Rejection Through The Ages

Rejection always has been a hot button issue for me. It wounds more than anything could, twisting my heart like a dishrag and dripping all the dirty sudsy water right into my stomach, giving me a very queasy feeling. Oddly enough, I actually think rejection is one of the things that led me to having this blog, because I’ve trained myself to tell people all sorts of things about myself quickly in our relationship. I’d much rather them leave me early, rather than later, when it will hurt so much more.

What’s unfortunate is I have so many examples in my life of why I feel rejection so deeply. Here’s just a few.


Exhibit A:
When I was around 8 years old, I was invited over to a friend’s house to play. Not anyone I have mentioned on this blog mind you, and frankly I don’t even remember the girl’s name. But I do remember how thrilled I was because I had been wanting to become better friends with this girl for ages. When I got there, she informed me in no uncertain terms that I had been the 6th choice for the playdate, but no one else had been available.


Exhibit B:
When I was in high school, I had been very close with two girlfriends. You know where this is going, because rarely does a 3-girl-triangle ever work out. We became friends at the end of middle school and really became tight freshman and sophomore year of high school. I did have one other friend I would consider my “BFF” but, other than her, these girls were it for me. One evening in the beginning of junior year, they were supposed to come pick me up so we could drive around and end up at McDonald’s like everyone else in the area did, and they just never showed.

I called and called. I worried that they had been hurt in some drive-thru deep-fry accident. But no, they simply decided I wasn’t hot enough while they pursued a pair of soccer players on the varsity team. We never spoke again.

Until about 15 years later, when, now, I am back in touch with both of them via occasional email and Christmas cards, but we have skirted around that weirdness in high school. Who knows, they may even read my blog. If they do, I’d love to hear if there was another reason for what happened back then, because, not to sound melodramatic, it pretty much scarred me for life.

Imagine having your best friends, people you spend about half of your time with for two years suddenly pretending you don’t exist? Walking past you in the hall like they have never known you? When the week before you would have exchange about 6 notes in passing? That shit hurts, yo.


Exhibit C:
I had a boyfriend in college who I now facetiously call “The Liar.” Oh man, did he ever take me for a ride. I am mortified when I think back at the lines he fed me, the ways he manipulated, the girls he was seeing behind my back, and the overall way he fucked with my head for about 2 years.

We used to go out dancing in Daytona Beach, which was about an hour south of my college in Florida. He lived about 20 minutes south, so I would alway pick him up on my way down.

One night, I stopped to pick him up, and his roommates were all there, but he wasn’t. Supposedly. They “weren’t sure.” I could “try and knock.” Maybe “he is asleep.” So, I stood there, in utter humiliation, knocking at his bedroom door, fairly sure he was in there, hiding from me and they were all just having a big laugh at my expense. But I wanted him to come out so badly, I didn’t care. So I knocked more times than I should have, left, and cried the whole way home.

Ouch, it hurts even typing that.


And I know I’m not alone in these types of stories, we all have our battle scars (feel free to share them in the comments if you are up for it).

What has been wild for me is how these feelings of rejection can resurface through our children. Completely irrational and unexpected – but they jump and claw at you, because they are part of you.

Declan had a playdate this weekend. He was bouncing off the walls all day in anticipation and literally skipped up the walkway to his friends house. We knocked on the door and were giggling with each other.

And then there was no answer.

I knocked again. No answer. Checked the time. 2:30. OK, right time. I called their number. Voicemail.

So, I trotted Declan back to the car and we waited. And waited. I started to redirect him into something else just as fun, as he was so disappointed. I assured him that his friends must have just been hung up (as we later found out was the case) and that they would certainly set up another playdate and all would be fine.

As we were about to drive away, Declan asked me to knock – just one. more. time.

And so I did. And all I felt was humiliation as my knuckles scraped the wood.

This article has 57 comments

  1. Schmutzie

    I was rejected by two female friends in grade five. One day I came to school, and no one would talk to me. And mean no one. Not only were my two friends ignoring me, but everyone in our class had been instructed to do the same. It was humiliating. I was never more lonely, and that was the first time I ever contemplated suicide.

