One tiny little word with huge repurcussions.
There are millions of stories about the strength of the human body and mind out there that we’ve all heard or told or been a part of. However, I’m willing to bet there are equally as many stories about people who can never really face life and hurts and truths. There are many of us who aren’t strong enough to handle life and everything that comes with it. We’re the people who make denial our best friends.
We become master pretenders and it keeps us safe. Or so we think.
I’ve grown up in a family of people who are in denial about a lot of things a lot of the time….and are well aware of it…but choose it anyway.
I know a lot of expert level pretenders.
For years we’ve called a full blown alcoholic just someone who likes to have a drink. We’ve pretended that our family is perfection and that we could out-love the Waltons when in fact we rarely speak to or even see each other. We bury loved ones and walk away pretending it never happened. We hold in feelings better than the Hoover Dam holds in water. We are professional happy fakers when it comes to some of the major things in life that a person goes through.
I’ve been a witness to denying that huge things like pregnancies and adoptions and affairs haven’t happened when we all know damn well they have. I’ve watched my extended family pretend that a diagnosis of a body riddled with cancer isn’t a death sentence. I’ve seen the men in my family lose brothers and parents without so much as a tear cried because they can’t admit that it hurts and that they are in pain.
I’ve seen way too many of those same men in my family deny physical pain and ailments – until it is absolutely too late.
The emotion behind physical and mental pains in my family have always remained undealt with. They will freely admit they literally cannot deal with any kind of pain so they deny it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Never speak of it. Make themselves forget it.
I’ve seen all my aunts and uncles deny that their own mother had Alzheimer’s. They’d tell themselves and others that it was an act – not a real disease she’d one day die from. And they’d run away. They could not spend time with her or take care of her…they could only run away and pretend everything was okay.
When their younger brother took his own life at a young age, they buried him and never spoke of him again. If you didn’t utter his name, it didn’t happen. You can’t speak of such a disgusting tragedy much less acknowledge it or cry over it because then you might have to admit it happened under your watch and that the pain could kill you if you let it.
For me, I convinced myself it didn’t happen. I never saw a body and I made myself believe he had just left…and some day he’d be back. I saw him everywhere. In crowds. In my dreams. Everywhere. Because I was in denial that he was dead. Such a destructive way to not deal with my pain…but I was taught well.
Let’s all pretend we’re not dysfunctional and hope like hell we’re right, you know?
It’s seriously crazy. The amount of things people in general deny. Affairs and betrayals right in front of their very eyes. Physical signs of a bigger health problem that we pass off as nothing. Deep unhappiness in our souls regarding our jobs or lives.
We deny ourselves love and the right to be exactly who we are – a lot. To fit in. To make someone else happy. To be accepted. To not have to deal with the pain that comes with being authentic sometimes.
It’s all bullshit and I wish it could stop. Sometimes I want to scream:
If you wouldn’t have denied the pain – we’d have found the cancer sooner and you could have lived!
If you could have accepted that she was going to die – then you could have actually said goodbye!
If you could admit that you are overweight and you need help – then maybe we could help you get healthy!
If you could stop denying that you can’t face your childhood, then maybe we could move on in adulthood!
If you could stop denying that he’s dead – maybe we could grieve properly and actually find peace!
And the list goes on and on. People are definitely strong but I think every person is equally as weak. There are certain things we can never say out loud or face or accept – so we learn to deny ourselves the truth.
I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be 100% authentic about every single one of my physical and mental feelings every day. It’s so much easier to deny…and it comes naturally.
From “nope – the pain in my head I’m starting to feel is NOT a migraine” to “nah – I’m not holding on to 20 years of anger and bitterness regarding my childhood”.
I think as I age, I deny less though. It just becomes pointless to keep pretending and as I get older, I have learned it doesn’t work. In the long run – the denials still remain truths. I can pretend that someone I loved isn’t really dead but the fact is that I’m still here – living every day without them – and grieving for them and accepting they are gone at some point takes less energy than keeping up the façade.
People don’t like truth. I mean everyone always says they want the truth and they don’t want the lies and denial and pretending but I think that in itself is a lie. I’ve been saying the truth more and more to my loved ones lately – about the past. The transgressions. The things I have screwed up and done wrong. How it made me feel. How it appears. How denying has left me broken. How pretending has brought me nothing but pain.
And they don’t like to hear it. If they hear my truth – they have to deal with their own or the fact that my pain and my truth – is partly their fault.
And no one wants to be at fault. Or take blame. Or hurt. Or face the truth.
It isn’t easy but it does feel freeing. When I say a truth out loud that I haven’t in years it seems like a double whammy at times….because I have to deal with that truth for me and then I have to watch how that truth affects the person I am telling and I have to deal with their reaction.
I’m just tired of faking it. So, so incredibly tired of pretending that there isn’t disease and hurt and pain and mental and physical inadequacies everywhere and more importantly – right in front of me.
Shit. Even the Walton’s got sick sometimes, right? And Mountain Dew didn’t exist back then so they had to be sad quite often, yes?
Yes. I think so. Ain’t nobody who can avoid death or pain or lies or betrayals or hurts…so why the hell do we keep pretending that they don’t exist? Why do we think we can deny the pain away?
Probably because facing the pain seems unbearable. And we doubt our own strength to deal with the truth of every situation.
And because we’ve been taught. To deny the truth, pretend life is bliss, fake it until you make it, laugh when we want to cry and always carry a huge broom with which to sweep things under the rug with.
I’m just saying the f*cking broom is heavy sometimes.
And it doesn’t match my outfits so much anymore.
And besides that…my hands are full with purses.
Brooms are so last season. Right?