I've Got Issues...And Peace


Boulder, Colorado,
October 22
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 21, 2009 2:00PM


Rate: 87 Flag

Rejection:  verb; dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one’s taste.

Rejection is a necessary and unavoidable part of being a human being.  Some would argue that rejection is good…it keeps our egos in check, keeps us humble, and helps us to become more compassionate and empathetic people.

But in the moment, let’s face it.  Rejection sucks.

I remember the various rejections in my life…the ones that still sting just a little when the images of them flash through my mind and bring me back in time to that moment…the moment when the face turned crimson red, the heart sank, and the self-doubts hung around like mosquitoes on a hot muggy day.

Why wasn’t I good enough?

Why wasn’t I smart enough?

Why didn’t people like me?

Back in the day, I was at a junior high school dance.  I watched from a distance as a boy repeatedly asked various girls to dance with him, only to be met with rejection over and over again.  After his last rebuff, I watched him go sit with his friends in dejection, his body slumped down in the chair, his bangs hanging over his eyes as he stared down at the wooden floor of the school gymnasium.

My heart ached for him and I couldn’t stand to see him in so much pain.  In a move, bold and rare for a skinny and scrawny 13-year-old girl, I approached him in that crowded sweaty prepubescent room.  I leaned down and said, “Would you like to dance?”

His head popped up and when he saw who was asking him, he laughed, no guffawed!  “HELL NO!” he shouted, as he poked his nearest buddy, and they both threw their heads back and laughed.

My face turned poker hot red, as I quickly turned away, spurned by the boy I had felt so much tenderness for only moments before.  The self-doubts rushed in:

Why wasn’t I good enough?

Why wasn’t I smart enough?  

Why didn't he like me? 

It was to be the beginning of many rejections from boys who didn’t find me wild enough, interesting enough, curvy enough. 

Years later, the rejection of my father still remains a permanent stain on this child’s heart.  I was his only daughter out of five to graduate from college.  I paid my own way because my parents didn’t see the reasoning in my getting a college degree.  After all, why bother?  I would only get married and a man would take care of me.

I approached my father in a move, bold and rare for one who didn’t see herself as important enough to have ever asked the question before.

“Dad, you know, I’m your only daughter to graduate from college.  Aren’t you proud of me?”

He was lost in a world of paperwork and business affairs.  His answer came back like an irritation…a distracted response to a silly question.

“Yes, Mary, I suppose it's good you graduated from college, but Joan’s the one that should have gone.  She’s the brilliant one.”

It was one of the more shaming moments of my life, and as I slinked quietly away, I thought to myself:

Why wasn’t I good enough?

Why wasn’t I smart enough?  

Why didn't he like me? 

Even more years later, after 18 years of marriage and four children, I loved my husband.  But in a story that is older than time itself, he found someone else…someone younger, prettier, and someone that made him happier.

Of course, the reasons people divorce are complicated and many, and I’ve yet to meet a divorced couple who agrees on why they got divorced; I was not a victim and it wasn’t that simple…I had much to own in the disintegration of my marriage, but at the time, all I could think was:

Why wasn’t I good enough?

Why wasn’t I pretty enough?

Why wasn’t I smart enough?

Five months ago, a reputable literary agent discovered my writing through Open Salon.  He thought I was a “terrific” writer and would I be willing to consider him as an agent?  Did I have a book in mind?

I spent hours and days, weekends and evenings writing a book proposal about my life transformations.  I sent it to him with great hope and expectations several weeks ago, and the waiting began.

I woke up early this morning to a gray and cold day.   Conspiring with the weather, an email from the agent arrived and there was no ray of sunshine to brighten up the dismal day.

My voice was strong but not strong enough.  The writing was good, but not good enough.  The humor was funny, but not funny enough.

Rejection hit me like an unexpected slap in the face.  And I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

Those familiar red-faced feelings came rushing back like an unexpected rush of wind on an otherwise calm day.  I could feel the familiar sense of warmth as it spread over my face.  I felt mortified, humiliated, like the child who gets their hand slapped as they reach for the cookies, just hot out of the oven.

But here is where the good news comes in.  Yes, the voices were there.  The voices that ask the perpetual questions…why wasn’t I good enough, smart enough?  But they were dim and faded.  I’m older and wiser.  I know that I’m not all that.  I knew it was a shot in the dark.  And the Rejection certainly didn’t nullify my value as a human being.

Tomorrow, I turn fifty-five.  FIFTY FRIGGIN FIVE!  How can that be?  I don’t feel like whatever turning fifty-five is supposed to feel like.   I am not my mother, the mother who at the same age had resigned herself to a life of quiet domesticity, wiling away the hours playing Solitaire while she waited for my father to finish working so he could take her away from the boredom of an uneventful life.

Tomorrow, I board a plane for a flight that my oldest son bought for me.  “Mom, it’s your birthday and your other son and I know what you value most…time with those you love.  So we want to spend your birthday weekend with you.  We’ll do whatever you want…hike, go to the beach, out to dinners, a movie if you want.  Whatever you say, we’ll do.  We can’t wait to be with you."  My beautiful and older and wiser sister Just Cathy is picking me up at the airport with another wonderful sister in tow.  My cup runneth over.

So, really, a little rejection now and then is a good thing.  It jolts us back to the reality of what is really important in our lives. 

I can take rejection from a pimply-faced boy, a father who was clueless when it came to understanding the effects of his words, a husband who needed to move on to greener pastures, and an agent who just didn’t think I had what it takes.