    It’s memories like this that me glad I’m a grownup.

  2. Mayberry

    Oh, that is so painful. I have a couple of really vivid memories like this. I’m glad it worked out OK with Declan’s playdate. I am afraid it is going to be harder living this again through our kids than it was for us the first time around.

  3. Hot Librarian

    Okay, yeah, lots of bad memories dredged up here. I am so sorry Declan had to deal with that heartbreak. I am not looking forward to having to hold my daughter’s hand through all the pitfalls of hurt feelings, etc.

  4. Crusty Office Girl

    Oh geeze, this post really hit the core of some of my sad memories of rejection. The BFF three-some got so bad, I remember spitting in one of their faces. I’ve also done the “knock on the door while the roomates watch” deal.

  5. villanovababy

    Wow… It’s so amazing to read things like this from other people. It doesn’t hurt less to know I’m not alone, but it is somewhat reassuring to know that people are assholes to everyone, not just me.

    I am in the same boat, and sometimes, even as an adult, I am highly suspicious that my friends don’t REALLY like me. I worry that they might say no to my evite because they just can’t bear to hang out with me. I’m sure it’s why I go completely overboard when I throw parties… Make the best food, work the hardest on all the details, try to be the prefect host…Oh yeah, I need therapy. 😉 Lots of it.

  6. Sizzle

    Ugh, rejection is so painful. What we experience as kids resurfaces as adults. At least for me it does! I honestly am floored you can even be in communication with those two former BFFs from high school after they ignored you like that. How cruel!

    I had something like that happen to me. The girl triangle never works out. I was the one who got hurt too.

  7. Autumn

    I actually got teary eyed when I read Declan asked you to knock again. I can so relate to rejection, I had a very similar experience in High school. Three friends and I ended up the odd one out. It was heart wrenching when I happened to open a note from one to the other and they were making fun of me. I think it’s part of the reason I don’t have close girl friends now. Sad that I’m still holding onto this baggage into my thirties. Some how I think it will be even worse to watch my son go through it.

  8. ie

    Thanks for writing about this, Aimee. Obviously you hit that “insta-knot” (good term, MB) button in a lot of us.

    I’m also glad I didn’t come here to comment and read everyone saying “oh just get over your cheap self”.

    I guess I haven’t buried all of those old rejection bones deep enough. Actually, maybe it’s time to dig them up, look at them for what they really are, and get rid of them once and for all. That would be a healing thing to do.

    And digging up a dinosaur-sized bone to examine, there were many times I would wait at the appointed time/place for Mom to come pick me up. That would sometimes be hours or, on occasion, never. I remember being petrified of leaving the spot because what if she came and I wasn’t there? I was so worried sick that something had happened to her, wouldn’t she have the same worries? No? Really? Oh.

  9. Noble Savage

    Great post.

    Rejection is tough. And I can imagine that it hurts much more to see your child go through it than to go through it yourself. I’m not looking forward to that with my own!

  10. Jon

    My wife keeps asking me if we should have more friends – and she wonders why I say I’m quite content with her being my only true friend…

    I don’t have time to deal with shit from people.

    I watch my kids play with the neighbors and the hell they have to go through because someone decides they don’t like them anymore – until my kids turn up with something they want.

    I guess I’m too cynical, but it doesn’t surprise me at all that people treat people that way, then later act like it never happened…

    Humanity is overrated!

  11. treesflowersbirds

    Well, I will just ditto everyone here. Ow ow ow. And yes, even at 40+ I still feel those edges of insecurity with my peers. I know it’s universal, but it just seems impossible not to feel it.

    Kids do dredge it all up again. Youngest is 11 and in 6th grade and is already feeling some social pressures as he faces moving on to jr high next year.

  12. sue

    I have a couple as well. When I was in grade school, I too had a pair of girlfriends and it was always someone’s turn to be on the “outs” with the group. It could happen on a whim… it seemed the one main girl was always in the group, but she alternated between the other two of us being her “BFF”.

