Could that have anything to do with why Other People shake their heads, and express amazement that you ‘just can’t see what’s going on and walk away’?
Is Denial something you’ve even stopped to think about?
If you haven’t, perhaps you should.
Original it ain’t, but it still merits repetition: “Denial is not a river in Egypt”. Rather, it’s a highly addictive behaviour.
It starts insignificantly enough; an incident occurs which you would have rather hadn’t happened; words are spoken by your emotionally abusive partner that are cruel and contemptuous, words you would not have wished to hear; a behaviour appears that you weren’t expecting, which is hurtful and dismissive…
Suddenly you’re emotionally abusive husband labels you ‘to blame’, though you probably aren’t too sure what for. You may even feel that his accusations are nonsensical, but he takes them very, very seriously.
Then it’s gone again. Things revert to ‘normality’, the ‘blip’ is explained away, or simply not mentioned again. There may be an apology – but equally there may not – you may be told that you’re making too much of something meaningless; or maybe although it ‘won’t happen again’ (his undertaking), you somehow provoked it (your fault).
And you look at this man in whom you’ve already invested so much emotion (and self-worth) and you really want to believe him. You probably need to believe him. So you find an explanation, or justification, for what happened: he was tired, or stressed, or worried, or jealous or drunk… and somehow you managed to make the situation worse and tip the scales…
That’s how denial starts.
So Denial isn’t a river in Egypt. It’s actually a snowball hurtling down a steep slope, becoming ever bigger and gathering momentum as it goes. Once you’ve started explaining his bad behaviours away, you just keep on doing it, way beyond the dictates of common sense and self-respect. Having put him on a pedestal, you’re left in the mud and slime beneath his plinth; and that is where you
stay, way, way too long.
For the longest time – because whether it is months, years or decades it’s always much too long – it’s your being mired in manure that keeps him smelling of roses.
If only women adhered to the “Three Strikes And You’re Out” law – and by strikes I mean verbal assault as well as physical assault. Unfortunately, we don’t. Once denial
is established, we go into rabbit-in-headlights mode, and fear sets in. Fear can eat away at a person.
I was reminded just how powerful Denial is when I received an email from a woman, which began with the brave words: “I love this man and I know that he loves me.” It went on to say: “He puts me down and makes me feel like I am less than a dog on the street.”
Maybe, just maybe, he does love her some of the time in his own heartless, destructive, dysfunctional way. More likely he’s attached to her in the way that a tic or parasite is attached to what it feeds off. Doubtless he needs her, even more than she believes she needs him.
But it’s not love that he feels in the sense of caring for and being committed to fostering her emotional, spiritual, mental and physical well-being.
A harsh judgement?
Maybe, but an informed one; I’ve been there, done that and still have the T shirt to prove that I tried to survive in a relationship where ‘love’ was often a dead ringer for hate.
If you haven’t been there, you’d think it would be pretty simple to tell love and venomous hate apart. But that’s the beauty of Denial: you genuinely stop being able to see the blindingly obvious.
You can carry on missing the truth, even when it keeps punching and slapping you in the face. You hang on, waiting for what you are desperate to believe will, finally, come into being. It doesn’t, of course.
It pains me deeply to think of any woman throwing away her precious life in this way. Denial is not a river in Egypt. If you’ve ever seen a dog on a length of chain trying futilely to break free, then you know what Denial really looks like, and the damage it does.