I am a competitive person by nature. And by this admission am hereby publicly confessing to be a perfectionist. In being a perfectionist, I am sometimes reluctant to admit to what I perceive to be weaknesses and shortcomings. Up until recently, I perceived the dynamic of denial to be a weakness. I thought it meant that I was not dealing with the situation at hand. Well guess what? The truth is that when I’m in denial I’m not dealing with the situation fully simply because it is too much to face in the moment.
What I’ve learned over the past few years is that denial can be my friend if “used” purposefully. For example, back when my husband had his life-changing automobile accident I moved through various stages of denial. Months later I retained a copy of my husband’s hospital medical record. As I read through it I saw that I had been given the “wife is in denial” label. I was resentful, to say the least. “How dare they label me! What did they know about what I was experiencing?”
And now looking back on it I realize how right they were. I was most definitely and for very good reason in a major state if denial. Unbeknownst to me it I was in a good place and denial was my friend and guardian angel.
What I’ve come to realize is that denial is a natural response to an unexpected and/or unacceptable occurrence. It is a protective mechanism that the mind, spirit and body move into when a situation is just too much to handle all at once. Allowing denial to be present can serve as a temporary safe space that one can use to become accustomed to the idea of what has happened. The key is to not sit in denial permanently – that’s when it becomes a crutch that can keep one from full acceptance and moving forward. Moving forward out if denial and into acceptance is an individual process for each of person. The important thing is to stay present with yourself as you are moving through it. And to the best of your ability, be grateful for the period of denial in which you find yourself as it is a natural time of adjustment as you move into a new-normal life.