    Also, and probably the most painful, was when I was a young adult and dating. I was seeing someone from another town and I would usually drive to see him on the weekends. I thought things were getting serious when I took a couple of my friends with me to meet him and (I thought) to introduce my friends to a couple of his friends. It wasn’t too long into the evening I found one of my friends sitting on my boyfriend’s lap and they were being quite “chummy”, if you get my drift. I actually left town and figured he could drive them all home… I was rather p.o.’d. I did eventually speak to that girlfriend again, but our friendship was never the same and I never trusted men quite the same again either until I met my husband.

    Wow… sorry for the long comment. Methinks you hit a nerve!

  13. Anonymous

    I’ve had times in my past when I’ve been deliberately rejected, but I also frequently feel like I’m being inadvertantly rejected. I’m a fairly quiet person, especially when I’m in a big group and I often feel like I’m being ignored by the people around me. For example, I went out to dinner with a group of friends and happened to end up at the corner of the table in the restaurant. I tried to enter into the conversation, but felt completely overlooked and alone most of the night.

  14. Rachel

    This broke my mommy heart. For past you, present you and for poof little Declan.
    My younger brother experienced this and it has damaged him, too. He’s slowly getting through it.. but the childhood scars remain.
    I hope that there was a good reason, an emergency or something and not just a selfish flaky mom behind it.
    Bless your heart.

  15. Karen

    Aww Aimee – hugs darling!

    You know, a really good friend helped me to understand where people are placed in our lives. It was a simple statement but made so much sense. I had a similar situation to you with some friends when I was about 14. Two girls I’d been really friendly with just got bitchy and rejected me and it really hurt. I tried to roll back in with them, but the more I did, the more they found it funny. Jeremy took me out for a meal one evening and said that you have to evaluate your friends. You have to take a step back and look at them and think whether they’ll be good for you or whether they’ll be bad and to decide if you should let them go off and do their thing and suffer the hurt of losing them, but know they’re wrong for you, or spend years and years of your life chasing them wasting that time when you could be pursuing relationships with people who really do care, or forming brand new relationships and putting energy in to that. He went on to say that in the future when you look back at those people, especially if you somehow reconnect with them, you often find the missing years are insignificant and they’ve usually had a less fulfilling life than you’ve had.

    It made sense to me and it helps me to put my feelings about old friendships into perspective.

  16. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    You all are seriously awesome.


  17. zipper

    great post. I’ll spare you my rejections stories, though.

  18. Lauren

    What a sweet post. We all have these stories, but it sure feels good to know we are not alone. Hugs to everyone.

  19. Mollyfa

    This absolutely happens to everyone. I used to be afraid to go to school, because I just didn’t know if I would be in or out that day. And I also know that it will happen to my children. What I have come to terms with, is that those experiences in fact, do not effect who I am. They are simply the stepping stones of life. And isn’t it wonderful that we can guide our children with words of true empathy and wisdom for when it is their turn to go through it. Learning to forgive, and learning to love yourself through it all is paramount, and I just hope my kids believe me when I say that “I know how they feel.”

  20. Kelly O

    People suck. The misanthrope in me is never surprised when people are assholes, but the optimist in me hopes that people (myself included) can be a better version of themselves, even if they slip sometimes.

  21. amy t sharp

    I would always be home for you guys! I wish I could host a PD! 🙂

  22. Builder Mama

    I think sometimes the rejection never ends, even when you’re 38 like me.

    Glad everything worked out with Dex’s playdate though. It’s hard explaining to them, we’ve had the same thing happen to us and Monkey Man was crushed beyond belief.

  23. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    I really do want to hug you all. Big big hugs and sloppy kisses.

  24. Karen

    Oh, the memories that I have repressed. There were times in elementary, middle and high school where I simply had NO friends. None. Not one person that I considered a ‘friend’. I was also terribly shy and awkward, so that didn’t help. Sigh. I still get depressed for no logical reason if I ‘think’ I’m being left out or ignored by friends (usually it’s all in my head). Those childhood scars are DEEP.

    I need some candy now.

  25. Kathy

    I think female rejection stings more than male rejection. I hated 7th-9th grade when girls seem to be at their cattiest. Three girl triangles are the worst.