I have the love of an amazing husband, four great children and my loyal friends.  

 So, like the Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live, on this day of rejection, I can honestly say:

I’m Good Enough.

I’m Smart Enough.

And Doggone It, People Like Me!

Note:  In no way, do I have any intention of denigrating the agent who gave me such a wonderful opportunity.  He sought me out, encouraged me, wrote me a heartfelt rejection letter that included support and positivity.  I will be forever grateful to him.

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To reject you of all people Mary. What fools these mortals be. I wish you the best birthday too. Maybe this agent just didn't realize what a prize you are.
Sorry to hear about the letter, but on to bigger and better. And Happy birthday!
keep at it!!!!! I have faith in you!
Happy 55 and another 50.
Keep at it. You reach a lot of people for the better as it is now through this blog and through your work.
This made me cry Mary, for so many different reasons, the biggest of which is that the feelings you expressed are so familiar. I am so glad you are the person you are, with the voice you have discovered through a lifetime of sturggle and triumph.

What beautiful sons you brough into the world. Have an amazing trip!

You and my mom share the same birthday so now I will always think of you as well on the 22nd.
Ummm, don't know what sturggle is...struggle would be what I was going for.
Happy BirthdayMary!
Thanks for a great ending to an all too familiar story.
Oh, the sting of rejection. There's nothing quite like it. But, oh the joy of reaching a place in life where you feel the sting, shrug your shoulders and then move on - without even missing a beat. Good on you, Mary!
And the agent? He's an idiot.
You are one smart cookie there, Mary. Rejection is hard, especially on the young. Seems it should get easier as we get older (since we are supposedly also getting wiser) but it ain't always so.

Chin up, girl. you may wind up getting published, you may not. It won't change who you are either way (not to me, anyway :-D).
Dudette! You left out the amazing sisters and brothers part!
Sheesh!!! And who do ya think is picking you up at the airport?!? Your husband? NO! Your 4 adorable children? NO! Your wonderful friends? NO! Could it be? Would it be? Your amazing two California sistahs who love and adore you?!? YES!!! Hurry and bring your sweet little aging ass and get some yummy sisterly love, baby sis!!! It's sunny here!!!
Happy Birthday. You still perservere after all the rejection. Don't ever stop until it's good enough for YOU. Have a great trip and enjoy the time with your kids.
Happy birthday, Mary T. 55 is a very good number. So nice and round.
I have enough rejection slips from publishers that rejection has become a hobby. My other hobby is wallpapering my bathroom. With rejection slips.I feel the pain.
R (for rejection)
I turned 55 last week. I also know of rejection. I do happen to feel that your writing is of publishing quality. Don't let rejection stop you; but, you know that. ~R~
Hugs to you on your birthday, welcome to the Sammy Hagar Club -- I can't drive 55!

As for the rejection of your writing, welcome to that club, too. You now belong to large group of future-famous writers who were rejected by editors who proved they didn't know what they were talking about.

I'm glad I can't count or even remember all the times I've been rejected, and I wouldn't go back to being that rejected boy at the dance for any amount of money!! Most likely he told you no as a reaction to his own rejection.

My father not only thot it was nuts for a girl to go to college, but that there was no reason for me to go either, tho' I think some of that had to do with his own defensiveness as a high-school dropout and because he couldn't afford to send even his brightest child to college.
awww.....sorry about the clueless dad, especially. But congrats on your success and what you have achieved. rated.
That kid at the dance was an idiot. I would have fallen all over myself trying to get on the floor if some girl had asked me.

As for rejection, I kind of developed a F.U. world attitude when I was quite young so when I crash and burn I shake it off, consider it a failed experiment and move on.
Happy 55 Mary! I'm one of the few here who can know from experience that your best years can be ahead.

I have a feeling that by your next BD you'll have better news on the publishing front, but in any case, you're a star here, and you have the chops, for sure.
I like you a lot!!! Wishing you the merriest of birthdays. Have a drink for you. You deserve to celebrate and I'm glad your kids recognize that.
Never underestimate the power that somebody who continually puts themselves out there, even under the threat of rejection, has in the lives of people who are reluctant to do the same. Your bravery inspires.

Every slap in the face that you have survived is moving you further into the light. And it's SO much better there.
That is so wonderful that your sons would do that! That is a great and worthy accomplishment.

In publishing, it seems like having some rejections under your belt is a badge of honor. Keep at it. I have faith in you.

...and happy birthday!
Thank you for posting such an beautifully vulnerable and certainly helpful piece.

It’s terribly hard for me to wrap my mind around the comment your father made to concerning you graduating from college. It’s not my intent to place you in a position to explain him or the comment. It’s simply I think of my daughter and know how such a word would crush her heart - something I hope and pray I will never do.

What I will offer is this. I have known you for a while now. I have witnessed you respond to crises, circumstances, attacks, insults, and perhaps even more difficult praise. I’ve seen the good fruit of someone who has embraced what could be gained through her challenges, constantly sought to grow, has been eager in pursuit of maturity (the good kind not the wrinkly kind), and who genuinely cares about others.

Your vocation alone speaks of where your heart is.

Much of life seems to be made up of running from difficulty or facing it with a desire to become a better human being who is able to benefit others from what they have learned and internalized.

You’re definitely the latter kind of person Mary. Happy birthday youngster.

Rated and appreciated.

p.s. The literary agent is going to be very sorry someday.
Just keep being YOU! :) Happy B-Day and ENJOY the hell out of it!

