Cracking Denial

It’s getting closer to spring, but still the weather forecast is calling for snow. Interesting, but I don’t buy it. The little green sprigs amongst the dried twigs in my oregano bush don’t either.

Went to a splendid meeting tonight, and the teaching was on denial. Denial can be a tough nut to crack. It is the first real step on our journey toward better inner health and fellowship with God and one another.

But why does denial sometimes seem so difficult and persistent in our lives? I feel like sometimes we settle for “good enough.” That if we are going to the right meetings, church, doing a good deed or participating in volunteer activities, then maybe it’s okay. And we surely aren’t as bad as “that other person we all know of” who lost their job, went to jail, ended up in the hospital or got divorced because of their addictive behaviors.

If we are surrounded by well-meaning people that love us, they can sometimes reinforce denial in our lives. This actually happened to me live-time. I was in the midst of a horrific relapse and needed help. I was also a part of a fellowship that was not recovery-centric, but faith-based, and I would test the water, ever so carefully, to see if I could “get real” and lay it out there for everyone to see that I was in dire straits. Unfortunately, every time anyone…me or someone else began to go deep with serious issues, the discomfort was palpable. you could see people fidget and become uncomfortable. They would offer quick fix-statements, such as pray more, read more, etc. This tended to reinforce the secrecy and denial of dysfunction versus encourage it’s deconstruction and healing.

To be fair, these groups are not meant for the kind of recovery sharing that will address the serious nature of the problems that an addict or someone with serious dysfunction faces. However, sensitivity to those that share things on this level is vital to the ongoing spiritual and emotional development of all of us that call ourselves Christians and are in relationship with one another. If someone shares a struggle or you can tell they are wrestling with something, it is natural to want to offer a fix-it, because we don’t like to see others suffer. The catch here is, that to watch others suffer causes us discomfort, and our offer of advice to fix them is to ultimately make ourselves feel better.

Interestingly, denial is connected to enabling which is connected to avoidance of pain which is connected to the behavior which is connected to denial. The person who is acting out and is in pain, reaches out for help, the enabler doesn’t like seeing the pain and fixes it for the actor, and the acting out is rewarded or consequence is avoided, and the cycle continues.  Like a dog chasing its tail, we must all decide to break the cycle. And it is hard. For everybody. The person with the behavior or addiction, those enabling, those that are involved in any way. That’s why we need recovery and the fellowship it brings to support each other. No one should try and go it alone.

So glad you’re here. Hope you have a great week!

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