“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” ―
Oh, but how I have tried Mr Hemingway! The art of denial is something mastered over years, often with a fierce interplay of negative self-talk, bashing of the brain and a newly-painted face mask to hide the craziness that is slowly infiltrating behind the eyes.
We live in a world of denial – it allows us to create time and space to gather our thoughts, select the pace we wish to work at, and hide under the covers ready to one day grab our big-bollocks to face the fear. I doubt I am the only one. Most people, given the choice to face a hideous and terrifying truth or to conveniently avoid it, choose the convenience and peace of normality – thus denial is born.
Denial is the lid on our emotional pressure cooker: the longer we leave it on, the more pressure we build up. Sooner or later, that pressure is bound to pop the lid, and we have an emotional crisis. – Susan Forward
As a child, I lived through various forms of denial, but interestingly, the one that tends to rear it’s little head (every so often) is around sexuality. I lived for years in denial – do I or don’t I love women? Do I or don’t I love men? This couldn’t be clearer than my bedroom walls adorned with Kylie and Jason posters – ohhhh who to choose! Having faced this demon of old, I find it fascinating that I often feel the repeat offender being called to the courts for judgement – mainly the judgement coming from my own stories, expectations, morals, beliefs and fears.
Take for example the simple act of holding someone’s hand in public – i.e. your better-looking other-half (atleast that is what your other half calls themselves 🙂 ). I did not manage to hold someone of the same-sexes hand in public until I was 30! And even then, I hated it. I still hate it – because it is easier in those moments to deny who I am and receive a better response from onlooking eyes by not holding hands than it is to hold the one you love. As for kissing in public – don’t even get me started. All of it makes me incredibly uneasy – but sometimes, I force myself to at least push that boundary – to either establish if I was right in the first place to retreat and wave the white flag of forgiveness from society, God and the mama-almighty OR realise that I am stronger than I think and that MOST people actually couldn’t give a flying fuck whose hand I hold.
What I have realised is that denial does not solve the problem. Denial does not make the problem go away. Denial does not give us peace of mind, which is what we are really seeking when we engage in it. Denial is a liar that keeps us chained away from the actual solution we need.
A couple of weeks ago I resigned from my job. It probably wasn’t the best timing, however, I have lived through many times in my life whereby I waited hoping life would change, only to realise I needed to be the change.
I have spent much of my life in relationships or jobs thinking ‘this is my lot’ and ‘I picked this so deal’ and ‘I can’t do better than this anyway’ that I became trapped and unhappy. Those scenarios were a reminder of the lies I told myself to keep myself trapped – because it required me to compare whether it was easier to stay, live in denial, and feel pain OR leave, feel the pain, but live.
I promised myself, having found the courage to change years ago, that should similar scenarios arise again, I wouldn’t wait this time for the numerous years of pain. That, although the change would be hard, I needed to have the belief that I would get through it and be happy.
Like any good story, the ending is sometimes not what you expect. Having discussed the unhappiness of work at home, and the dreams and aspirations that I had, I believed (maybe wrongly), that happiness far outweighed any other area (financially being viable of course). With head held high, and courageous balls finally at the ready, I delivered the news of my resignation to my boss.
What I didn’t plan for was the change of heart from home and impending questions of my sanity, or feared insanity, from others close by.
You see, history has a way of repeating itself – whether we like to see it or not (again part of our denial illusionist nature). For previously, some of my most courageous changes have come at the extreme depths of despair and depression – of hitting rock bottom with a limited view of the top, let alone life. Therefore, many people had linked a HUGE decision of change by me as a part of my insane mind – linking the two like tweedle dee and dumb! I will leave you to decide which is dumb!
However, having worked through years of that ‘stuff’ and even with those around me knowing of these magical changes – it was easier STILL to label the insane and grab the straight jacket than it was to harness the vulnerability, courage and power to succeed.
Having said that, when you are faced with a requirement to display courage, it often halts others in their own personal tracks as it amplifies their own issues and insecurities. Often this is then projected onto the courageous one in order to box, detain, and safely return to a world of normality where the earth will continue to rotate and be hunky-dory!
Needless to say, to appease the masses, I decided to withdraw my resignation. Sometimes it isn’t about giving up but selecting the battles. The difference from history is that the battle isn’t over; one day the dreams and aspirations will come, it is a matter of timing and rebuilding of self-belief and courage. Sometimes we take knocks, sideway dance shuffles even, but that doesn’t mean we are down and out – if anything it means we are just getting started. The unfortunate part is knowing that some folk will be lost on the way.
How do I know this? I had to draw on strength of who I used to be. Would I class myself as being the UFC Champ of courage – FUCK NO! However, I have a little more about me than I used to. Even in previous years, when I wasn’t as strong, I somehow still found the strength to leave a relationship, when the easiest thing would have been to ‘accept my lot’ and stay fighting because it was ‘expected’ by others and likewise this was ‘my choice in the first place – so deal’. I firmly believed I did not deserve better.
However, I had to realise that by staying, I was not only stopping my heart from truly living but theirs too and that if I had any feelings what-so-ever of kindness towards them and myself, I had to leave. They too needed and deserved someone who gave 100%, not an okay percent. I realised we both deserved better regardless of the initial pain of leaving.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”―
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, courage is fear walking. But fear walking leads to so much more than we ever could dream possible.
Life is too short not to be happy and to live it being ‘okay’ with just ‘okay’. And if you are happy with okay – then that is okay too. But if you question it, even the tiniest amount, ask yourself Why.
Why can’t all aspects of life be magical? Why can’t we all have the lives, travels, loves, and losses we wish to experience? Knowing, with a true heart and self-belief that, if it doesn’t work out – that’s okay because some new giant leaps of happiness are just around the corner.
Every dewdrop of happiness that we receive is one more beautiful part filling up our soul’s energy.
To deny ourselves TRUE happiness and love is to deny our soul’s true experience of living – denial stops everything, like a river dam full of wind chopped trees. Our lives become blocked, with surges of water trying to push us through to feel, traverse and see something else enlightening further down the stream.
Our voice, our courage, allows us to move those trees and feel the ripples of water, bask in the smell of the rainfall, and softly touch the land as it moves against our skin.
In those moments we become alive and ride the kayak of life as it should be paddled – wholehearted, free, and radiant.
“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.” ―