Imagine the thoughts of that boy when he was away from the crowd and by himself and he saw you in the hall or on the street. You were kind to him then and kinder still in your description of him here; that is the exercise of power. A nicely crafted post and plenty of thumbs up from fellow rejectionists, that's a 55 we can all drive.
Darn right we do! Have a wonderful birthday.
First - Happy Birthday Mary! Many many more in the company of those you love and love you back.
Next, to the title and subject of this piece. Just remember the "Decca Audition" - the one where Decca auditioned the Beatles, and rejected them! Not every person or company who might reject your stuff is even worthy of doing so, or smart in doing so.
Anyway, if you were accepted, you would be very busy writing for others and we would miss you here!
The thing that I always love about your posts, and I've said this to you many times before, is your willingness to share your most humbling/embarrassing moments with us, and then to put everything into this healthy perspective that you have. You seem to get back to the "good place" quicker than most and I admire you for that.

Hey, maybe you can get the agent interested if you put one of your kids in a hot air balloon... just a thought. Happy Birthday and have a great time with your family!!!
Oh, Mary I am so sorry. You have it all in perspective because you are funny, smart, honest, loving and good enough, but I know how rejection stings. You will write a book, maybe just not this one at this time. I have faith in you.
And re the age thing: I hear ya sister!
Damn right, you are good enough. You need neither agent nor published book to prove that.
A very Happy Birthday. Literary agents are insane.
Mary, First of all. Happy Birthday. 55!
Second, oh the rejection crap. It's crap. We all know it. You know it. Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like hell. I've got nothing clever to say to take away its sting, other than that those who reject you are assholes. Oops. Okay. Maybe I could have been more eloquent, but you know what I mean.
Happy Birthday. !
What I said yesterday ... yhea, well that stands
tall and true today, my friend. Actually double it. You are one incredible woman and your strength makes us all stronger. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox
I like you! that's too bad about the agent though. bummer. but happy birthday. I'm glad you have so much to fill your life (and I just love the story about the dance....that's a classic story from the annals of girlgeekdom...don't I know it well....)
Yes, Mary, people waaay like you. I'm people.

Where were you when I was 13 damnit?
Love the Stewart Smiley reference. How lovely to have the sons you have - and raised, which is surely proof that you were more than good enough
Ya' know, Mary my first comment was a bit flippant but truly; I have read much, maybe all, of what you've written here on OS. I can think of no one more thoughtful and compassionate than you.

That you as a thirteen yr. old would have both the courage and empathy for someone enough to risk your own ego, only reinforces what I think everyone here already knows about you.
Happy birthday. Great summing up of seeing the good things past the bad things. You deserve a book contract, and it'll come...
I get the kid at the dance, sorry to say. Reject you before you have a chance to reject him. Or to get even with the others who already had rejected him. Or something. I remember going a couple of years with a rule that I wouldn't date any girl I actually liked. That way I got to do the rejecting. Stuart Smalley could have written a book about me.

Happy birthday!
happy weekend girl. rejection hits all of us, no matter how wonderful we are
Oh, Mary..... You are plenty good enough for me. Super congratulations for your birthday! The great thing about birthdays is, the more you have, the longer you live, so I will wish so many more for you. I'm so glad to hear that you are visiting your family. Now I don't have to write a birthday tribute to you. That can be your little gift to me. (snicker)

I love your sister Cathy too, and expect to see many photos and touching posts from the both of you on your return. Consider that an order.

I remember the first time I was rejected by a girl. I was thirteen, also. I'm nearly over it and am considering asking another girl to go out with me soon. Some say I hold on to things too long. I don't know. I laughed and laughed at the Stuart Smalley video and have adopted him as my new hero. That should help me with some much needed courage issues, after all, every rejection is that much closer to a yes.

Have a fantastic voyage Mary and big hugs to you and your big Sis.

PS shop that proposal around. Your agent is a fool. Get his address to me and I'll go give him a stern talking to, If you catch my drift. ;-)
bobbot: Ah, thank you for your very kind words and birthday wishes. They mean the world.

Sheldon: Yes, onward and upward! So much better than the alternative. Thank you for the birthday wishes!

Cfranc: Oh I will...I have faith in you too.

rijaxn: Another 50? Why not. I would love that.

Gwool: How could one ever be disappointed when you receive a comment like that. Thank you!!!

mamoore: First, I never noticed the looked right to me :)
Second, Happy Birthday to your mom! Third, thank you so much for your comments...I hope to meet you someday as I feel we are kindred spirits. Rejection always hurts and at the same time helps us become better people if we let it. I know you are that type of person. Thank you again!

spotted mind: Thank you for the birthday wishes and for your comment. It is all too familiar and I find myself in such exceptional company.

Unbreakable: Good descriptor--the sting of rejection. It really does sting doesn't it. And there's like nothing you can do about it. I'm lying in bed doing all the self talk, positive affirmations, reframing...and I felt like someone had stabbed my heart. It's one wound that healed in a miraculously short amount of time, thanks to the comments of you and everyone else. Thank you!

Bill S.: My chin is up...I'm a good listener (well some of the time). Thank you so are one of the original OSers and I always smile when I see your name. Thank you!

Just Cathy: I am now seriously concerned about your eyes! Did you not see my adoring and wonderful sentence about YOU in my post? Make that appointment with your optometrist asap, but not until you've picked me up from the airport and taken me out for a fahbulous lunch!

