsay, I think you're a little too old to come into the bathroom with me now." I walked out without saying a word, but the drop in my stomach was deafening. Until that moment, I had no idea it could be wrong to see my father naked. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Until that point, nakedness was just a body without clothes. Suddenly, it seemed dirty and wrong. Thank you for reminding me of such a small, but really significant point in my life!

  2. When it came time at my house to cease bathing communally, I rejoiced. There's nothing like a little privacy in the tub.

  3. That stuff really is hard…and I suppose it happens on both sides. I often think of how often I rejected the love of my parents when I was a snotty teenager and wonder if they still think about that. It just plain sucks that being part of a family pretty much guarantees that you'll hurt other people at some stage, strictly because things evolve.

  4. Stephanie, As if you weren't already a splendid writer already – it seems like you are hitting a stride. Your latest posts just really resonate with me. I admire you so much!!

  5. When I was growing up, I *never* saw my parents naked – and the bathroom – strictly off limits when occupied. However, now that the children and I are on our own, when I enter the bathroom, they deem it time that my attention is definitely capturable – and I hear the most amazing things sitting there on my 'throne'. Locking the bathroom door isn't an option at my house – I'd never know what the hell was going on with the family!

  6. what drek! I am so compelled that Ms. Klein has no humility, except the humility she feigns, that she can continually post these insipid, trite "observations" and insights.

    poor judith.

  7. Lindsay what is your email address? Dr Soap can wash away your trauma – at rea$onable rates of course ;-)

  8. He sounds like a very good father to me — communicating as best he can.

    Oddly enough, the worst childhood experience I had was not being thrashed mercilessly by my father (which happened a few times as an adolescent), but when my mother had a clump of overgrown grass, which I used to nest in, razed.

    I felt terrible about this — went running to my room to hide my sorrow. I felt like she'd had a family pet killed. I simply didn't know how to express my anger.

  9. Just for the record, this picture doesn't flatter you. You look like that annoying MTV host Kennedy. And that's not a good thing.

  10. My best friend and both of our fathers went to the town carnival one year when we were about 10. Up until that point whenever I went to the carnival my father would always go with me on the "scary rides". Well, this particular year my friend and I decided to go on a scary ride and as we were getting on line my dad asked if I wanted him to go with me. I told him that I was going with my friend and I would be ok. At 10 years old I thought nothing of it and got on the ride with my friend as our two dads watched. Just recently my mother recounted this story to me and said that my dad came home completely devestated; that night it was carnival rides I didn't need him for, the next years would only bring new things I would want to do independently. If only he could have seen into the future he may have thought differently, its 16 years later and I still haven't moved out of the house yet!!

  11. It resonates with me too, wait no, that's just my thai lunch! I think you touch two very important points about growing up. The first, is the transition we feel any time our parents treat us differently or change our routines. The second is of course, the inherent shame, for lack of a better word, we develop towards nudity. I think about what words might have went through your dad's head, the first time he forbid you to shower, inappropriate is just the conclusion, what are the words that drive that conclusion?

  12. Stephanie,

    Yes. That resonates with me, too.

    It's part of being human, of course, loving and being unintentionally hurt by the people we love. And loving them unconditionally, because they just don't understand.

    ~Kurt

  13. Its amazing how much power one comment can have so many years later, how it sticks with you and every now and then will jab at you.

    I've dealt with rejection from my mother for my entire life, but only now, at 23 have I managed to verbalise it. I realise that if I want to have any semblance of a normal life I have to deal with the fact that she doesn't care and stop hoping she might.

    Objectively, I'd never have expected a parent to cause me this much pain.

    I thought the idea of parents was that they love us no matter what as opposed to throwing thoughtless, painful comments our way at the most critical time of our lives.

  14. I don't get it. If your father had kept up the routine he may have traumatized you by bathing with you. Maybe he could have presented it in a better way, but I'm sure it can't be easy. Sometimes the truth hurts. However, I'm not sure you can tie all future rejections into your father somehow rejecting you or telling you that you were fat.

    Rejection hurts, irrespective of whether your father told you that you couldn't bath with him or not. It's going to hurt because you reveal a vulnerable desire of wanting towards someone and it is not returned. Unrequited feelings hurt. It makes you human. It's part of life. If you didn't feel anything, perhaps it would be more concerning. You can't blame your family for your everything.

  15. It's sad when things like this tend to scar and hurt us years after. I always look at chances to turn negatives into positives. Your father (and all you fathers out there) should've took the opportunity to be enthusiastic about your growth into a young adult. Instead of saying, "no, you can't, get out" etc, etc, he could have turned it into a very empowering moment for you without the rejection. All he had to do was say, "You know what? I think you can handle this on your own now. You're my little girl and today you're turning into a little woman." It would have made you embrace the chance to do this on your own and show him you could. He could have achieved the same goal and made you a stronger, more independent person at the same time. Missed opportunity. That's a shame.

