So on Friday the Honey and I are grocery shopping. A woman with three kids clinging to her cart recognizes him and we stop for introductions. After answering her question about how long we’d been married, I brace myself. It’s coming. I just know it is. Get ready to smile and play it off.
“Any kids yet?” And…there it is. Sometimes I wish I were a betting woman. The words rolled innocently off her tongue, transforming themselves into daggers that I quickly deflected with humor before they could reach any soft tissue. Whew. That was close. Moving on to the produce section. No pun intended.
On Saturday night a couple of young mothers from church are hosting “Moms’ Night Out,” complete with the movie by the same title. I’m thinking I’m not a mom. I might just skip this one. You know, slide under the radar and stay home with the Honey. Then I get a personal invitation and a little push from the Hon. “Go on. You’ll enjoy hanging out with the girls.” So I go.
And I’m okay. Really. It was fun! How can you go wrong with popcorn, Twizzlers and theatre-sized boxes of peanut M&Ms in the house? The mommies seemed a little naked without their little ones on their hips, but the dads did great (unlike the movie), and no one had to leave early to relieve them.
Today a friend asked me point blank, no warning, “So how are you doing with the whole kids thing?” Granted, the question was asked in the kindest of tones and by the sweetest of persons, but I wasn’t ready for it. No time to grab my arsenal of codependent denial patterns. All I could blurt was the truth. “I’m in a sad place right now. I feel like I’m giving up on my dream.”
The truth, God? Seriously? Wow. I wasn’t expecting to blurt the truth. My 12 Step group would be proud. I didn’t hide in denial. I just admitted I am powerless. Step 1. Here I am again.
I was planning to blog a mini-series on denial and Step 1. Did a couple of pieces last week on this topic. I just wasn’t planning to use myself as the guinea pig. Nope. That wasn’t what I had in mind. Guess God had other plans. He does this sometimes – Just keeps repeating Himself until I admit that He’s talking to me. I usually get it on the third time around.
Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Three in a row. If this is a Tic-Tac-Toe game, God, You win!
In my research for this blog series, I discovered these Denial Patterns we may develop in order to survive:
- I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
- I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
- I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
- I lack empathy for the feelings or needs of others.
- I label others with my negative traits.
- I can take care of myself without any help from others.
- I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
- I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
- I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am attracted. (Codependency for Dummies p. 73)
(Anyone else see themselves reflected in a bullet point or two?)
Careforce Ministries states this about denial:
Denial can also be cloaked through minimizing (maintaining that although a problem may exist it is not as serious as everyone thinks), and avoidance (changing the subject; burying oneself in other activities).
Denial protects us from situations we may not be psychologically ready to handle. Sometimes that is necessary, but we cannot stay stuck there, continuing to use denial as a coping mechanism.
We must become unstuck and by God’s grace face our issue, our pain… our heartache head on. Sometimes that hurts worse than the dull ache of denial. We’ll need support. Prayer. Courage to grind through the pain with God until He grants us “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr). Take heart! He promises us that with Him, all things are possible. Even this.
So, here I am, God. I’m not laughing. Not avoiding. Not hiding in busyness. I refuse to minimize, alter, or hide how I truly feel. I choose to be real through this season. Please show me how to answer those innocent questions with tact and honesty. Give me space to grieve the death of another dream. How you will redeem this thing I feel I have lost? Do not let any root of envy or bitterness grow inside of me. Keep me close as we work this out together. Amen.
P.S. Please use this piece of painful transparency to touch another life and let them know that they, too, can step out of denial into the pain and that You will go with them through the valley.