OE: Thank you so much. For the birthday wishes and the supportive and motivational words. They mean a lot.

Hells Bells: 55 sounds scary to me! I'm working on a positive reframe on that one as we speak! Thank you much for the birthday wishes.

john b: Well, now I'm feeling privileged to be in the company of other rejectees. Your writing rocks. Your comment made me laugh and inspired me to do some remodeling. Thank you.

Chuck: Hey, another 55 year oldee! It's the new 30's, right? Right? Oh well, I appreciate your good words of wisdom. Thank you.

Tom: Any club that has you a member is a good enough club for me! I agree with your take on the boy. He'd been stung enough times for one evening, so he needed to sting back. Sounds like we had fathers that surely had to be related. My father dropped out of college as well. Thank you for your comment...definitely helped to cheer me up.

Nick: I would say the dad one has been the toughest one of all, but I since have done a fair amount of work around that, and my father (who died 20 years ago) had a good heart. I think he would be mortified. I never told him how that comment affected me. Thank you so much for your support.

ocularnervosa: Well, it would have been nice if you had been the boy...but it sure gave me an appreciation for how hard it must be for boys, young men, grown men. The expectation is that they be the ones to do the asking. I think that still prevails and it would be brutal. I had much more empathy for them after that dance. Kudos to all men who have taken so many risks, in both their relationships and their careers. I'm going to work on the F.U. attitude. It wouldn't hurt.

Harvey: Great support and wisdom. Thanks so much and thanks for your dedication on your post today that I loved so much:

Lea: I'm catching up to you. Not sure I'll ever be able to match your amazing stories of adventure, but you know you are my inspiration always. Thank you for the gift of you.

Gwendolyn: Thank you! I like you a lot too. Isn't this just an amazing place! I plan on many things to be grateful for.

knightwriter: Your comment means a lot to me. Really. Beautifully worded, a balm to a wound, an inspiration. Thank you!

Denise: Yeah, I have a badge of honor! Another great way to look at life's little rejections. Thank you! Thank you for your good words and your note to me on Facebook...I will be writing later, but you have helped a lot. Thank you for the birthday wishes!

Dennis: As usual, your kind and supportive words make a big difference. In fact, I'm now down right grateful for each and every rejection I've ever gotten! Seriously. The father one was the toughest. But healing is a part of life and I have only great love and compassion for the man who tried to do his best. Having said that, I would have loved to have talked to him about this before his death, but I just never had the nerve. Your daughter is most fortunate. Thank you again!

LadyMiko: Thank you...the best words one could hear. I will enjoy my birthday for many reasons and one of them is because of people like you.

Daniel: Hmmm...I never thought about what that boy thought in his quiet hours alone. I really was quite a geeky awkward girl and I imagine only that he was relieved. But I like your version better! Thank you very very much.

Sourie: Ah, really, thank you!!!

Umbrellakinesis: Well, wow, thank you for sharing that. That's what the writing is all about, isn't it. At least for me. That the words we write find residence and resonance in the heart of another. I deeply appreciate your encouragement.

Tim4change: Well, you know how to put things in perspective. Someone rejected the Beatles????? Oh dear, I wouldn't want to be them. That would be a tough one. And there is always a bright side to everything, always. This latest rejection is a mere blip, a scratch. As long as nothing happens to any of my children, I'm pretty good to go. Thank you!

Roger: Thank you so much and have a great time in NYC! Now, which one of my kids who are now full grown could I convince to go up in a hot air balloon! Being the dare devils that they are, they'd all say YES. I'm thinking, I'm thinking....thanks again for your comment of means a lot.

emma: Hey and I...we're figuring this crazy thing of life one day at a time aren't we? You know how much I appreciate your support, especially of late. Your words just made me smile in the biggest and best of ways. As for the age thing, we just don't need to think about that one too much.

Susan: Tears stinging in my eyes right now. Thank you!

Stim: Thank you for the birthday wishes. I'm actually quite thankful for this agent for he prompted me to engage in process I wouldn't have otherwise done. But I sure wouldn't want to be one. I appreciate your kindness.

fingerlakeswanderer: Well I just LOVED your comment. No mincing of the words there and that feels good too! I'm glad you're feeling better and I just absolutely loved your post today about Sendak. You are one talented woman. Thank you!

irritated: Good thing you said all those nice things to me yesterday because they really helped me this morning! Really, you have no idea. Love you!

dolores: Oh there are plenty of more stories of girlgeekdom where that one comes from. Yikes. Awkward years for sure. You're life is more than full...I don't want to be greedy here. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

john w: Okay, I forgive you for your Broncos recap. I really do.
Mary! You are so busted! You added that sentence after my comment! You are for sure getting a birthday whoop assing from me! And if you call me your "older" sister one more time on here, I am posting "those" photos of you that you begged me never to post!!! You know I will! Getting that itchy feeling to put up a post tomorrow morning while you're flying the friendly skies! xoxo

Happy birthday Mary & have a great trip. I too was thinking about the "Beatles" being rejected. you HAVE to have some rejection slips out of the way before the published product - so your certainly on your way.
Aw, Mary. [[hug]]

Rejection does suck. A lot.

But WE like you...
Hey Mary, you're the queen of this pond, don't you know. Happy Birthday, count your blessings, and send that manuscript to some other publisher who recognizes a good read when it hits him in the face.
Nikki: I am more than grateful for those two sons, as well as my daughters, and I agree. Their love and support is good enough for me! Stewart Smiley is a classic...funny, yet so much wisdom. Thank you!

