Possibly the worst thing about standing in the street right after midnight waiting for your Uber outside some douchnozzle’s apartment is how embarrassing it is. The worst thing about being treated like you don’t matter is that you clearly must agree.
It’s not that signing up to be treated poorly means I actually don’t matter. Everyone matters. It’s that I believe I don’t. The most embarrassing thing is to have failed to matter to myself.
There’s a huge difference between getting rejected and being humiliated. Rejection is simple, it’s okay. When someone rejects you they are saying you’re not what they want right now. Humiliation is someone saying you are not important. Rejection is saying “Don’t come over.” Humiliation is saying, “Come over,” and then treating someone poorly. It is someone saying they don’t want you, but they want you to want them because it makes them feel important.
To them, you are not a person with needs and feelings, but an object out of which they can extract affirmation. But affirmation from objects is hollow. How can a person feel good about a less-than-person seeking their approval? If the only people who don’t matter think you matter, you don’t.
It makes me think back to all the people I’ve rejected in big and small ways. The people who have not mattered to me, but who I’ve kept around to inflate my own ego. Whose affirmation I wanted, but whose needs I ignored or mocked. And I’m humiliated by that.
Ain’t nothing like getting knocked on your ass to increase the old empathy.
It just really drives home that while it’s inevitable that people will want things from me I can’t or don’t want to give, I have to tell them straight up and clearly. I can’t keep them around to boost my own feeling of importance. I can’t treat them poorly. Because I matter. And they matter. They are whole people who exist outside of what they can do for me, with their own needs and wants. And the biggest thing they need from me is to be recognized and respected as such.
Rejection is mandatory. Humiliation is unacceptable.
I’m so grateful to be surrounded by people who would never dream of humiliating someone. I’m grateful that I can learn how to treat people by the way my people treat me. And, occasionally, I learn how not to treat people. I guess I’m grateful for that too.