Denial

January 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s on my mind again. It was probably a good ten years ago, I was taking the one and only lecture on eating disorders that I took during my studies. The professor said something about bulimics/anorexics recovering and then being in a relationship with an authority figure. I sat up straighter in my chair and listened much more closely, and then I thought to myself: “Oh, but my case is different.”

Back in 1984 I was “in the rooms” — both Overeaters and Alcoholics Anonymous had good meetings. They say one shouldn’t make any major decisions until one has been in recovery/abstinent for at least one year. I had a few months scraped together and left my cosy apartment to move in with my boyfriend in Europe. (The same authority figure I later married. Oops!) Back then I thought to myself: “Oh, but my case is different.”

I’ve heard people say that the way a man treats his mother can give you a good idea of how he’ll treat his wife. In fact, I heard that after we’d been going together for just a year or two. (I was not impressed at all by the way he treated his mother.) Back then I didn’t think to myself. No, I did something even smarter! I asked him if he thought that was true. He didn’t.

Then there’s a long list of things that I thought, if I could just do this or that, then things would be better. I preferred that approach to dealing with various issues straight out. I kind of knew intuitively that it’s better to deal with things openly rather than make it all complicated. But even then I said to myself: “But this is different.”

“Denial” was a foreign concept to me in the early stages, when I did little more than dabble with recovery. At meetings people often mentioned denial. I smiled and nodded like I knew what they were talking about. Now I think I know what it means. I’m tired of pretending it doesn’t apply to me. Or even better: “This is not really happening.” Or: “He doesn’t really mean it that way.” Or: “If you ignore it, it will go away eventually.”

I’m tired of co-pretending as well. What’s co-pretending? One example: I’ve known for quite some time that my marriage is over. Yet even just a few months ago, when my husband suggested things would be better if we did activities together, I smiled noncommittally, knowing inside that I don’t WANT to spend time together. There’s still that nice little girl lurking in there. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but she rather exaggerated the point. I think this course in communication that I’m starting next month will be quite beneficial on a personal level. In the meantime, I try to focus on the moment, be aware, and not “think” so much!

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