Luland: I love your words of encouragement and, come on, let's face it...none of these rejections were like death sentences or horrible illness or anything like that. No pity party for me. As for the weather there..."nice and cool". Surely it will beat snow and sleet! Can't wait to go. Thank you so much for your very true words!

john: How sweet of you to return. And when I read your first comment, I only smiled to see you here. No thoughts of flippancy crossed my mind. Your words of support are overwhelming in the best of ways. Thank you so much! I really had no idea.

Blue in TX: Thank you for the birthday wishes and the optimistic words! Very much appreciated.

jimmy: As I said in an earlier comment, I got a lot of empathy for the roles so many young boys are put in...the rejection was unnerving and I only tried that once! A total new respect for the male species. Your strategy of avoiding the girls you liked is not an unusual one and I'm glad you worked past that. Stuart gotta love "him" and all the inherent wisdom.

Lisa: Thank you so much for reading this. You know, it's perhaps even a bit of a stretch for me to call this a rejection. As I told one of my children this morning, getting upset about this would be like buying a lottery ticket and being depressed I didn't win the jackpot. It would be absolute foolishness.

Michael: OK, fine...I'll take lots of pictures with my handy iphone. I'll put them up on Facebook :) Don't you just love that Stuart Smalley video? I love him! Lots of wisdom there. As for the agent, no, no, he's no fool. He's actually quite good at what he does and I'm thankful for the honest feedback he gave me today. I will always appreciate that he sought me out and gave me this opportunity...I do appreciate your support and always good words! And yeah, I think you need to move on past that 13 year old's a wasting!

neilpaul: For me to complain about anything would be absolutely ridiculous...but yet, sometimes I do...I hate it when I do that. Thanks for the good words!

JK Brady: And you are one of them!!! Thank you and thank you for the birthday wishes.

Cathy: I am busted!!! Ha ha, I had a good laugh over that little prank I did...made me feel like back in the days when I was an impish irritating little sister spying on you and your boyfriends. Hee hee. As for dear old Dad, you know I've done a lot of work around him and I love him to pieces. And, okay, fine, I won't call you "older" sister ever again...I'm pretty sure.
PS As a therapist, surely you've run into this dilemma: Some people who are facing rejection or bad times want others to cheer them up, to show them the positive side, to talk them out of their despair. Others want nothing more than to wallow in it. What's funny is that we tend to treat the ones we love with what we would want (an inversion of the Golden Rule). I know my husband and I are opposites and find ourselves frustrated on this score. He's always trying to talk me out of my bad feelings when all I want him to say is something along the line of, "God, that really does suck. I feel so bad for you." So, on the outside chance that you need this right now:

God, life really sucks for you Mary. You worked so goddamn long on that thing! When you could have been outdoors enjoying the good weather! Oh my god, and remember that little middle school twerp who thought you were such a loser? I bet he's gotten a book published. You poor thing. I'm so glad I'm not you.

trilogy: Thank you so much for your good wishes...very kind of you and it sure makes me feel better!

Verbal: Hug received and much appreciated, really. Thank you!

Lainey: Now you're making me smile big time. And really, I think that book proposal could use a little bit of tweaking before it gets sent out again. I got some good feedback and need to take the time to rework it. I can kind of be the impulsive sort...which is why OS is such a good fit for me (although it's gotten me in trouble from time to time!). Thanks again!
Hey Mary, who's older, you or Cathy?
What fools they are; all of them. Rejection always hurts, and I see a lot of myself in your words. This is great, great writing.
Happy Birthday Mare!!....remember, the agent sought you out!
Lainey: I'm younger but Cathy looks younger, damn her!

AskKW: It's gratifying to know that you resonated with my words and your compliment. I have nothing but gratitude for this good agent who sought me out and I am learning much in the process. But sometimes being human isn't always rational! Thank you.

Gary: Thanks for the birthday wishes and yes, I agree! I love this agent man and will always be grateful to him. He is one first class guy.
Happy Birthday, Mary!

Just remember, there is more than one agent that will look at your work. If he gave you any new ideas or tips, use them to fill in, puff up, and burst out -- then send it back for another try!

You DO have a voice -- your words always jump off the page on OS. So, remember -- if WE all love you, and WE are some of the best, then YOU and your work are well loved by some of the very best. That's pretty great, isn't it?! :) :))
"Why wasn't I good enough"
Yeah, I hear you. And I know that you are.
A half hour ago I got another job rejection--"We're going with someone else, thanks."
Getting tired of hearing that.
Chica, you're aces. Rejection sucks - but the way you handled the book thing was totally graceful. Maybe the upside of getting older is the maturity factor - it hurts, but we know it's not the end of the world. Anyway, happy birthday!!!!
(Mary, I knew you were older. I was just trying to get you to say Cathy's older right after you'd promised her you wouldn't ever say that! But you managed to evade using those precise words--clever you :)
my dad asked me if i wanted to go to notre dame, his alma mater, when i said i didn't think i was smart enough he just walked away from me and never spoke of it again. i didn't think about it at the time, i was just glad he left. any contact with my dad was tortue. he had two levels of communication; yelling and rage. but years later it haunts me as to why he didn't see i needed a father to tell me yes you are son or why do you feel that way. i relate to your post marytkelly i think you and i found our self esteem and worth after we left home.
Happy Birthday, Mary, from ForeverMom, who is very, very, old compared to you. She also wants to say "the first book proposal is for practice, just like the interview for the job you don't really want; now refine". Also, you know the word "honyawk(sp?)"? Are you from Kansas? Finally, anyone who has your relationship with children and siblings is wildly successful, by any measure.
~FatRocco and FeralRusty
Happy 55th birthday, Mary!!! We've all be rejected one time or another, haven't we? It gives us character and keeps our feet on the ground!
Oh Mary, I ached for you reading this. I know this story all too well, myself -- as only a woman who dated for 10 years through the personal ads and has shopped a book does!