  16. You made a very interesting metaphor with the rejection you experienced with that of showering and the incident itself. And avoiding is no way to live life.

  17. It's so very easy to understand what you feel. My father has almost stopped having any physical contact with me since I was 12 or so. I'm afraid a baby daughter turning into a girl was too much for him to manage.. I always thought he couldn't do anything wrong, you know he was my hero and I reacted the only way I could: no complaining, just understanding – I was so darn wise for a little girl..
    I never asked for a contact, never begged for cuddling. Not anymore. I know he did his best, he loves me and I deeply love him. And yes, "Knowing these things, revealing these memories helps me realize why rejection is so hurtful to me today." But it doesn't lift me up at all. It doesn't cancel the pain I feel in being abandoned or rejected in any way. And the thought that being rejected just means I'm not worth being hugged or loved or kept. It takes quite a lot to bridle all this and call my brain back from its vacation.

  18. When I read what you father said, I was kind of satisfied, in a way. My parents are just as blunt and honest to me, and I got used to not expecting them to offer me sympathy and sweetness just for the sake of getting them when I need them to feel better. In a way, I appreciated what they did for me, I think it made me stronger.

  19. Stephanie~

    I guess all of our parents deal out little hurts that they are blissfully unaware of, not realizing the implications that we feel and deal with from that point on. The absolute worst thing a parent can do is withhold information or communication from their children. It teaches unhealthy shame and fear and kicks us right into the world of lost innocence. I sit here, reading your blog and realize that at 44, I still hear the same "tapes" replaying over and over. Both parents are gone; yet the little random havocs they create still haunt my thoughts. I keep trying to repeat this mantra, "They did the best with what they knew." Sometimes it helps…not always. Thanks for your insights and posted musings and rants. It is the highlight of my day.

  20. I can't believe anyone would say anything bad about that picture of you. First of all, what gives someone the right to just cut into someone they probably don't know. Second of all that picture makes me short of breath it looks so good. Gorgeous!

  21. Eh, I'm not crazy about the picture either.

    Glad you don't blame your dad for this. The father-daughter relationship is a tricky one, and I'm sure rejecting you was the lasty thing he'd ever have wanted to do.

  22. Are all of these fawning posters planted here by you? "Oh Stephanie, everything you say resonates with me." "Oh Stephanie, that photo of you takes my breath away it's so good." Puke.

    I've read your archives, so I know that you starved & sweated the weight off your body, but obviously not out of your brain. You need to exorcise the fat from your memories. Why can't you live in the now and appreciate what is good about your life in the PRESENT instead of idling away your time in your childhood. Eventually, if you keep trying to convince people around you about the negative, they will start to believe you, and it will all become self-fulfilling.

  23. What the. Why, Im, do you read the musings of an introspective, reflective, and insightful person if you don't care for reflection and memories? There are certainly other places on the internet you can visit!
    Stephanie, you rock my face off and you are truly an inspiration.

  24. Hmmm… Memories "without fat", a character without padding…. Why does the anorexic ideal, the good machine, appeal to us?

  25. how much time do you spend writing and rewriting each blog? they all seem so rehearsed to me. that is a bad picture of you too.

  26. Just curious what age your father stopped bathing with you? My ex husband bathed with his daughter till she was 9. I thought that reeked of either pedophilia or a severe inability to say no but either way it was one strong reason for divorcing him. I never turned him in for it , though I felt I should, because she would wail and cry when he told her no like she really wanted to bathe with him. Truly bizarre situation. This was his biological daughter by the way, my step daughter.For all I know he's still bathing with her, he has custody… shudder

  27. Having recently lost sixty pounds, I was in the habit of NOT allowing people to see me naked. But since I've gotten in touch with my inner gym rat in order to achieve this weight loss, I've gotten more comfortable with my body. However, tonight, I felt a horrible pang of rejection while in the locker room when a guy acted as though I were inappropriate walking to the shower room without being wrapped in a towel. He said, "Could you cover yourself? You're NAKED." I said, "Yeah, and this is a locker room. Duh." It's a small town, rednecks everywhere; their sense of masculinity is fragile; they're threatened; it's oppressing. I'm proud that I stood up for myself, but it brought back so many shame issues for me. I was feeling very hurt. It was good to see your post. My god. Strange that you blogged about something like this. Who blogs about this? I'm so glad that you're fearless and delve deep within yourself and share your observations with the rest of us.

