7 Signs You Could Be in Denial
If anyone had told me I was in denial, I quite literally would have denied it.
After all, how could someone in marriage counseling be kidding herself? Less we forget, a marketer who has the ability to connect the dots…a writer who researches her topics…an insightful analyzer…a woman who discusses her problems openly.
Nope, not me. I was not in denial.
I offered up prettier labels for my emotional stonewall.
I wasn’t in denial I was simply being ‘positive.’ I wasn’t refusing the truth I was being ‘hopeful.’ I wasn’t unaware my marriage was failing I was ‘tenacious.’ I wasn’t fooling myself I was ‘saving’ my family. I wasn’t rescuing someone I was accepting none of us are ‘perfect.’
I shamelessly rejected the notion of being in any degree of denial.
But here’s the thing. These seven somewhat annoying behaviors began to creep into my otherwise sunny personality.
Sure, I was frustrated enough to talk about my husband’s bad behavior. But if anyone else did that was a different story.
My response was on autopilot, “He’s a good person in a bad place,” I would say.
It was an odd Yin and yang. I wanted people to understand what I was going through since I was miserable. And I even wanted them to agree with me — to a point.
But not so far as saying it was time for me to move on.
And if anyone suggested it, I could launch into a plethora of seemingly ‘appropriate excuses’ for why I chose to remain. And I would alternate between making my choice sound completely plausible or getting angry or defensive for anyone proposing it.
I wholeheartedly hung onto the premise our marriage wasn’t broken it just needed repair.
If my husband stopped the bad behavior. If he listened to our marriage counselor we would be fine. I had made it abundantly clear I was willing to stay and fight for our relationship despite what he was doing.
This could be fixed. Or dare I say, ‘he could be fixed.’
Because therein lies the problem.
You can’t fix someone. They have to want to address their own behavior.
Thus, my tenacity buoyed my denial.
I became angry. I would say even bitter. The more I refused to believe I was in ‘denial’ the longer I stayed in a bad relationship.
Now I was the one exhibiting bad behavior.
Never mind that it was in response to another’s bad behavior.
I was still responsible for remaining and preventing this from happening.
My initial voice of concern escalated to tears then to overtalking and then yelling.
Anger isn’t becoming. It isn’t pretty. And when the wounds stem from love it is even uglier.
I became so stressed I could barely concentrate.
There was always a fire to put out. This relationship was broken and therefore, it was in need of perpetual emotional triage.
I couldn’t seem to get my husband’s attention. I couldn’t seem to get him to care. I was one person attempting to keep a family together.
I was one person trying to save two.
I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t withstand staying. I couldn’t think straight.
Denial allowed me to give my husband far too many chances. As well as the enabler in me.
I just kept getting upset and then eventually looking the other way.
Some would call it tolerance or patience. But in truth, enablers are overly caring people who forgive the same bad behavior over and over again.
It’s terribly difficult for enablers to leave.
That caring aspect makes them worry about every possible scenario and how it will impact those they love. It also makes them extraordinarily attached to those they love. Enablers lack the type of protective boundaries that make other people say ‘enough is enough.’
My signature Joie de Vivre evaporated.
I was completely miserable and misery has an unfortunate way of creeping outside of you.
The stress and unhappiness became too much to hide.
I didn’t want my marriage to end. I didn’t want this to be my reality. I rejected it. I denied it. I fought it.
I loved my husband. I loved being a family. I didn’t want my boys to be the children of divorce. I didn’t want to repeat history.
And the biggest truth?
I had stayed in a deteriorating relationship for so long it had become even harder to abandon it. The long-standing denial weakened me.
My life had spun out of control.
The pattern in my marriage was my husband behaved badly and then I reacted. Then he reacted to me reacting. Then I begged him to stop and address the problems. In turn, he would deny the problem. Then I would escalate.
It was a destructive cycle. Yet, we hadn’t always lived this way so I chose to believe the cycle would one day stop.
If only he cared enough to do so.
But as I always say, “When you have to ask someone to care about you, they’re already telling you they don’t.”
Excuses, Extreme Fixing, Anger, Stress, Extreme Forgiveness, Misery — the list of those words alone evokes a feeling of chaos.
Together they resulted in making my world feel out of control.
Until ultimately, I could no longer protect myself with denial.
This is the essence of denial.
Protection from an unwanted reality in our lives. A refusal to hear and accept our own personal truth.
It is a desperate attempt to scare away emotional monsters.
That will not stop visiting us until we acknowledge their presence.