Some Honesty About Denial...
Why is it so hard to be honest with ourselves? We know the truth deep down - why do we deny and make up all sorts of shit to cover that up? Seems like a lot of effort - wouldn’t it just be easier to accept whatever reality is in front of us and just be honest about it?
Denial functions to soften the blow. Makes it seem like whatever we are experiencing isn’t so bad or won’t last that long or will be different soon. It helps us to bear the unbearable. Helps us to not be despondent all the time.
Denial is a coping mechanism, for sure, but one that appears to be overused and really not all that useful. Denial helps us stay with people who are not right for us - helps us to lie to ourselves and those around us - helps us to ignore things that are either already issues or will be soon.
I think that denial is effective only to get us through acute trauma - someone is hurting you and denial allows you to survive the event so that you can begin to recover from the trauma. In almost every other situation - denial keeps us stuck and makes life harder...for everyone.
Imagine if you did not tell yourself this amazing story about the guy you just met. Imagine if you were spared denial. What if you could just be honest about whatever it was you saw, felt, thought? I think we would all spare ourselves a lot of pain.
It might go like this:
You meet a guy that you are not really attracted to but you have been alone for awhile and everyone is asking you why you haven’t met someone because you are amazing and should be able to find a partner.
Denial is invited in immediately. Denial covers up that you are not ok alone. Denial covers up that you are happy being alone. Denial covers up whether you really like this new guy or not.
Feels like denial is like a waxy buildup. It covers over who we really are and makes us duller less lustery versions of ourselves.
Denial is attached to what we fear. Denial comes in as a way of dealing with fear without really doing anything to combat it. Fear is still there it just has a better more acceptable cover now. Denial is softer and allows you to stay more comfortable for longer but it misses the point: you are made comfortable in a situation that isn't good for you to begin with...
Honesty is much more brutal. Honesty tells you that you aren’t really ok being alone and that you want to be with someone - you are tired of being alone and you feel like a loser since it has been so long since you had a good relationship. Honesty also tells you that you are not a loser - you have some self respect and are no longer ok with allowing just anyone in your life. Honesty tells you that while you are lonely, you are ok. Honesty points out that maybe you are really just afraid to be you. Honesty tells you that you are not attracted to this guy and that taking this one step further is a problem. Honesty allows you to not kid yourself and to be ok with what is really happening instead of believing the fancy story denial is always spinning. Honesty spares us a lot of trouble in the long run, if we listen.
Honesty helps us to be authentic and to keep us from living a lie. Honesty just doesn’t feel all that great. It isn’t comfortable - denial is the warm bed and honesty is the asshole who pulls off all your covers on a cold morning. Staying in the warm bed is much more comfortable but you aren’t going to get a lot out of your life lying there hiding in the cozy warmth. Honesty yanks the comfortable away - gets you out of the bed and into the shower. Honesty gets us fucking moving. Which is way better than staying in the dysfunction - it is just never going to feel that way.
I think the best way to be honest with ourselves and others is to make a conscious choice to be uncomfortable. We won’t be able to pick that every time but a commitment to being honest will keep us on the path when we chose comfort over growth on occasion. It is ok to want to be comfortable, the problem comes when we insist that comfort is the goal and anything outside of comfort is not right or good. Comfort is a relaxing place where nothing ever really happens by definition. Comfort begets denial because who the fuck would ever want to leave comfort? Me, I do. I want to pick uncomfortable every time. I want to face the brutal honest truth all the time. I need denial's comfort just long enough to harden my resolve and get me back out there again.