Our relationship began innocently enough; I was writing a book. At home. I could roll out of bed and begin keying in an unfinished sentence from the night before. Yesterday’s yoga pants called to me from the chair where I’d tossed them. Before I knew it, My Honey was home, and I’d nether showered, nor changed from those pants. That’s how I rolled through at least eight chapters.
Yoga pants are comfortable. No zippers. No buttons. That’s the good news. The bad news? No zippers + No buttons = No accountability. A few pounds can slip into place without proper acknowledgement. Before ya know it, the yoga pants are the only pants that fit! That’s a problem.
Welcome to blog post number two in my series on DENIAL.
What is denial? Basically, denial is maintaining that a problem does not exist in spite of evidence to the contrary.
Hindsight tells me I’ve used two types of denial in my yoga pant ordeal. I’ve used minimizing and blaming.
Let’s talk about minimizing for a moment. Minimizing is defined by dictionary.com this way: “Minimize – to reduce to the smallest possible amount or degree.” We maintain that although a problem may exist, it is not very serious.
I totally did that with my recent weight gain. “Oh, it’s just a few pounds. It’s not that big a deal,” I’d whisper unconvincingly to the mirror after realizing that half the clothes in my closet screamed at the seams when I attempted to wear them.
“No problem, I can get this off with a few extra trips to the Y,” I’d promise myself, forgetting to factor in the fact that after forty, the “freshman fifteen” doesn’t budge as easily as it did during college.”
Whenever My Honey wanted to go out for frozen yogurt, pizza or Thai food, I’d minimize my feelings about gaining the weight and go ahead and eat like a teenager anyway. Then I’d come home and immediately put on my yoga pants. “Ahhhhh! That’s better. Please pass the popcorn. I haven’t gained that much.”
Now comes the blaming part: What is blame? Again, dictionary.com says, “Blame is to hold responsible; find fault with; censure.”
Blaming is denial because we refuse to accept personal responsibility for the problem, maintaining that it is someone or something else’s fault. We blame people and circumstances for our own problems or lack. Blame can become a way of life if we are not careful.
I stayed stuck in denial by blaming my husband. “You eat later than I’m used to. That’s why this is happening to me,” I’d say. Part of that statement was true, but he never forced me to eat. I could have had a cup of tea, or made different choices. “You tempt me with sweets that I usually don’t keep in the house,” I’d whine while munching a piece of dark salted caramel chocolate from the stash on top of the fridge. “You served me a huge helping. You didn’t want to share the entrée, so I had to order my own.” You. You. You… Blame. Yeah, I did that.
The truth is, when I am fully surrendered to God, through His power I can choose when, what and how much I eat. No one else has that kind of control over me. Even babies know that. (Try feeding strained carrots to a tiny set of resistant taste buds!)
It’s time to stop minimizing, stop blaming and start owning the fact that I must either buy new pants, or shut my mouth if I want to fit into my old ones. It’s my choice. My decision. My life.
What is it with you? Where are you sinking into the murky waters of denial through minimizing or blaming?
Sometimes our bodies will tell us when we’ve been in denial long before our brains do. Physical symptoms, like weight loss or gain, unexplained illness or pain, migraine headaches and other symptoms with unidentified sources are often the direct result of deep emotional pain, rooted in our lives. When divorce from a chemically dependent spouse became my unexpected reality seven years ago, I was instantly “cured” of debilitating chronic migraines!
Why do we wait so long before acknowledging pain or abuse? I waited until my scales showed a combination of digits I’ve never seen, before snapping out of denial. I waited until I had a grownup meltdown in my closet every time I needed to wear something other than yoga pants. Only then did I get serious about my weight gain.
Maybe it’s not weight with you. Maybe it’s something else that you are in denial about. Think about it. Pray about it. Ask God to reveal it to you before you, like me, have a long, unnecessary road ahead before you are back to “normal.”
If we are consistently doing or using anything to numb, hide, or alleviate emotional or physical pain, we may be in denial of the root of our suffering. That root, if left intact, then grows a trunk and branches and leaves that take many different forms.
These “leaves” can be shaped like shame or poor self-esteem. They may be depression-shaped or look like isolation or anger. Sometimes they resemble powerlessness or even suicidal behavior, but they are all just symptoms of some underlying root that needs to be exposed.
That “root” may be abuse or neglect that we have suffered at the hand of others. The root could also be sin in our lives. With me, it was both.
I was sinning in my yoga pants. We’ll talk more about that next time. Until then, may I invite you to join me in taking Recovery Step 1? It says, “We admitted we were powerless over our compulsions, obsessions and addictions, and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Father in heaven, I’m coming to you today because somewhere I got off the right track, and I realize that only You can redeem the things I’ve lost (or gained). Forgive me for minimizing my problem and for blaming You or others for what I know is my responsibility. I surrender myself to You and admit that I am powerless over my compulsions, obsessions and addictions. This area of my life has become unmanageable. I am powerless. I need Your power. In Jesus’ name, amen.