Please please don't give up on your book. Agents are very individualistic -- one agent's "nope" is another agent's "can't wait to sell this!" You've already done the hard work of the book proposal. Research other agents that represent books of the type you're trying to sell and send your package to them. Keep doing so until you find one to represent you, as I feel confident you will. You are in fact good enough, smart enough and loads of people like you and your writing. It will happen!

As for the other past say it so well yourself. We all have to heal from them and move on. You have so much love in your life now, and you are smart enough to know that and appreciate it. That's huge -- many people never get that far.
Forgot to say, Happy Birthday! And I'm so glad you're celebrating the way you are....sounds great.
OK, so LAINEY - "Here's one for the gipper." Not sure who that is, in actuality, but in this case it is likely, me. By five years 10 months 1 week. Now you know. She is and will always be, my baby sissy, as I often affectionately refer to there it is. And, as whitnessed by a couple dozen of OS'ers in Boulder last August...she looks far younger than her years, has the fit and ready body of a teenager (big "big sister" points for that one) and could pass for one of her daughters, easily. They all wear the same size! If you call size 'zero' a size!
I like you so much, I'd like to buy you a birthday latte, missy! Call me when you get here!
I'm fifty friggin' five and you look older than me. But then, I look 45 - so...

My 22 year old son can't afford his own gas - never mind buying me a plane trip.

And no reputable literary agent ever complimented my writing.

Now I'm all depressed. Maybe I should have written this post.
Mary, So sorry to hear about this rejection. But I'm blown away by your courage, and your generosity in sharing this experience. You are proof positive that true success is not found in approval, but how we live. And you seem to be living pretty impressively, from what I can see.
I'm convinced that the worst rejection is parental rejection. It stings like nothing else. I never cease to be amazed at what parents sometimes say to their children, never realizing the damage they've inflicted. (Oh, and by the way, people DO like you, doggone it!)
Bon Anniversaire Mary, have a fabulous trip! Great Post...RRR
Mary, do you remember what I told you that night I saw you?

He doesn't know what to do with your work. But that doesn't mean it's not great work.
my question is, is the agent any good? did you ask to see his resume? what makes you think he had any contacts? who did he send it to? and are you going to send your work to any other agents?
re the kid who rejected you at the dance-- thats a whole other story.
there is a thing in evolutionary psychology called "mate value" that you might be interested to look into, and probably explains many things like jealousy and rejection etc
Gee Golly willakers Mary. I have not been on here for a long time, and I've only read just a little bit of your story. I can't finish it right now because I'm beat. But, it sounds good already. Can't wait to read it in the morning........first thing! Already rated! : )
I think everyone feels that way, even if they would never admit it!
You're a good friend, and you are one of the better writers here. I like you.
Mary, thanks for this. It's oddly comforting. Happy birthday! It sounds like you'll be having the best kind of celebration.
lisa/lalucas: Thanks for being so supportive! I was going to write you on Facebook to tell you about this. I so appreciate all your good and kind words to me. Thank you!

Walter: Thank you and so are you. I'm sorry you got yet another job rejection...I understand...some of my clients have gotten suspiciously healthier due to economic reasons. It's a little scary. Keep the faith and stay strong...the good news is that everything is temporary.

Owl: Well said! Yes, there has to be some upside of aging, and honestly I'm still shocked at the number thing. I so don't feel least not physically but I do appreciate the wisdom that comes with age. Thank you.

Lainey: You little imp you! I didn't even think of glad I passed the test!

arabica: I think you are exactly right...we both found our self-esteem after we left home...and it was the only way it could be done. Thank you!

Will Someone Feed the Cat: Thanks for the birthday wishes! Love the image of the fact, I love throwing pasta around.

The Rescuers: Do I know the word "honyawk" (yeah, I don't know the spelling either)??? This is a good story bout my father. He always called his seven scrappy kids that word. He always had a big grin on his face when he said it. That brought back some good memories. Not from Kansas, actually grew up in various places around the country...but not Kansas. Thank you!

patricia k: Thank you! Yes, and I'm sure there are future rejections to look forward to :)

Silkstone: I appreciate all the wisdom in your comment and I won't give up at all. I received some good feedback and I'm grateful for that. It all pales in comparison to the love of those in one's life as you point out. For that, I'm rich beyond measure. That includes knowing you! Thank you.

Off to airport...back later.
What a tough piece! But don't let a single agent's rejection get you down. Hey, writers, really talented writers with a future, have gone through 50 agents on their way to finding the one who will believe in them. Every agent has their own preconceived notions of what they want in a manuscript, or a proposal, but don't always do such a great job of articulating it up front. So they catch a glimmer and then, no, that's not it, that's not what they meant. I, for one, think you are a fine writer. Now that you have a proposal, keep at it, and never mind the rejection. The incident in junior high was much worse.

And you might want to keep these tidbits in mind, from Michael Larson's, "How to Get a Literary Agent."

Before he wrote "Roots" Alex Haley had received two hundred rejections.

