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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Denial: The lies we tell ourselves to cope.

A friend of mine inspired this one.  Not by her actions, but rather by her suggestion.

Denial, is the cliche goes, it isn't just a river in Egypt.  Denial can be seen as the following:
  1. A form of self-defense.  We are protecting ourselves from the torment of 'facing reality'.
  2. A necessary evil.  Sometimes, facing all things at once is too much.  If  we make a point to deal with a limited amount now and 'pretend' that that we don't need to deal with the other stuff, it can give us the space to deal with what we need to over time.  Such as unwinding an estate.
  3. A way of avoiding dealing with a problem we have.  Our car makes an odd noise, it just doesn't sound right.  Well, if we avoid it, then we don't have to deal with it, so the thought goes.  Likewise, if we have an addiction of some sort or an illness, by denying it we are fooling ourselves into believing it isn't there and/or doesn't have to be dealt with.
  4. An obstacle to tackling problems BEFORE they get too unmanageable.  Again, health, auto or addiction example.
  5. Lying to ourselves and/or keeping secrets from ourselves.  Denial obviously is a mechanism by which we can be untruthful with others, but ultimately, the one(s) we are untruthful with us more than anyone is ourselves and God.
  6. Relying on our own tools rather than on God.
I don't say denial is all bad.  Sometimes, we just can't cope with everything life throws us at once.  For example, I was grieving over the loss of my mom and to a degree of my brother still.  Also, I was dealing with my own surgery as well as other family issues.  In a way, I didn't have the luxury of totally indulging the extent of my dad's failing health.  So, I would do what I would need to on that score with what I had of emotional/spiritual energy.  I let his caregivers step in an do there jobs and one of us would step in from time to time and make sure they were doing there job.   They have seen it often enough to know the process of failing health/dying.  So, they were better equipped to deal.  Denial saved my energy for a time.   However, the time to stop denying crept up on me and with the help of friends, I faced the inevitability of my dad's passing.

The 'lie' that he was going to live indefinitely was useful as a coping mechanism.  But, eventually, it had to give way.   What I found is that surrounded by Godly friends who reminded me of God's role, I didn't have to live in the denial about it.

I guess one take away I have from this all, a little bit of 'denial' for a time can be a coping mechanism, but if we let it out of control and live in it indefinitely, we are avoiding the healing and adjusting.  In terms of spiritual warfare, to let the enemy win all we have to do is do nothing.  To triumph, we face our pains/hurts/demons/secrets with God's help.

In the 12 step programs, it is often said, we are only as sick as our secrets.  It may be cliche, but it is true.  I don't think that that means we have to answer 'do I look big in this dress', but it does mean being true to God, ourselves and others.

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