Denial

If you read my previous post, “Compartmentalization,” you see that I had a hard time understanding the relevance of thinking about denial.  Yesterday, I recalled another aspect of denial. Prior to D-day, I was in denial about the risks I was taking as part of my secret adulterous life.  I risked disease, humiliation, and so much more, not only for myself but also for my family. The whole time I was taking these risks, I told myself, “Don’t worry.  Nothing will happen to me.  I will be lucky.”  There was absolutely no logical reason to tell myself such unlikely things.  That self-talk was certainly a pathological denial about my own behavior and its consequences.  I buried my head in the sand.

This shows me that denial and lack of integrity were just two terms for the same ailment, in my case.  I did not have the integrity to reconcile my selfish life with my so-called normal life.  When I was immersed in one I was simultaneously in denial that the other even existed.  For example, as I played with my kids and talked with my wife, I fully separated myself from the knowledge that I had betrayed them the night before.  Similarly, as I lay with another woman, I completely ignored even the thought that I had a wife and kids worried about me at home.

Now, I can return to Baker’s question.  In what areas of my life am I beginning to face reality and break the effects of denial?  The answer is that I no longer separate the evil I have done from my so-called normal life.  I share TL’s shock, sadness, and distress about the risks I took, to her and to me.  Striving for integrity can also help me be sure not to start down the path toward evil again.  If I think an evil thought, I am less likely to accept it if I maintain connection to my normal life.  Forgive my simple terminology.  “Evil” is a convenient shorthand for selfishness and self-pity.  By keeping my two halves together, in the same body at the same time, I can avoid letting one of them overtake the other.

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