Years after Jerzy Kosinki won the National Book Award for "Steps" he permitted an acquaintance to change the his name and title and send a manuscript of the novel to 13 agents and 14 publishers to test the plight of new writers. They all rejected it, including Random House, which had published it!
Such a universal feeling, that red-faced "What's wrong with me?" feeling. Bold of you to address it. Can't believe your father said that. Ugh.

I remember the day dad said that to you about me, JOAN, and what that meant to you. And the implications and fathomless possibilities of the words left unsaid.

Being another "am I good enough, smart enough, am I lovable" kinda gal, I shriveled in pain when you told me about what he said -- or was I there too? I thought he said it on one of your many trips back to California to say goodbye to him when he was in long-term dying of a brain tumor that attached itself to his brain like a tick on a dog.

As I remember it, once again you had rushed out from Colorado to comfort him, like that sweaty boy on the bench at the dance, and he reacted to you in the same, adolescent, dismissive way. Skin burning rejection.

I was was kicked in the stomach with the pain you felt at that time - expressed and unexpressed pain. Even though I was the ... er ... reframe here ... USED as the .. "wild child," "black sheep," "outcast," of the family, you'd think I'd be used to comments like that. But I wasn't. And you, I thought, had less protection from that sort of thing than I had.

Yet your strength and courage ran silently like underground springs while mine splashed all over the place -- making a racket like a whale snorting on its broken ocean surface.

I must also admit that deep down inside I was equally shocked about what he thought of me and blew up with pride -- his words were helium to my ego. I WAS good enough. But what a way to hear it. And that kind of pride lasted about as long as helium in a balloon -- deflates eventually anyhow and my fragile-as-balloon- skin ego with it.

And guess who wiped herself off, threw back her hair, and stepped right over his words and strode on to become who you are today and the fathomless you that will be revealed again and again, day by day, as we all get the benefit, joy, sorrow, experience, strength, and hope and hilarity of you through your unique, brilliant voice.

Sorry to say this, but you are not brilliant, Mary. YOU ARE BRILLIANCE!

I'm so grateful we were born into the same nutty family and I get to have you as my sister.

Love and admiration and birthday joy (and jealous I'm not there too with Cathy and Sheila), Joan
I didn't like this article. Needs work. :)
Happy Birthday Mary!

I know the sting of rejection, but as you know it isn't what weighs you down, it's what you step on to facilitate the climb upwards. Have a wonderful time!
Mary, that was excellent! I loved every bit of it, and it was great. Let me tell you something "Mary girl" People don't appreciate good writing anymore. They want fantasy, crap, stuff that's made in 5 minutes. How can a person tell it was made in 5 minutes.........look at my stuff hahahahaha! But, me, I am not here for a book. I write because it's fun. And I am sure you enjoy writing yourself. But you, unlike me, are an excellent writer who can capture a persons interest immediately. You're great! Don't change! If its humor that is not your strong point, SO WHAT! Continue to write what you write because I love you. And you know what?

YOU ARE ALL THAT!!!!! You're EDITOR'S PICK!!!!!!! : )
Ugh... I feel you on this one. It takes me months to recover from rejections. I have a feeling you bounce back better than I do. You seem like a very strong woman. But I know this feeling you describe very well. Also, I might be able to suggest a better agent to you. I dunno. I think it's worth a try. I would read your book!!!
It's not just that people like you. It's that the people closest to you like you. Have a grand birthday. You raised some cool kids!
Rejection comes with age. You have to earn it. I'm invisible to women under 35. Which reminds me, happy birthday, hun. Don't let the bastards grind you down.
Thank you for that beautiful post--I truly enjoyed every word. You are a great writer--having just joined OS a few days ago I'm thrilled to be discovering writers like you. I can only hope that when my children are grown they do such thoughtful things as yours! Happy bday enjoy your trip!
Happy birthday! And lucky you to have gotten noticed by a reputable agent, sort of like being nominated for a grammy! But the audacity of that zit faced boy! Some rejections we could all do well without.
Mary, because I’m feeling lazy right now I’m inclined to not comment on your post, but something won’t let me just walk on by without saying something. I know you’re not fishing for compliments – you like yourself enough without needing the OS community’s affirmations. I know you’re celebrating your strength and we celebrate it with you.

However, I need to tell you that your putting yourself out there like you’ve frequently done is so nurturing to your readers. Somehow, your transparency and honesty inspire us to be decent human beings – our better selves. Whatever success you achieve or don’t achieve, know that you have made a valuable contribution to OS. You’ve certainly successfully wormed your way into my heart (although in my fantasies I can’t decide if I like you better as my sister, my spouse or something a bit racier).

Anyway, thanks for being you and for doing what you do. And one more thing – I’m not a junior high boy, but I’ll dance with you anytime you ask me.


Fuck rejection.

Don't sweat it, some people just have square brains. Luckily you're not one of them.

Happy Birthday!
Wow...I hurt for you and was proud for you all at once. I really connected with this piece- the writing was strong and voice clear. It is a strange thing, this human life.
Brian B: Oh I will and thank you so much for reading.

Sandra: I'll be calling you to cash in on my birthday latte...but I'd like to make it a cappuccino :)

Duaneart: I look older than you? Well I'll have to take this on faith given your avatar. Yeah, your comment is depressing and now I'm feeling very old and spoiled. I hope by now you're out of your depression!

