1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
1. the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.
1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
A dear friend recently shared her story of rejection as a means of healing her heart. Coming forth publicly and being honest to the people in her life allowed her to begin a personal revival of her life.
I thought about my own experiences in rejection that I have been scared to share for fear of retribution upon my family, me personally and judgement from others. And yet, as I hold onto my rejection story I continue to give it power. Current events in my life have exposed me for who I am. An avoider. Avoidance and healing are not the same thing despite temporarily feeling better.
I don’t expect that my story will resonate with you in a way that helps you personally heal from similar situations, and yet maybe it will. My selfish hope is that by sharing my story publicly will allow me to become more resilient and experience more healing as I move into the next chapter of my life personally and professionally.
I am an allopathic trained physical therapist who specializes in orthopedic pain conditions. I am married to an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon. Our partnership of support for each other has lasted through undergrad, grad school, medical school, residency, starting a business, merging a medical practice and most important, starting a family. We have a mutual desire to provide the most effective and safe treatment to our patients. In our desires to provide the best care for our patients, I focused my thesis project on optimizing recovery from orthopedic injury and surgery by using lifestyle medicine and natural supplementation to minimize the need and risks of pharmaceutical pain management. I focused on filling a need or a gap within allopathic health care that we noticed in the recovery process.
In my research to disprove the need for natural supplementation in healing I stumbled upon much evidence to support it’s use. Surprised, I tested this evidenced based supplement recipe in myself, husband, friends and patients while trying to incorporate other lifestyle factors like nutritious food, movement, sleep and connection. What I found was that patients responded to supplements with and without the lifestyle adjustments helping them heal better, faster and with minimal use of dangerous opioids and NSAIDs. Excited at the results, I took this recipe to my husband’s orthopedic practice in an effort to make them the best physician group in town. A group that we had both invested time, money and passion into. We considered this group of healthcare provider partners a part of our family. Also, selfishly, I wanted this supplement recipe available to myself and family should we ever need surgery. The group had the financial means and staff to make this supplement recipe available to many patients.
What happened next rocked my world.
The group didn’t say, “No thank you.” Nor did they ask for more evidential proof of effectiveness (this is what I expected within the allopathic health care community). The company’s board chose to implement a nepotism policy to prohibit myself or any other physician family members from ever working with or for the group in the future. At the same time, the company implemented a new, more severe, non-compete clause to prevent my husband from leaving the group. I was asked to sign specific paperwork related to the changes given my marital status to a partner. Stunned, I took the papers to my personal business attorney to understand what these documents really meant for me as a business owner and for our family. I felt personally attacked and that attempts were being made to prevent or limit myself and family professionally and personally. As I took the time to legally understand, the board then threatened to terminate my husband should I not immediately sign the paperwork.
To say I felt confused is incomplete. To say I felt scared is more of the truth as I feared for my husband’s job security. Confusion and fear are both appropriate descriptions of my feelings, but still incomplete.
I felt rejected by people I considered family.
Was I rejected because I was female? Was I rejected because the program scared them since it was so different from their medical education? Did they feel threatened somehow? What was in their past that made them respond this way? What did I do wrong? These questions will never have answers for me unfortunately. All I could do is listen to what their actions said. Stay out of this practice but your husband must stay in.
Now these events are not surprising to most business professionals nor legal representatives. However, it felt personal to me. We value our dedication to our family, our patients, and our work. To be met with such rejection was devastating. This is the part that doesn’t make sense to most people. Why should I (we) even care to have been rejected? It’s only business. It’s only a job.
Clearly, there is more rejection to my story that isn’t necessary to share. The point is that the faith and dedication I had to the very community of professionals that rejected me disrupted my equilibrium. It disrupted my sense of security in a system I had wholeheartedly believed in. One I wanted to share in success with. A system I wanted to be a part of to make better, if only due to my love and support of my husband.
We all have a default response to chaos. Chaos is defined as reality not meeting one’s expectation. My default response to chaos is avoidance. I ran from this rejection as if my life, my husband’s livelihood, and our family’s financial security depended on it.
Avoidance made me temporarily feel better. I didn’t have to confront the rejection in my favorite gym or at the barn riding horses. It worked until those associated to this rejection found me (even if only by chance) in the very places I was using to escape.
Close friends have said things like, “Don’t let it bother you. It’s their problem not yours.” “Forgive them because holding a grudge only hurts you.” “Let it go. It’s only business.” All sage advice and yet, I continued to avoid it.
For me, the rejection did bother me. There was no way around that. Forgiveness isn’t mine to give. And how do you give forgiveness to someone who wasn’t asking for it nor really needed to ask for it? I thought I was letting go with exercise and riding and not doing any of the things that spurred the rejection in the first place. But really, it was all avoidance, and it wasn’t working. My running away only got me so far before I couldn’t run away anymore. If you can’t avoid rejection then how do you accept it? How do you accept something that hurts?
I read a blog about how to reintegrate into a family when you have changed from the person you used to be either from childhood into adulthood or lifestyle choices like healthy living or religious choices or even marriage. The solution to accepting a new reality of rejected expectations is through….gratitude.
This was my shift in perspective to conquer my feelings of rejection with gratitude.
I started to consider how my life changed because of the rejection and what I was grateful for:
It’s funny how the gratitude just begins to multiply itself. It’s infectious even. If I hadn’t experienced this rejection, my new business venture would not have developed. The lesson of gratitude would have been missed until another time.
I don’t know where this gratitude will lead me. I do know that it seems to be helping me heal more than avoidance was. In order to support healing within us, we simply need to have the tools to support the process like nutrition, sleep, movement, connection and supplementation. In this case of rejection, the supplementation to optimize recovery is gratitude.
We all have rejection in our lives. One person’s rejection may not seem all that difficult to another. No matter the form of rejection or loss of expectations, practicing gratitude seems to optimize the healing process.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove fear of rejection.
Replace with a focus on gratitude for the lessons learned.
Restore optimal recovery.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Connect well. Supplement well…..with gratitude.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.