Some people are good at cooking. Others are good at sports, painting, gardening, housekeeping… or any of the million other things one can excel at. I’m good at a few things myself – writing, in particular. But what I’m learning is that I’m also really, really good at something I hadn’t realized before now: denial.
This week has been particularly revelatory for me regarding this talent of mine. The only way I can describe it is that it feels as if I’ve just woken up after a few years’ snooze to discover my life in shambles. Okay, shambles might be too strong a word. Extraordinary disarray, then. I came to, and realized that I’d quite literally fallen asleep on the job that is my life.
But oh, I had my reasons, believe me.
When my marriage ended a few years back, it seems that the vigilant, self-minding part of me took to my metaphorical bed, in essence. I’d spent years battling depression and stress and unhappiness, and now that my life had finally imploded as I’d anticipated and feared, I just kind of… checked out. And so, in three years time, the 1914 Four-Square house I own and live in – which was already in need of significant TLC – fell into almost epic disrepair. My physical body grew unhealthy and sick, because I’d stopped taking care of myself. And, perhaps most significantly, I’d delayed and/or avoided anything and everything that was stressful or unpleasant during that whole time frame – including finalizing my divorce.
And after living in this state of suspended animation -slash- arrested development for three years… well, you can probably imagine what I’m dealing with now. I’m struggling with feeling overwhelmed by it all. Where do you begin with reconstructing your life when even the base physical parts – your home, your body – seem to be falling apart, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological wreckage that still needs to be sifted through?
This is where I am today: I’m wide awake, it’s morning, but the allure of crawling back into bed and pulling the covers up over my head again is POWERFUL.
I’m fighting to stay in the moment and deal with one small thing at a time. Finalizing my divorce is a huge priority, and we now have the last of the paperwork in the hands of lawyers — after a final review by them, there’s just signing and filing to be done. That’s something. A huge something. I’ve been creating lists of Physical Things To Be Done, too – from tree trimming to painting to deck repair – but those lists have become sort of terrifying because there’s just so much and only one me, and where would the money come from, anyway?
But this is life. And there’s no way around The Real, The Truth. Not that I didn’t try to get around it, of course, because god knows I did. But denial is a form of self-enslavement, one wherein you bind yourself to unstable illusions which invariably evaporate. Truth, on the other hand, is a hard slog to be sure, but - as the cliche goes – it will set you free. Just not until it’s finished with you.*
How have you dealt with unpleasant truths and gotten past the lure of denial in your own life? When things seem overwhelming, how do you find peace in what seems like debilitating chaos? I’m looking for advice – you know, for a friend. COUGH.
(*nod to DFW)
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