A Few Thoughts On Rejection


For those of you who had the balls to go audition for Listen To Your Mother, you rock. To those of you who made it, congratulations.

To those of you who didn’t – hello, my sisters.

I have seen friends celebrate and I have seen friends react to not being chosen. Of course it’s natural to be upset. In addition to pouring our souls out through words, we then got up in front of others and *gasp* read those words aloud.

The challenge in being rejected is to not take it personally. But.. but… those are my words, you’re thinking! I READ THEM. HOW IS THIS NOT PERSONAL???

Think of it this way – you plan to sew a gorgeous quilt. You need fabric first, right? So you go to a local fabric store with hundreds of choices. You spend hours sorting through the fabric, comparing them to each other and analyzing the appearance of each scrap in the final design. You can’t possibly use every single scrap of fabric in the quilt and end up with the appearance you want, right?

That’s what the people in charge of LTYM are doing – they are creating a quilt of words and they can’t possibly use all the words they hear or read during the audition phase. So they are forced to make a final selection after browsing the most amazing “fabrics” they have to choose from. In doing so, they work to find pieces which fall into a specific pattern, pieces which will work together for the show they envision. So, you see, it isn’t about you at all. It’s all about their job to select the best pieces for the design they see before them.

I went into auditioning this year with the mindset that I wouldn’t be chosen. But if I did that, then why bother auditioning?

Because standing in front of people, reading words I wrote, scares the ever-loving crap out of me. It is beyond my comfort zone. I don’t even read my blog posts to myself after I write them if that gives you any indication of how much I dislike reading my words. I struggle to accept the compliment of “hey, you’re a really great writer!” to be completely honest.

I am genuinely happy for those who made it into LTYM shows this year. It is an honor to be chosen and it takes courage to get up in front of such large audiences and read personal stories. To those who with me in not being chosen – you are still just as awesome as you were the moment before you took a shaky deep breath and stepped inside that audition room (or connected via G+ Hangout or Skype). No one gets to tell you any different. It takes guts to do that and even more guts to cope with rejection.

Below is the piece I read on Sunday morning for my audition. I like it, they laughed, everyone who has read it has told me it rocks. But it just didn’t fit into the show for whatever reason. I’m okay with that because you know what? I’m writing way more this year than I was last year and with each audition, I’m getting better at it. Sure, it’s nice to have acknowledgements and acceptance from others but in reality the only opinion which matters of yourself is your own.

Enjoy reading my audition piece!

____________________________________

It’s a strange balance, this juxtaposition of womanhood and motherhood.

If we falter even the slightest, it’s as if someone yanked the worst possible Jenga block out of our intricately formed tower and we’re left hoping we’re as brilliant as Raymond Babbit, able to immediately calculate what’s fallen down as well as how to fix it.

As mothers, we are expected to heal everything, know everything, cook everything, be everything. I don’t know everything, I can’t heal everything, I am not everything, but I am able to cook almost everything. Except insects because that’s just gross.

When I was a little girl, I shoved stuffed animals under my shirt in the sunroom of our family cottage over on the Jersey Shore. I’d unceremoniously yank them out after a few minutes (which back then, felt like an eternity), giving birth to my “children.”

Stuffed animals made the best children in the world. They didn’t cry, they didn’t poop, they didn’t throw up….seriously. They were awesome. Plus, how on earth could you be sad whilst cuddling an adorable fuzzy teddy bear?

Fast forward about 20 years or so and there I was, in a hospital in rural South Carolina, about to give birth. It was a bit more complicated than yanking a stuffed animal from under my Mickey Mouse shirt – this time, I was screaming, pushing, and praying the epidural would magically start working on the side of my body engulfed in enough pain to convince me it was on fire.

Then, after 14 or so hours of labor, she arrived. In true Jersey Girl fashion, my oldest slid from the womb giving the doctor the finger on my behalf. I didn’t know what to do with her. She wasn’t soft and fuzzy. She was wet, naked, kicking, and screaming. The advice from the nurse about breastfeeding? Make sure you get the entire areola in her mouth – you know, the brown part. (Gee, thanks!)

I sought help at 12 weeks postpartum for depression only to be told “Hey! You don’t have PPD because at four weeks postpartum, your hormones slid magically back into place! But wait, there’s more…you’ve won a visit with our in-house therapist who will keep rescheduling!”

Swell.

We moved back to be closer to his family and I toughed it out without professional help. Then we got pregnant with our second.

Second time around saw me through over forty hours of labor. Delivery was fast once I pushed. But then, she was diagnosed with a cleft palate and I lost my mind. Medication at 10 days, hospitalization at 56 days, enlightenment shortly thereafter.

I didn’t have to suffer. I didn’t have to struggle. I had forgotten to mother the most important person in my life…me.

Self-care is not selfish, it is selfless. If you attempt to pour a glass of water from an empty pitcher, it is impossible. The same goes for self-care. If you attempt to care for others while not filling yourself, you will give nothing.

