He’d broken my heart. I knew he was cheating. He was my first love, my first real relationship, my first…heartbreak. I felt so betrayed. I didn’t know whether I hated him or myself more for not seeing it, for not trusting my gut when every sign told me to dump his sorry ass. Instead, he dumped me!
When you put your whole heart into something, whether it’s a relationship, a business, or getting into that college of your dreams, getting rejected sucks…even for a Queen. It doesn’t matter if it’s boyfriends or business partners, if you put yourself fully out into the world, you will inevitably run into a heartbreak or two along the way.
What defines your character is how you deal with it.
The lessons you learn from one rejection can give you greater clarity on your boundaries and deepen your drive to love and succeed. Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I’m living, strutting, breathing, crowned proof of that, because now I’ve found my true soulmate. I would have never been ready for my marriage had I succeeded in my past relationships. My heartbreaks were totally worth it.
Let’s take a lesson in rejection from a queen.
Back in ye olden days (we’re talking 480 BCE old), Queen Artemisia I was rockin’ her rule on Halicarnassus. That’s a Greek city-state off the coast of modern-day Turkey. Trade was booming under her rule. She even personally commanded five naval ships in the battle of Artemisium.
Now that’s my kinda woman!
You may have seen this badass babe depicted in 300: Rise of an Empire by actress, Eva Green. (Even though the movie didn’t acknowledge that Artemisia was a Queen…which she was.)
History has praised for her courage and the respect that the Persian king, Xerxes, had for her. After she personally sank a whole ship herself Xerxes declared, “O Zeus, surely you have formed women out of man’s materials, and men out of woman’s.” Boom!
Yet, even the strongest of women can succumb to love. Queen Artemisia fell hard for a dude named Dardanus. Sadly, he didn’t reciprocate the feelings. Maybe he had commitment issues, or perhaps he just couldn’t handle her strength. But, don’t piss off a badass like Artemisia, she’ll gouge your eyes out. Literally. That’s exactly what she did. However, even though she got her revenge, it didn’t fulfill her. It didn’t heal the pain of being rejected by someone she loved. Brokenhearted, she ended up throwing herself off a cliff, killing herself. All that strength, power, fortitude lost over one guy. Lame.
The moral of the story: rejection sucks and revenge never works. In fact, it frequently backfires.
Break ups happen. People change. You want different things. The best you can do is part ways and and trust that God has something better in store for your future.
Nearly seven years later, I look back on that rejection and I want to wrap my arms around my twenty-two-year-old self. I’d stroke her hair and tell her to trust me, everything will turn out just fine. (And in a surprisingly short amount of time too!)
How to Deal with Rejection + Bounce Back with Sparkle
There will be moments, sweet one, when life will seem insurmountable; when your brilliant sparkle will dwindle, flicker, fade. The spark may be out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it back in record time too. Here’s how to deal with rejection…especially when it rocks your world.
No.1 – Sit in the Darkness
When you break a bone, the doctor will wrap it, cast it and immobilize it. When rejection strikes, take a note from your body. Emotions need time to heal too. Allow yourself to sit in the darkness and feel the pain. It’s going to suck for a while. But just like a broken bone, your heart too shall heal.
I sat in the darkness for a while and allowed myself to feel every sucky emotion. Sadness, anger, fear all flowed regularly for weeks as I processed why I’d been rejected, what I’d done wrong, what he’d done wrong. During that process I was growing.
No.2 – Figure out the Lesson
When you emerge through the pain of rejection, you will see all the lessons you’ve learned. We need stressors in our lives to make us grow.
That first failed relationship, as bitter as the break up was, taught me so much about my self worth and how I was so quick to give it away. It taught me to trust my instincts. (That women’s intuition is real, ladies!). I had let my boundaries slide and took him back after he’d kissed another girl (aka cheating, in my book) early on in our relationship. That one’s on me. His character proved constant. My gut told me he was lying to me, but I ignored that gnawing feeling telling me run away. Instead I tried to hold on tighter. I was so desperate to be loved by someone…anyone. Because at that time, I didn’t really love myself.
There was my lesson: Love myself enough to walk away.
When rejection rears her ugly head, ask yourself, “Did I do try best with the information I had at the time?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “HELL YES,” check in with yourself. Did you ignore certain signs early on of his character? Where did you miss information? Did you let your boundaries slide? Did you compromise your values in some way?
You can’t change his behavior or what he did. The only person you can fix is you. Use rejection as a tool to make yourself even better. All the things I learned from that first busted relationship—boundaries, love, self-worth, trust, insecurities, instincts— I would have never learned or appreciated as much had it succeeded.
Years later, when I entered into my relationship with Spike, my now hubby, I knew my self worth and my boundaries. We were both crystal clear on our values and expectations. In fact, we even sat down and hammered out the boundaries for our relationship – what “cheating” is, how to best deal with our insecurities, how best love each other, and what the consequences will be if one of us steps outside of those boundaries we built together. I never would have had the strength to do that with my partner had I been rejected from a relationship where I greyed the lines of my boundaries. We’re still learning, as couples, do along the way. But that conversation provided a solid, trusting foundation for us to build our life upon.
That first rejection truly helped me be the woman I am today: happy, whole, respected, fully loved, and free to be completely me, boundaries and all. Thanks Rejection for the lesson! I never could have done it without you.
Now you tell me, what lesson has rejection taught you?
P.S. This is a two parter on a topic I believe needs to be addressed when rejection strikes: forgiveness. So stay tuned for the follow up next week! And, if you know anyone who’s suffering from a break up, send this bit of healing love their way.