  26. Scott Booker

    Growing up….I had the rejection from my dad. He was never around…and I really wanted to have a close relationship with him. He would make promises to spend time with me…and they never happened.

    As a child and teen…I never really felt the rejection.

    But now as an adult…I fear it so much…that the only friends I make are online. I dont try in the real world…because I am afraid that whomever it is that I am trying to be friends with will just dismiss me.

    I am pathetic. : ( WOW!! Hadn’t really thought about this till now.

  27. Mr Lady

    Ouch. Poor, poor Dec. I wish we were still there. He could SO have playdates with us~!

  28. Melissa

    Good god, it hurt me to read that, all of it, right now. Kids are cruel, but when Adults are cruel, that is unacceptable. And it must hurt like crazy when you have to shepherd your own kiddo through the same painful experiences. It just never stops, does it? The great thing is that Declan has a sensitive mommy who is wise enough to recognize these shitty experiences for what they are. He is going to be stronger because of you, you know?

  29. zenrain

    for some reason, i had to put on the pretty in pink soundtrack after reading this…it’s making me think of high school……

  30. MB

    Oh, man. This topic prompts insta-knot in my stomach…because I was on the receiving end AND, admittedly, I was an ass, at times. Teenagers are just brutal and I wish we knew why. I guess it’s that dog-eat-dog mentality that makes us all act like shitheads. If only I could save my little girl from it…ugh!

  31. Anonymous

    I’ve had my share of rejection throughout the years, some within the past few years.
    I just don’t understand people sometimes. If they don’t want to know you or get together, why play games and ignore you instead of just telling you to your face. I guess some people just don’t work that way.

    Diane C.

  32. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    zenrain… ohhh, I need to go put that on now too. bring on the dancing horses….

  33. Ashmystir


    I know what you mean. Not remembering a particular thing right now but experienced it the same.

    Kids can be cruel. Mean adults just suck and can go to hell. I treat people how I expect to be treated.

    Hubby is more sensitive than I am and very selective of the people he calls friends.

  34. Mary Beth

    My first day teaching, I got an 8th grade class. One of the kids hid in the closet – I was sure someone was in there but I couldn’t see him due to coats, packs, etc. I tried to ignore it but the rest of the class laughed their way through the period. It’s amazing I taught for 12 years – that was a trial by fire:)

    I don’t have kids (wonder why) but I would imagine that it must hurt so much more that you can’t fix it for him. Poor Declan – did you want to yell at the parent “There are phones, you know!” I’m sure there was a logical excuse but how much effort does it take to make a call? And you save a little boy such heartache.

  35. Sleeping Mommy

    I think you and I have similar reasons for why we blog and what we blog.

    I suffered rejection throughout my childhood. And developed an unhealthy fear of it early on to the point that I kept a distance from people to protect myself from any possibility of rejection.

  36. Dana J. Tuszke

    I hate rejection, too. I guess most people do. I can think of a few moments, but I think they still bother me so much I can’t talk about them. Isn’t it funny how that stuff still gets to us?

  37. Loralee Choate

    I think I’m going to curl up in a ball and cry now.

    I can’t even talk about the rejection in my life because it has been constant, deep and is usually spectacularly public and cruel.

    I think it is about 85% of the reason I walked away from professional opera. I couldn’t take the constant rejection and criticism that comes with it.

    And now?

    I realized a few days ago that my son is going through the same things at school that I did and it makes me want to die inside.

  38. Becky

    OMG I’m actually teary eyed! This brought up so many memories for me. It makes me so sad that any child has to go through this.

    When I was 7th grade, I had only two friends – so yes we were another 3-some. Well one day, Kristen called me and said “Wasn’t Gwyneth being a bitch today?” And I STUPIDLY said “OMG totally!” Well all the sudden Gwyneth picks up the other phone AT KRISTEN’s house and says “Becky you just failed the friend test!” and just like that I had no friends.
    I’m 36 and I still remember that day so vividly.

    So I’m there with ya girl. Virtual hug!!