My third child was born after a quick and relatively simple labor. I didn’t have any issues after his birth as I did what I needed to in order to take care of myself first. I took care of my little guy and his sisters, but I managed my own well-being at the same time instead of just theirs.

I mothered all of us.

That, my friends, that is the key to mothering. It isn’t in balancing. It isn’t in being the Martha Stewart at the bake sale. It isn’t in knowing how to solve every single issue that may or may not crop up. It isn’t in being the Joneses on the street or even in being the Mom who lets her kid do whatever he or she wants.

The key to mothering is mothering EVERYONE in your family the best you can, yourself included. You are the nucleus of the family, the center of their worlds, and they are yours. Embrace this. Cherish this. Nourish this. In the process, however, remember to take impeccable care of yourself for without this important step, all of this may suddenly disappear into a dark vortex and suddenly, you won’t be in Kansas any more.

Remember Dorothy’s mantra? There’s no place like home. Only in real life, a mother’s ruby slippers are self-care and you absolutely must remember  to click them together….often.

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12 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts On Rejection

  1. Lauren,
    Thank you for this post. My piece was not chosen for Boston LTYM so I auditioned in North Jersey and was again not selected. I have been struggling the past few days. I have tried to be resilient and remember that there are many talented writers out there and my piece and I were simply not the right fit. But knowing this doesn’t keep the sad feelings away. Your post came at the right time. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping me deal with my disappointment.

    As for your essay, I enjoyed reading it and it only intrigues me to know more about you and your interesting experiences. Thanks for great advice about self care.

    • (hugs) I auditioned for North Jersey as well. It seems our sisterhood goes a bit deeper then! I’m glad my post helped you deal with your disappointment. There’s solidarity in sisterhood for a reason!

      -lauren

  2. Lauren, this piece is stunning. It needs to be heard. I love the image of Dorothy and her red slippers. The most difficult decision about the LTYM process is having to say no to amazing stories that just don’t fit the thread of the show.

    • I’m so glad you commented, Jen – I can’t even begin to imagine having to say no to amazing pieces that don’t fit the thread of the show. It is important to remember that there is a human side to this and it is not an easy decision to make.

  3. Lauren,
    Loved your post. Your piece at the end needs to find its audience. Well done. I suffered from postpartum for my first pregnancy. I would have for my second one, but instead I was hospitalized for two months, she stopped growing and was born by an emergency C-section. I nearly died having her, but at 3 1/2 pounds, she was fine. The Postpartum with my first pregnancy was pretty bad. I’m sure many will relate to your piece.

    • Thank you for such a wonderful comment and kind words about my piece at the end.

      I am glad your daughter was okay, but it sounds like you went through quite a bit to get her here. Sending lots of love and hugs to you.

      Warmest,
      Lauren

  4. Lauren,

    We’ve conversed on Twitter in the past. It’s been several years. I love what you are doing to bring awareness regarding PPD. That was the topic of our discussion on several occasions.

    Whether you are comfortable hearing it, or even thinking it, you are a heck of a writer. Not only did I enjoy this piece, I learned something from it. Thank you.

    They say that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. It would seem that your experiences have proven this to be the case.

    I’d me lying if I didn’t believe that you should have been chosen and I’m glad that you’ve moved out past rejection and shared them in other ways.

    Once in awhile I have “if only” moments. When I read some of your posts and tweets I sometimes think “if only we’d known this 20+ years ago.” Yet this is the cool thing about using our stories. They are timeless and have the power to bring healing to others.

    I’ve learned a thing or two…or maybe a half dozen or more from YOU. It has helped heal me…cause “toughing it out” leaves scars, too. I’m certain you are influencing many.

    Thanks for sharing this. All of it.

    • YES. Our stories are timeless. My first PPD experience will be 10 years old this spring (in just a month, actually… ACK). And yet, it still feels as if it were just last year. Of course, I am healed but I have reclaimed the power of the trauma and turned it into something positive which in turn, has helped a number of people, even if they haven’t struggled with PPD. Overall, it’s about deciding to take charge of life instead of letting life take charge of you. It’s a rough lesson, but a worthy one.

      I remember you and definitely miss chatting with you on Twitter. Take care of yourself, dear one, and I look forward to reconnecting!

      Warmest,
      Lauren

  5. Hello, my sister. I was among those who didn’t make it last year. Only last year nobody seemed to talk about it, so I felt my rejection silently. Or maybe I should say, alone. This year I did not audition, and I see so many amazing and articulate people being turned away. I get why, but it doesn’t make it sting any less, at least it didn’t for me at the time. And so, to you, my strong and inspiring friend, I thank you for sharing not just your reading, but your experience, too.

    • I blogged about my rejection last year but wasn’t as open about auditioning. This year I was very open about auditioning and well, that leads to being open about the results as well.

      I think it is important for those of us who are turned away to speak up about our experiences. Especially when others think (for whatever reason) that there are those who “should” make it, if you know what I mean. I’m sorry you went through rejection and went through it alone. I would have gladly suffered through it with you last year as well! (hugs)

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