Dealing With the Humiliation of Being Rejected

The day Bob left our marriage, I could not shake the feeling that I had failed. By moving out of the house, he had made our breakup painfully public. I felt like a loser. It took every ounce of my energy to face the world, and I made pains to put on makeup, curl my hair, and wear a cute outfit before leaving the house. I might have felt like a reject on the inside, but I wanted to go out in public looking like a winner. It was a matter of pride. But I wasn't a celebrity, and no photographers or reporters were hanging outside my door waiting to take a snapshot of me or ask awkward questions.

This is not the case with Sandra Bullock. One moment she was on top of the world both professionally and in her private life, and the next she learned that her marriage was a sham. I was never one of the Jesse James haters. Oh, I wondered what she saw in him at first, and then I watched 'The Apprentice'. I learned to admire the way Jesse held himself back during volatile situations and how he treated the other celebrities with dignity and respect. I began to see what Sandra saw in him. And when she publicly declared how hot he was and how much she loved him during her award speeches, I rejoiced in her happiness. She seemed like a decent person, and she has entertained me in films that I liked, and so I felt kindly towards her. I loved that she kept donating a million here and there after major disasters, most recently the Haiti earthquake, and this told me she had a good heart.

But now she is in hiding and grieving over the loss of her innocence and trust in her husband. We - you and I - can imagine exactly how she felt when she learned the awful truth about her husband: feeling the blood instantly drain from your head, the cold-sinking sensation that you are not dreaming; the tight knot in your chest; the disbelief that your best friend and partner is betraying you; the awful, unbearable pain that seeps through every pore of your body. And then, when you can breathe and think again, the relentless feeling of failure and humiliation.

But in Sandra Bullock's case her heartache is being played out in public. She literally can not hide in a crowd, as I did and as you can. Everywhere she goes, strangers KNOW about Jesse's actions and the news keeps getting worse. We no longer know rumor from fact. The truth is that Jesse put his wife, an intensely private person, in this situation by his willful actions, and the only choice he has given this brave, talented, supremely successful person is that she must go into hiding. Can you imagine how doubly humiliated she must feel - to be forced to hide so she can grieve in private?

During the worst part of my separation from Bob, I could still find some relief by losing myself in crowds, or dinner out, or during long strolls in the park. Sandra has lost everything - the man that she thought she knew, the children that she treated as her own, and the privacy that she fought for so long to keep.

This article by Lisa Firestone from the Huffington Post, The "Poor Sandra" Syndrome - Overcoming the Pain of Breakups, Affairs, and Public Rejection, has good advice for Sandra and for any person going through the humiliation of betrayal or rejection. Here are some excerpts:

"...the climate of any break-up or betrayal becomes a breeding ground for an emotion that, when examined more closely, is a bit surprising: humiliation. When you exacerbate this with the public exposure of a very private matter, one can only imagine the shame and self-criticisms that would ensue.

But why do people who have been hurt or rejected take this on as a reflection on themselves? In my 25 years as a therapist, I have often observed what my father, psychologist and theorist Dr. Robert W. Firestone, refers to as the "critical inner voice" to be the chief culprit in making break ups and affairs a matter of humiliation."
"the betrayed partner is the one who is traumatized and can't imagine how he or she will ever become whole again." This is how most people feel when they are cheated on or walked out on: traumatized. This trauma often throws them back into a defended state that, although painful, also feels familiar. They may experience feelings they felt early in life such as: they are not loveable, they are a failure, they have lost people's respect or they can't survive without being taken care of by the person they once trusted."
The article ends with the words: "No one should be critical of themselves because they took a chance on love."

I will go one step further and state: Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a wounded friend. Write nice notes to yourself, and in a journal list all your good traits and the sweet and special things you have done for others. Treat yourself to something special, like a pedicure, after you have faced another hurdle successfully. Relish the love of your family and friends, and surround yourself only with positive people. Know that you have nothing to be ashamed of for having taken a "chance on love."