    Luckily my 7 year old son hasn’t had to deal with this yet. When he does, I might have to kill the kid who makes him feel rejected.

  39. Lara

    the boy i was madly in crush with called one afternoon in middle school to ask me to be his girlfriend. i said yes, so excited, and then he told me that he would never want a girlfriend who was such a dork, and he and all his friends (who were listening) laughed at me before hanging up.

    and what i remember most is how my mom held me while i cried, because she’d been there in the living room to hear the whole conversation.

    i’m sorry for declan’s playdate, but i hope that things all work out and he forgets about it soon.

  40. EatPlayLove

    Probably one of my biggest fears of being a mom with 2 girls, how mean girls can be. My intent is to make them strong and compassionate, so hopefully they won’t have to deal with so much petty rejection (as I did) when growing up.

    I suppose with the replies, it’s just unavoidable.

    Have you thought about the computer-myspace/text age and how evil those privileges can be? How we faced rejection face to face, but now it’s cower behind a computer and fire away at anyone, at any cost. Scary.

    Reflecting on those experiences makes you appreciate those around you, that support you and give you love though, doesn’t it?

  41. Kaytabug

    ugh, you brought me to tears. Guess I relate to this post in a ton of ways.
    Rejection is HUGE for me.I’ll spare you the details. Just know you are not alone. My heart breaks into minuscule pieces when it happens to my boys.

  42. Sue at eLp

    Ditto, ditto, ditto with all the others. Sigh. On a lighter note, Apple Girl is now on my cube wall at work. She makes me smile and reminds me to make healthy decisions … although I just ate a KitKat bar!

  43. Lisa-tastrophies

    I wonder what ever happens to those who were the “meanies”. The ones who inflicted the damage on us. Does Karma ever come around and kick their ass like it does mine on a daily basis?
    Tracy Davis stood me up when I was in high school. He was popular and I wasn’t. He asked me to a “popular” party. My mom let me buy a new outfit for it. He never showed. I found out he did it as a joke and had taken Lauren O to the party as his real date.
    To this day, I hope some woman stands him up, but then would I get the bad karma back?

  44. Bryan

    As many times as I was rejected, I am terrified to think if I did the same thing to other people without knowing. Not being mean, but just being a space cadet not paying attention to the people around me.


  45. Amy

    Wow. That one hit a nerve. Poor Dec. Hopefully it gets righted quickly. I see that my boys don’t carry the rejection around with them the way I do. I’m not sure it’s a gender thing, but I hope they can get over it easier than I did.

    When I was a baby, my parents divorced. She was 19 when I was born and my dad was barely 21. My dad disappeared when I was 4 and didn’t resurface until my mom contacted him when I was 13. We had a very shakey relationship until after my boys were born when I was nearly 30. Now we are very close and can finally act like father and daughter. But I do miss never having had the chance to snuggle on his lap as a little girl and be “in love” with my daddy.

    As for friends, well, I share the friend triangle drama only mine took place about 2 years ago. We had a fun girls weekend planned at my family’s condo, only I and one of the women had an argument and instead of talking to me about it she and the other woman basically removed me from the equation. Luckily for me there was a fourth person there who thought the way every thing went down was very junior high and I got the short end of the stick.

    I’ve got a similar sleazy boyfriend story as well, only I drove all night from CO to CA to see him in college and we got there a few hours earlier than expected (4 am instead of 7 am) and he hadn’t had a chance to get the girl out of his bed before we arrived. Bummer.

  46. chloebear

    Wow. Good post. The most rejected I’ve ever felt was on one of my birthday’s. I can’t remember what age I was, but mom and dad had a party at the house for me — and no one showed, except the girl nextdoor who I’m sure went out of obligation rather than anything else. See – one of the most popular girls in school shared my birthday and the mom’s planned our party the same day – everyone went to her house. OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. Maybe that’s why I hate birthdays.
    But you grow up and you get over it. Examples such as the one above have literally hardened me. I put my best foot forward, extend my friendship to someone and if they reject me – oh well, I have better things to do. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do are good ones. I like being this way – it’s my defense mechanism and weeds the “bitches” out.

