Oh no! He hates it

I could not prevent my instinctive reaction as I read James Hollis reply to the question I finally felt brave enough to ask, “Did you read my book?” Although I had braced myself for his response, I could not help the body reaction that was created by his words. Once again my need to be seen and affirmed had triggered the child response. It was all so familiar. It seems that whenever I established a bond with someone in authority; I am rewarded by disappointment.. Much of  my adult life I had spent challenging and discarding authority figures; now I was trying to create more positive relationships; I feel let down
During my time at the Vancouver School of Theology, I had developed a positive relationship with Dr. Harry Maier who was one of the professors. He had been prepared to indulge my somewhat contradictory perspectives and seemed to be able to reflect positively on my unorthodox reflections. I was a non-Christian attending a Christian school of theology and it was very healing for me to receive a sense of affirmation for my views. I realized during the course that there must be some correlation between the positive feelings to Dr. Maier and his feedback and my father’s overt rejection of my beliefs. I sensed that this was a healing process for me yet one day the floor opened up and I found myself in the familiar maelstrom of rejection.
My term paper was sent back to me with the following comment, “I believe you have entirely written the paper you intended to write; unfortunately it is not the one I asked you for.” To be fair to Dr. Maier he tried to find some common ground but in the end I had no desire to write the paper that he wanted. I know I did more research on not writing the paper than it would have taken to write it however I felt he was stuck in a place of orthodoxy that could not give me the discretion that I needed. I felt good about the way I handled it; I had been reasonable and tried to be accommodating but in the end I did not resubmit the paper. And he failed me.
I was not prepared for how devastating I would find this rejection. I knew it was connected once again to being rejected by a father image. I was not able to shift sufficiently into my adult to tell him how I felt and I suppressed the part of me that needed to argue my case. I did ask him why he could not have given me an incomplete rather than fail. His response made me realize that for the grade to be changed would require a challenge to the dean, for which I was not prepared. Now I sat once again feeling the same sense of rejection as I read the words “Yes, I have, Trevor, and as good a book as it is, it is even better that one learns of the many permutations of the F complex, as you no doubt are.” I consoled myself that he had at least referred to it as good even though he obviously found it lightweight compared with the important stuff he wrote about. I sat for a moment allowing myself to experience this childlike reaction; appreciating once again the power of the complexes from my father that have shaped attitudes and feelings for much of my life. It was sometime later that I got the point. Like Captain Ahab searching for his Moby Dick, I had spent my life seeking affirmation from outside of myself. Real affirmation could only come from within me. The childish feelings of rejection were a hangover from days gone by. It was time to honour them and let them go.

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One Response to Oh no! He hates it

  1. Rita Dhahan says:

    I can appreciate what you have shared. Many of us do not work at healing what we have inherited from our pasts. It is painful and difficult work but unless we do it we remain victims in so many conscious and unconscious ways. It is hard to grow up and become fully responsible, mature human beings no longer needing outer affirmation and approval.
    thanks, Trevor, for sharing so openly and honestly!

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