THE POWER OF DENIAL
“Nothing bad ever happened to me,” John said firmly. “My dad would never really hurt me, even though he was sometimes a bit rough.”
“I would know if something bad has happened to me,” Julie said with conviction. “My doctor has asked if I have ever been sexually abused. I tell her, ‘Of course not!’ My parents always protected me.”
Julie is struggling, though. She has generalized anxiety; and insecurity about herself makes it difficult to cope at work. Feelings of hurt and pain sometimes engulf her mind and body, and doctors tell her it might be psychosomatic, a.k.a ‘all in her head.’ I ask Julie if she knows where her emotional and physical challenges might come from? She said, “No, I haven’t got a clue, because I had such a normal life. I just don’t get it.” “Are you willing to find out? To explore the real ‘ground floor’ of your ‘life building,'” I ask?
Denial of the truth is a powerful coping tool for children. But, what happens as we grow up? When a tall building is built in an earthquake zone, much time is spent on building a strong but flexible foundation. This foundation makes the building resilient, so it sways in earthquakes and high winds. But, the flexibility and strength of the deeply dug and well-built foundation holds the building, so it does not fall or crumble. A child growing up in a family with loving parenting, appropriate rules and boundaries, has strong pillars of love and safety that create a flexible foundation to live life from. This child becomes a resilient and flexible adult who can withstand the storms and quakes of life, and a relationship with God adds depth and strength to an already ‘strong building.’
What are the foundations for a child who grows up in strife, fear, sexual, physical and/or verbal abuse? What does that child build on, and what are the pillars that will hold this person up in adult life? A child who lives with emotional earthquakes every day and gales that shake the ‘building’ every time the abuse and strife happens, what does this child use to prevent self-destruction? The foundation of trauma makes life and people very unsafe and very unpredictable. So, there is no true resilience or flexibility, and this ‘building’ is at risk of falling down, even as it is being built.
The foundation of fear, pain, and rejection won’t change, so the child creates a ‘false’ or ‘new foundation,’ not built on truth of all the trauma happening, but one built on denial of the trauma. A false ground floor on top of the real one. And, this new floor seals off the real one as if it is not there. It is like pouring concrete on top of the original foundation with dissociation (alter parts) being the concrete used to cover it up, as if it does not exist.
THE REAL GROUND FLOOR
Denial of truth will keep Julie in a constant state of seeking help for various physical ailments and emotional issues because the ‘real ground floor’ content is seeping up into her life. Dissociative parts can hold it together for a long time, but they get tired of the effort and begin to leak out information. This will happen in the form of dreams, body aches and pains, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and any type of emotion that is not connected to a source. And, the more that the true feelings seep out, the stronger denial will step-in to help keep the truth away. It is a vicious cycle.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF DENIAL
To begin to break denial one needs to accept all feelings are valid, even the unwanted difficult feelings. Because, they were not created in a vacuum. They have a source, a reason to be. The source is the truth of the real ‘ground floor’ we have avoided. Feelings are neither good nor bad, therefore have no moral barometer. So, angry feelings are not ‘bad.’ They are a normal response to injustice. Pain and fear are not feelings that are easy for us. They have a purpose, as God created us with the ability to feel, therefore they are part of our humanness and need to be accepted, not rejected.
Denial of truth and the associated feelings are at the root of self-rejection, depression, and self-hatred. Anger denied a voice will be internalized. And, in severe cases, it polarizes us internally, setting one side set up to punish the other side. Anger turned inwards can cause us to create a ‘bad’ side with the ugly unwanted feelings, and memory is banished. The ‘good’ and accepted self, built on top of the denied feelings and truth, is strengthened with good works and other outward focused activities. Many suicidal thoughts come from banished ‘bad’ feelings and the associated despair of not having a voice and being pushed even further away.
Denial, as with many other ‘avoidance of truth,’ functions is sin, and will be used against us by KOD (Kingdom of Darkness or Satan). For more information about the legal rights system used by KOD, click here: http://www.roberthenderson.org/. Denial also has a generational component to it, and this generational iniquity is a major influencing factor in how we cope and react to life issues. Therefore, it needs to be addressed and resolved as well.
DISSOCIATION AND DENIAL
Dissociative parts created when we are young continue to function as we become adults, and they continue to keep the truth of what happened to us when we were young hidden from us. In fact, the more we reinforce their function by agreeing that ‘nothing bad happened,’ the more difficult it can be to face the truth and open it up.’ Parts become tired of the effort however, and by the time we enter into our 30’s, they often begin to leak out portions of memory, feelings and body memory. This is when issues that were, previously not so debilitating, can become more problematic. Therefore, generalized anxiety can become more acute, and intrusive thoughts become louder, and mild depression deeper. Many report a sense of being stuck and feeling an inability to get on with and enjoy life.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE DENIAL?
Our own denial is difficult to recognize. The nature of denial will deny its own existence. The first easy marker of denial is to look at how you handle difficulties. Do you face them, process them well and adjust, and then move on? Or, do you struggle through the life challenge, minimizing the impact with words such as, ‘it wasn’t that bad,’ and then, as quickly as possible, turn away from it and move on. Were your parents ‘under the rug sweepers?’ If so, you will have a certain amount of denial operating. Did you grow up in a household with unspoken rules? Do you have gaps in your childhood memory? Are there unexplained health and emotional issues that you just cannot get resolved?
Ask Holy Spirit to help you see your denied truth of childhood, as this denial and avoidance can lock dissociative parts and memory away, where we cannot access them on our own. We often will need help from a counselor trained to work with the dissociative parts. The person in denial needs to be willing to confront their fears, choose to stop avoiding, decide to accept the truth hidden from them, and own it.
Jesus wants us to have truth in our innermost parts. Therefore, we cannot be healed of what we don’t know exists or don’t want to know exists. Because, it is truth that frees us. Satan loves to keep denial in place. And, he will quietly reinforce our own lies that we tell ourselves–those inner vows and thoughts telling us that nothing happened and that it wasn’t that bad. For most, the fear of feeling the emotional pain again is a reason to avoid it. Others don’t want to really know what happened, as it would change the narrative they have told themselves about who they want to be in this world. And, it conflicts with the fear of who they feel they are deep inside. Truth might expose ugly, but Jesus specializes in making beauty from ashes.