Juliet: Thank you so much. It did feel a little naked exposing all that rejection, but then I remember that I'm no different than the rest of us...if I'm feeling something, chances are 99.9% of others have felt it too! I love this, "true success is not found in approval, but how we live." That's beautiful.

Steve: I agree...parental rejection is, in therapy terms, bad, bad, bad. And no uneasy thing to untangle but it can be done. Thanks for reading and your very supportive comment.

patrick: Thanks! I'm having a blast.

Liz: I did remember that!!! It took me awhile of course...but yes, and I'd like to talk to you more about that...I'll be PMng you...and, btw, you rock!

vzn: I always love your comments and your suggestions..."mate value"...I'm on it. Thank you!

historicalhome312: I think you are absolutely right and it's too bad it's so hard for some people to admit. We're only human. Thank you.

Rich: I like you too! Thank you very very much for your words. You made me smile.

C.K.: I know exactly what you mean when you say, "oddly comforting". This is the part of the OS community I just love.

Steve: Erma Bombeck had like 67 rejections...but still, the people you are listing. Major writers! I have no aspirations or illusions there. But I agree with your comment and your story about Jerry Kosinki says it all doesn't it. Now more than ever, it's crazy difficult to get an agent and/or get published. I now have a new challenge in my will keep me young and humble. Thank you so much for your comment. Much appreciated.

Donna: I'm glad my post was helpful in some way. That makes it all worthwhile.

Beth: Universal yes...and my guess is my father must have things said like that to him quite often for it to just come out of his mouth. He wasn't the most genteel person, but he had a good heart. Thank you.

Joan: Wish you were here!

Adam: I LOVED your comment. One of my favorites to be totally honest. And now I'm going to re-edit it!

Buffy: It's the best policy to take, isn't it? Keep on moving. You are an excellent example!

R. Mariea: THANK YOU! What a wonderful comment....and as for my humor, honestly there are some things you write about that just really aren't personal transformations came at a price, not a laugh. But that's okay. I personally find myself pretty damn funny from time to time...but humor is a very individual thing. Thank you! We should meet for coffee some time!

Palindrone: You get the first book if it ever happens! And I will PM you about the agent. Thank you! I was pretty bummed when I got that email, but writing this post and then all the feedback, I can't think of a better way to get over something. I coud have been in a pretty good funk about that one, but no way, not after reading comments like yours and others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Maria: That's the most important part, isnt it. Thank you.

Snoreville: I'm very happy to see your comment. Your right and I won't (let anyone grind me down). And thank you for the birthday wishes. You are kind.

Karin: Welcome to OS! Thank you so much for your comment...that means a lot and I look forward to reading you when I can (sons due to arrive shortly). I should ask my children why they are so wonderful to me, but I will tell you my biggest parenting tip: See your children for who they are, not who you want them to be. We all want to be seen and loved for that, yet we seem to have such a hard time doing it. I don't know why. Thanks again.

TotallyAnonymous: Yes, I will always be honored that that agent contacted me. As for the zit faced boy...yikes, he was in his own pain that night...but yeah, it would have been much nicer if he had said yes!

Skunktimonious: Well, given you left that comment at some ungodly hour, I don't think anyone could accuse you of being lazy! And what a my cup is running and spilling all over the place! Thank you! For me, I finding connection with others, knowing that I can be any part of helping contribute something positive to others, is a huge source of satisfaction. I, for one, think that this being human is damn hard. Life can be absolutely devastating (and I'm not talking about any of those rejections, but real devastation). Community, sharing, encouraging...just makes things all the tough stuff a little more doable. And now you have just helped me. Thank you!

mr. E: Thank you! I liked your one-liners...and they were perfect for the occasion.

foolin': Life is so strange, don't you think. I always reflect on this, especially for some odd reason when I'm on an airplane. All these strangers crammed together in this vulnerable place, not unlike OS...putting our stuff out there and seeing where it lands. You captured the essence of what I was trying to say. It hurts to say, to think about...but it's all the stuff that makes us stronger. Thank you!
Every "no" is one step closer to a "yes"...something like that anyway. I like you very much! Happy Birthday!
Yeah! Coffee would be great. But, I have to say, you are funny! And yes, there are some things that I write about that are not funny (not sure if that was a typo on your part { I, you}) But I try. But, I like your humor, and your seriousness. I really think that you can do both. I mean really, in all honesty in the beginning of this blog I thought it was going to be funny. Then I noticed the seriousness of it.

Either way, it catches my attention EVERYTIME!
Keep it up girl because why? YOU ARE ALL OF THAT.....AND A BAG OF CHIPS!!!!!! ; )
Happy birthday, hope you are having a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, felt the red faced moment, the extreme hurt with your dad, and the rejection from someone who sought you out..tough stuff. But then, sounds like you are tougher. What a great family you have too!
Gorgeous post. Beautifully written, and moving. Thank you. It makes all of us feel a little better. Rated.
I think you're da bomb, Mary -- and I think you know that. I also know you know I know about rejection, too. Sometimes I just listen for the voice of Roy Orbison singing, "Well it's aaaall right, ..." So many great lyrics in that song End of the Line.

This was a great piece. I hope you had fun in the Bay Area for your birthday -- I'm giving you a rain check on that burrito.
I don't know how I missed this wonderful and thoughtful post. I try to think of rejection as the bank of the river that helps me to flow in the direction that is best - for me. A very happy birthday to you, my lovely!
How could I miss you b-day?? I'm with rijaxn... Happy 55 and another 50 for sure... You rock... xoxoxo