Denial

The longest river in the world?

There are often jokes made around denial, probably mainly to deflect the reality of the idea.  We go into denial for all kinds of reasons, many of which we have no real clue about — possibly from something quite trivial in our early life that we made mean something of monumental proportions.  Waiting for that lightbulb moment when realisation dawns — or not.

Perhaps it’s the way we are raised in our society, but we seem to be constantly comparing ourselves to others.  Using others as a yardstick of how we should behave, be, not be, or whatever.

Yet the comparisons we make are like comparing apples to pears — a totally unrealistic comparison because unlike a controlled scientific experiment, there really is nothing compare.

Recently — like last week — I uncovered a classic case of denial within myself.   For months I’ve been occasionally wheezing, having uncontrollable coughing fits with no cough or cold associated.  I’d brush them off making comments like “If I didn’t know any better I’d say I had asthma!”  And then go on my merry way doing my everyday stuff and not giving it much thought.

My mother developed asthma in her sixties and was in a constant battle for the remaining twenty odd years of her life with chronic asthma attacks, hospitalisation and loads of medications.  There was no way I was going to be lumped into that category, so I continued on — even carrying an inhaler to make things easier although I didn’t really need to use it much. Truly — it was just a precaution.

Then, last week when I was propped up in the treatment room at the doctors surgery, with the nurse (who is of a similar vintage to me) helping me to use an inhaler (properly) to ease my first acute asthma attack.  I was making — in between panting and puffing — some vague reasons/excuses why I hadn’t done anything about this before.  She looked at me and said very bluntly “Your’e in denial!”

I laughed around my wheezes, politely agreeing and continued my struggle with breathing.

But later it hit home — really resonated with me when I stopped to think about what she’d said.  I’ve had lots of time to think in the past week, not being allowed to do anything much at all.

She was right.  I have been in denial.  I’d been comparing myself to my mother and because I didn’t like what I’d seen, I was attempting to pretend that I couldn’t possibly be anything like her.

However, when I accept that I’d been in denial and that perhaps I really should have done something long before it got to this. I can also see why I did it.  Sometimes it’s much easier to just keep on going and not really pay attention to too many details.  Life gets so busy that we can’t afford to take the time out to navel-gaze and analyse our lives.  Or we are really too afraid to take that step because it might just make sense.

So yes, I can accept that I am like my mother in so many ways — I’m her child after all.  But my life experiences have been vastly different to hers, and because of that my current reality is going to be much different to what hers was.  However, I do have to accept the genetic component which is probably not something I can control.

So now I’ve moved to the opposite end of the scale — to acceptance and I’m searching within to see if there are any other things I might be in denial about.

This navel-gazing is an interesting concept when you’ve got nothing but time on your hands.

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Playing Small

I recently had a slight setback health-wise, nothing major — in fact quite small really.  However the slightest deviation from what we perceive as normal in our bodies can make a major difference to how we approach our lives in general.

My elbow was injured.  It was sore — really sore and such a nuisance because it affected a lot of what I did.  I was constantly conscious of it as it hurt  every time I moved my arm, and it was especially painful when I was in bed, as I’d go to roll over and use my arm then whoa there — that hurts.

So I became rather focused on one part of my body, almost obsessed about it. It appeared to be my only focus at times to the detriment of other areas of my life.

I began thinking about my reaction to such a small inconvenience.  And thats all it was — an irrelevant inconvenience, but I had made it into something much bigger.  Poor me!

So then I asked myself if there was anytime else in my life that I was allowing to keep me small, that was stopping me from achieving greater things.

Last weekend I attended a workshop on public speaking, which I did because I knew the presenter and I had attended one other of her sessions and enjoyed it.  I enrolled because I thought that I might get something out of it that would benefit a business I run.

So a really early morning start on a Saturday morning, getting out of my comfort zone and grumbling to myself that it would be nicer to stay in bed and then have my usual leisurely weekend breakfast.

Five minutes into the first session I had an epiphany.

I realised that what I had come for wasn’t nearly as important as another area in my life. It occurred to me that I had been playing small, really small in the area of marketing my book.  My intentions when I wrote the book were to get the message out there that we all have a role to play in the prevention of suicide.  It was written because I didn’t want Kelly to be just another statistic on the register of deaths by suicide.  So I didn’t play small when I wrote the book, it just evolved.  I found so many reasons why I didn’t have the time to devote to it, and when I look at it like that I have been minimising the importance of the message I set out to deliver.

The breakthrough was being able to admit I’d been playing small and that there is only one person who can do anything about it — me.

Once I had come to that realisation, then it seems everything makes sense again.  I have a purpose, but more importantly a commitment to fulfil.  A commitment I made over a decade ago that I now know I will make.

In a few days time it will be the seventeenth anniversary of Kelly’s death.  So it seems only fitting that I begin the next year honouring Kelly.

Where are you playing small in your life??