  28. My dad used to really hurt me as a teenager. I was an ugly duckling suffering from quite a bad case of acne. I remember this one family vacation, we we're camping out, and all of the sudden he said: 'Hey, if you pop out all your zits now, we can make pancakes!'. These sort of remarks were hilarious to him. So I got them all the time. (Which is weird, 'cause he had bad acne as a kid too). But after a while, I just stopped caring. He couldn't hurt me anymore. His opinion didn't matter to me. I knew back then already that he had the same relationship with his dad. We couldn't talk to each other, so we didn't say a word to each other for days straight. And it's part of the reason why I don't want any kids. I don't want to turn out a shitty parent. Anyway, I stopped caring, but a few years later I visited a friend's home and she was cuddling with her father, and saying he was her best friend. I just felt weird and empty inside. I can have a pretty normal conversation with my dad now that I've moved out and I am an adult (well, 22), but I don't love him. Sometimes the teasing turns into bullying. Your dad sounds like a pretty nice guy to me.

  29. Ignore Mike's comment. Your latest picture is beautiful and has lots of soul. I love it!

  30. Good post-

    There are no easy outs in growing up. There are no easy ways to say 'we cannot do this anymore', whether it's a parent saying no to the child, or the child saying no to the parents.

    There are also no easy outs with a fat child. You're caught between hurting their feelings by saying/implying that they should lose the weight, or enabling them by saying/implying that they are wonderful the way they are. You need a way to reject the fat without objecting the child. It's a fine line, and you're more than likely to get it wrong.

  31. Jennifer-I don't know what you were referring to by the 'good machine', but anorexic is not ideal, and anorexic does not appeal to most of us. As a matter of fact, I'd be interested in knowing if there are any guys/girls on this site that find anorexic appealing.

    What most people I know find appealing is normal weight, or something reasonably close to it.

  32. Only now am I understand the importance of physical contact with people I love. When I was younger, my parents were never allowed to hug me, or kiss me, or really even look at me. I was an angry, bitter little girl because my real dad didn't want me. It wasn't until I moved out that I realized how much more important it was that I had a new dad, one who loved me so much that he adopted me. It's important for me to show him that I love him to. I let him hug me, now.

  33. Not to be unvalidating, but . . . at least you had a father to reject you. Everything's relative I guess. Hang in there! Easing up on the sex posts for a while, I see. Not that you asked, but I like the glasses picture, (and have liked all the other pics, too.) You have a good artistic eye.

  34. Hi Joey

    The "good machine" is the ideal, slimmed down proletarian who is ready to grease himself up and follow, very efficiently, the orders of his or her higher ups, never allowing personal issues (or let's call it SOUL), get in the way of his or her pure objectivity.

    The "good machine" is the anorexic soul, an ideal in some quarters.

  35. I know were you are coming from Stephanie Honey growing up I never saw the need to where much or any clothes at home and my parents were pretty cool with it. Finally though after 25 years of lazing around in the nude they told me to get dressed and find a job. Boy was I hurt, and pretty f***ing annoyed too!

  36. I grew up in a neighborhood of all boys. I was the only girl my age nearby. They played football. I played football. They played army. I played army. They jumped off the roof. I jumped off the roof. They ran around all summer with their shirts off. I ran around all summer with my shirt off.

    But when I got to "that age" and the neighbors saw me riding down the street on the handlebars of some neighborhood boy, shirtless, in all my six-year-old-or-whatever-age glory, obviously my father decided that it was time, it had to stop.

    It was a similar feeling to what you describe. Not a rejection of myself, but of my body. That what I had needed to be covered up, but what they had was glorious – could be paraded around with no thought.

    And I was annoyed too, because I lived in Gulfport, Miss., and it was damn hot, and taking your shirt off felt good. And just from the damn unfortunate fact that I was born female I could not. It just wasn't fair. ;)

  37. Dear Stephanie,

    I´m living in Berlin, Germany but I happened to pop into your blog and now I am reading it constantly.
    Hopefully my english is good enough, so you can understand me…
    well, I want to add something to the topic of feeling insecure, within a relationship. I can understand very well, whats going on inside your head, because nothing you describe is unknown to me. What I want to say, is, that this deep rooted feelings of loss and being not able to stop thinking about, the partner you love, is going to leave you with an ex, or whoever, have to do with something, that happened long time ago. This experience of loss must have caused an emotional shock, or a pattern to our feelings. Like an old movie script, we always follow the role, we wrote for ourselves, long time ago…am I to complicated? Nevermind, all I want to say is, that it is possible to overcome this feelings and the old "script", but it needs a lot of work and self control and self-conciousness…we all know this, don´t we?
    I´m sure, you will overcome this very soon, you are such a strong personality.

    Thanks for insiring me in so many ways,

    yours,

    Elisandra

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