Despite the Risk of Rejection
For people dealing with the challenges of mental illness, reaching out to someone can be scary. Not only does it hold the usual fears we have of being rejected, but it also makes us feel somewhat deceitful. We are not disclosing that we have a mental illness, or, if we are, we might not be explaining clearly how our mental illness affects us.
A few years back, when I started an online search for a male friend, I did not put down in my profile the fact that I had a mental illness. I did not feel that it was an appropriate way to start a friendship. I felt that the best way to start was to describe myself as honestly as I could while not giving myself any labels. Telling someone your diagnosis can be disconcerting for them as they might not know much about the illness or be misinformed about it; this lack of knowledge can cause them to create a false impression of you.
The men that I responded to were the ones whose profiles sounded genuine. I was seeking someone intelligent, sensitive and sincere. I communicated with a few men but had no luck. These men wanted what I could not give and wanted me to be someone I was not. My feelings were hurt but I knew they were not meant for me.
I wanted a friend and convinced myself that that was all I really wanted. Little did I know that I in truth was wanting someone to love and be loved by in return.
There was one man who I responded to that stood out from the rest. He was intelligent and honest in his description of himself and what he was looking for in a relationship. I wrote to him and he answered me with kindness and interest. I was very surprised because he seemed like someone out of my league.
We continued our correspondence and I have to admit here that I was a bit challenging in how I communicated due to my insecurities. He maintained communication with me, however, despite this and also despite the fact that I blurted out that I had schizophrenia. I don’t know why it came out in this manner, but it did. What I learned from this was that he was a true gentleman in that he did not disappear from me. In fact, he knew of the illness for his mother had suffered from it as well.
For two years we wrote to each other but there were long gaps in between due to me not being secure in myself that I would be liked, accepted and loved. He was a good man in that he did not give up on me altogether. Over time we became closer and I shared with him why I was reluctant to meet with him. But my explanations did not put him off and eventually we met in person.
I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to leave the virtual world and engage with this man in real life. Not that our writings to each other were false, but until you meet with someone in person, there remains doubts and fears and all sorts of imaginary ideas. When we met we could put these to rest.
I see now that the difficulties I caused this man in getting to know me were due to my fears of not being loved. I tried to sabotage the relationship so that it would end and confirm my belief that I was unworthy of love. He stood by me, however, and over time we came to understand that we are both worthy of love, and that we both have a great deal of love to share with each other.
I cherish the love and friendship I have with this man. I will not retreat back into my cocoon of insecurities. The key to finding love is in accepting the risk of rejection. When searching for that special someone, take rejection as being a part of the sorting process and that not everyone will be interested in knowing who you are. Do not be angry or mean-spirited as that is not the way of being a loving person. Be kind and gracious in all that you do and eventually you will find someone with whom to share friendship, love and companionship.
Pullout: “Be kind and gracious in all that you do and eventually you will find someone with whom to share friendship, love and companionship.”