Today I share a personal story about how denial may be normal, but it’s not helpful, here’s why …
I’ve been in denial, unfortunately, more times than one, which I will share with you over the course of time, if this is of help and interest to you, just let me know if it is.
The time period was loosely between 1998 and 2001, I can’t remember the exact date I went to my first nor my last meeting, I used to go to Al-Anon. You may or may not know that Al-Anon provides support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking.
And I was in denial about going, and here’s the thing about denial, it’s a circular situation, I couldn’t know I was in denial about going because I was in denial, Oh the Irony.
You see the story I told myself was …
” I CAN’T Tell Anyone I’m going to Al-Anon because then they will know that my life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking, and given that I’d moved from England to Scotland to be with my then partner, and had no family or support near me at the time, the only person that could possibly have a drinking problem would be said partner AND although he didn’t go very often or consistently to AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, if anyone knew I went to Al-Anon there would be no more anonymity for him, and I would have broken trust with him and harmed even further our relationship, and worst of all I would harm his recovery.”
So the moral of the story was …
“I CAN’T Tell Anyone I’m going to Al-Anon because I’m choosing to protect and support my partner.”
You see denial is normal, you tell yourself stories that you think are reasonable, that are based on good judgement, and that any other person would do.
Because your brain likes stories, it likes easy answers, it likes quick solutions, it likes good guys and bad guys and heroes, which is of course what you are in the stories. You can find out about our brains liking stories in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and The Call to Courage with Brené Brown, it’s normal, it’s human nature.
Yet denial isn’t helpful, in fact, denial steals your life
Denial keeps you from speaking your truth freely, you can’t have open honest transparent conversations with people. Imagine the usual Monday morning conversation in the office, that starts with a simple question …
“Did you have a nice weekend?”
I couldn’t say I went to an Al-Anon event in Edinburgh or Peebles or other gorgeous parts of Scotland. I couldn’t say it was a beautiful day, or that I met lovely people, people who were so brave to share their stories (not me, of course, I wasn’t telling my story to anyone). I couldn’t say that I heard inspirational speakers, I feel so privileged to have heard so many stories of hope, trust, love, faith and joy that I am energised and ready for the next part of my life
I couldn’t say any of these things, denial stole this part of my life and it took away my ability to speak my truth.
Denial turned me into a liar ~ maybe that ought to have been the title for this post?
Because it whatever I said instead was a lie, the response to the everyday question ‘Did you have a nice weekend?’ of ‘Yes thank you’ either led to me being thought of as standoffish or rude or led the next natural question of ‘What did you do?’ the reply ‘Oh not much…’ was a lie, and I couldn’t bring myself to make up a fully fledged lie, but you know, a little white lie to protect my partner ….. is still a lie.
It stole these conversations, these interactions with good people, and I was okay because I didn’t know the cost I was paying for being in denial.
Denial is normal and it’s not helpful.
You may not be able to admit that you are in denial, this mostly happens with hindsight.
Start to investigate the conversations you have with yourself. Are you telling lies, white or otherwise to keep trust with someone who is happier because you lie for them? This too could be your partner, it could be your boss, it could be inherited the culture of the organisation you work within.
Are you telling lies, white or otherwise to keep your situation from getting worse?
Are you telling lies, white or otherwise to keep someone else’s situation from getting worse?
I encourage you to start to see where denial is stealing your life and decide when you are ready to start telling the truth, start calling denial out and then you can move forward into a relationship, job, career, an environment in which you can flourish and speak your truth freely at all times.
Comment below and let me know in what ways you have been in denial.
I wish you every success.
Love Karen xx