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.