The many faces of denial often show themselves at the beginning of the relationship. Some will say, “I just didn’t pay attention,” or “I ignored the red lights.” When it becomes apparent that there are problems within the relationship, you tell yourself, “It’s not so bad.” Then, you have a day when there are no conflicts (after days of intense conflict) and tell yourself the pain isn’t so bad. You say, “It seems easier; I can deal with this; It’ll get better.”
Another form of denial is telling yourself that it’s all his (or her) fault and you imagine that the day will come when he or she gets their act together and everything will be fine. You deny that you have any responsibility in the conflict or you say it’s all your fault.
If you deny your responsibility—as many people do—then it becomes logical to look for a new lover or partner. You’re getting clear in your mind that all the problems will be solved with a new partner, based on the denial of their part. The reality is that because it is based on a false premise, most of these new relationships fail. And now there are two relationship endings to process. At this point, some people realize that they need to look in the mirror and stop pointing to their partners as the problem.
Are you in denial?
The next level of denial is feeling that “this” doesn’t have to hurt so much so what people do is numb the shit out of it, so they don’t have to feel it. There are many ways of numbing: Alcohol, over-exercise, drugs, porn, electronic media, staying busy, constantly doing something, over or under eating, sleeping or not sleeping enough.
Another level of denial is thinking they can get through this by themselves. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine. I’ll get over this.” I’ve heard that zillions of times. They don’t tell anyone, or they tell very few people about it, and in doing so they enter the shame-game. Shame is emotional quicksand. The more I try to get out of it by myself the deeper I get into it. This is the time to reach out for help.
Still another way denial shows up is when people say things like, “I’m losing it. I’m falling apart. I’m a wreck.” This can be subtle but what they’re really talking about is they’re straddling grief and self-pity and a lot of people want to deny their grief. We don’t live in a culture that understands or honors grief. We call it sadness; we don’t call it grief. And so, as you know there’s a profound level of grief associated with relationship-ending. As a result, people try to short-circuit grief. In her book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, Elizabeth Lesser talks about the fast-food model of mourning—get over it quickly and get back to work: Affix the bandage of “closure” and move on.
Often, people want to completely short circuit the entire emotional process and don’t give it the time and attention required for healing. They tell themselves they should be ready to start dating in x days, weeks, months. They don’t consider how the disentanglement (also called ‘enmeshment’) and the adjustment process is different for each of us and don’t consider how much time it takes—but it’s certainly more than days, weeks or a few months. Denying this will contaminate the next relationship because we haven’t dealt with our baggage.
More Faces of Denial
Another level of denial is that when people start dating before they’re even divorced or are about to get divorced or they’re barely divorced and they believe they’re ready to do so. Not being in reality comes with a price. Illusions, delusions, fantasy allow us to perpetuate our denial. The result is that we stay in an unhealthy, limited awareness. You will not grow or heal or rebuild or transform by yourself. Time does not heal all wounds; time scars all wounds. Working on it will help you heal.
It is necessary and critical that we move out of the denial stage. When we do, we usually find that most of our fears are far worse than what the reality is. Projecting fear-based thinking into the future will keep you in denial.
By rebuilding your life from the inside out, you’ll be able to clearly move through the stages of relationship-ending and rebuild an authentic life of happiness. Take the first step and assess where you are by taking the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale (FDAS). The results are graphed so you can see where you are in the adjustment process.
Discover how to rebuild your life in our life-changing Rebuilding Workshop based on the groundbreaking book Rebuilding | When Your Relationship Ends by Dr. Bruce Fisher—a pioneer in the field of divorce recovery. This 10-week program is designed for you to reset your life as you move from denial to freedom.
Begin the Rebuilding process today by contacting Nick at Nick@AfterDivorceSupport.com