More on Denial

One of the big problems with denial is you don’t know you’re in it.  If you are ready to see the truth, when someone says “drinking problem,” the light goes on immediately.  If you’re not ready, sometimes you don’t even hear it.  I once said “I missed you” to a man I was attracted to, and his next sentence made it clear that he hadn’t heard me.  For many years I’ve heard or read the phrase “The wound was given in relationship, and it has to be healed in relationship,” and I would think that made sense, but didn’t feel anything.  In December of 2008, Caryn said it to me and it struck with force.  After the session I started feeling lonely in a way I never had before.  I realized I had been in denial of my loneliness my whole life.  Caryn encouraged me to ask for help.  It was difficult because when I was growing up, if I asked my parents for help, they would make me wrong for asking.  Because I was desperate, though overwhelmed with fear, I called some friends and asked if they would invite me for a meal and/or walk the dog with me.  I was blown away by their eagerness to help, and made sure that I saw a friend every day.
Another time I found myself in denial happened at my family’s summer house on the coast of Maine.  My mother said something very cruel to me.  Almost immediately afterward I wrote it in my journal.  The next day I read my journal entry and found myself confused about whether it had really happened or not.  I asked my sister and she said “O yes, Mother did say that” and agreed that it was mean.  I realized from that incident that this must have happened many times, her saying something nasty and me forgetting it immediately, which was why I was always so unprepared for her attacks.  After this incident I started writing things down, and began to shield myself, and not give Mother a target.
Sometimes breaking through denial was difficult.  One time I was in a workshop, we were working in pairs, and my partner said something to me which I immediately started to deny.  Then there came an odd discomfort in my body, so I stopped talking and looked — and saw that what she was saying was true.  I told her so and felt the discomfort melt in relief.  But I saw how easy it would have been to stay in denial.  Certainly the person I was talking to believed my defense, she didn’t argue, and was surprised when I suddenly shifted.  I wondered how often my mother came to places like that and refused to shift.  I’m very grateful for my commitment to truth which has carried me through many such obstacles.

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