Sunday, June 24, 2012

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt

As much as I talk about being real and genuine, I am continually amazed at how quickly I can slip into a mind-set that minimizes situations and cleverly hides them or disguises them so that I won't recognize them for what they are.

It's called denial.  

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Like this last week.  I had a scratchy throat last Saturday and thought, "Oh, it's nothing.  I'll get over it."  Sunday morning - I still hadn't gotten over it.  Six hours of singing later, I was worse - the throat was SORE.  "It was all that singing," I told myself.  Still I struggled with it for two more days before finally giving in and taking a sick day from work... looking after myself helped, but the cough was getting worse and let's not talk about the phlegm.  Very annoying.  Still, I chalked it up to irritation and having to talk a lot on Monday after singing so much on Sunday.  I just didn't want it to be viral.  Or an infection. My wishing that it wasn't viral didn't make it not viral.  Duh.

It wasn't until my husband woke up this morning with the same symptoms I had several days ago that I finally admitted it.  I had gotten a case of the common cold.  Oh drat.  I hate being sick.  And that was precisely why I was running from the idea.  It didn't make me any less sick - and I probably spread my germs to more people: friends, co-workers ... as a result.  And now HE's sick.  Which is a bummer because when he gets sick, he gets SICK.  No whiney "man-cold" (you know, oh honey I'm sick, could you get me this or that) for him; he likes being totally alone when he's ill, suffers in silence and bears watching as a result. After all, he's a pneumonia survivor, so when he gets a cold, I go into that eagle-eye surveillance mode in case the congestion gets into the bronchia. If it does, then it's off to the doctor for a heavy dosing of antibiotic.  

But I digress.  Denial of what's really happening can be dangerous not only in the physical realm but also in the emotional one.  I've actually seen angry people try to tell me they're not angry while they're shouting at me.  (I've also tried that trick a time or a hundred, with others, with myself, and even with God!)  It doesn't work; it just gets pushed down underground and re-surfaces in another way - either against another person who has done nothing wrong, or perhaps the body attacks itself and the person becomes sick.  Modern researchers tell us that emotions are not bad in themselves but if they are suppressed - shoved down and not allowed to be acknowledged or expressed - they can cause anything from high blood pressure to stomach ulcers to cancer. 

Unpleasant emotions aren't bad. They just ARE.  They are designed to alert us to what is going on inside, where we think and relate to ourselves, to God, and to others.  So being honest and admitting the anger (or whatever the unpleasant emotion is) goes a long way toward helping us deal with it.  Once admitted, the next question becomes, "Why?"  

Why is a great question, contrary to what some folks think. Curiosity is to be commended, not squashed!  Another way I ask myself the 'why question' is this: "Where is this coming from?" and I refuse to give myself a pat answer like, "the devil." (Oh please. he gets a lot of blame for stuff that is the result of our own choices...) I have to sit with it and really look at it - remember when I've felt this way before and try to make a connection.  There usually is one for me - a deeper connection that stems from how I relate to God, to myself, or to others. 

Exploring that connection can lead me to a better understanding of my place in the world and in relationship with the people in it, including myself.  Instead of living in denial, I can live in reality, in truth, and in happiness.

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