  47. Catherine

    I’m with Jon, I tend to be cynical about friends. Terrible, but true.

    Blogging has actually made me really optimistic. You and so many other good people out there feeling so much like I’ve felt! Thanks for sharing, Aimee. 🙂

  48. carrie

    Oh, honey . . .

  49. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    God, you all are so awesome for sharing your stories. I seriously will keep saying it forever, you rock.

    Thanks for letting me know I am now alone.

  50. Renaissance Woman

    Oh my…rejection is one of those life events that every person on the planet will experience and will never forget. My heart sank for your little boy…and I’m so glad that his friend did not intend to reject the play date. But thanks for sharing and reminding me to be gentle with my words and actions.

  51. Lisa

    Oh, dude. Obviously, I have rejection issues, too. Haha. Every time I feel like somebody’s rejecting me, I clear out. I don’t like overextending my welcome. I don’t remember specific instances (they were probably that traumatic, my brain just decided to block them out) but 5th and 6th grades were complete and utter hell. Most of it caused by the kids I called my friends. Luckily, the last two and a half years of high school were truly awesome, thanks to real friends.

  52. Alpha DogMa

    I still remember the bitch in grade 7 who invited every single girl in our year (about 30) to a sleep over, but not me. I was horrified. The next week though all I heard was the party girl’s mother made everyone go to bed at 9 and got them up at 7 and shuttle them to the ice rink so they could watch the birthday girl practice her figure skating routine.

    Almost nine years ago I went home for Christmas and ran into this girl (now woman) out shopping. She invited me out to dinner so I could give her the lowdown on the university program she was enrolling in (the same one I graduated from). I didn’t show up. I didn’t call. I stood her up.

    And damn. It felt good.

    Just today my son’s playdate cancelled at the very last minute. He’d had a very bad day at school and just wanted to go home — fair enough. But still I felt badly for my boys. Hence we spent an hour at the pool in lieu.

  53. Candy

    Aimee, I feel like I could have written that entire post…all the way down to you and your son sitting in the car wondering about the play date that didn’t happen.

    My kids have been disappointed by friends so many times that I am eaten alive by it. Mainly because it reminds me of the times when it happened to me.

    I guess we never really do get over these things do we?

  54. blogapotamus

    I have been on the shitty end of a 3 girl friendship twice. Of course, this lead me to think that maybe I was just inherently unlikable, but no, it just turned out that those 4 girls were pretty mean. It’s so bizarre, one day, you’re like the three amigos and the next, the other two are looking at you like something that crawled out of a drain.

    I listened to an interview on NPR the other day with Jodee Blanco, the bullying activist who wrote, “Please Stop Laughing At Me”and realized as I listened to her that a lot of the things that I perceive as being character flaws in myself (a kind of quick temper, an almost insane response against things I believe are unfair, a desperate need to be liked) have a lot to do with some of the humiliations I received at the hands of my peers when I was a kid. I’m not one of those people that’s going to blame everything that’s wrong with my life on something else without trying like hell to fix it myself, but it’s really obvious to me now why I do some of the things that I do.

  55. WiredMonkey

    I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, as well. I foolishly stopped hanging out with a few friends in 8th grade, after one of the “cool kids” advised me I’d never be “cool” as long as I was hanging out with them. It took two months for me to figure out that I may not be “cool” with them, but I was infinitely happier. And, luckily, these friends were pretty forgiving of my stupidity.

    I took plenty of heartache for being the creative, geeky soul that I am, as well. All through school, though most of it in elementary. I hope i can protect my son from much of it, but I know that really my role will be to empathize with him when he’s dealing with the cruel kids, and let him know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. One day he won’t have to deal with cruel children. Just cruel adults. 😛 I kid. Sort of.

  56. JennyMoose

    Oh Aimee I am so sorry to hear you have been through that. I have too. I thought it was a SP thing!
    Are those mean girls still here? I’m happy to go kick some ass for you if you want? Aunt Heidi and I will go bust some caps.

  57. Janet

    I got rejected this week…it never gets easier!

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