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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Life in denial...

I live in Denial, NC. It’s just a small town but it has a large population of people who refuse to admit or accept that things are not as they should be. I should run for Mayor because I probably hold the most denial points than anyone else in town.

Yesterday I found myself lying at the bottom of the back steps, denying that I needed any help getting back into the house. I had gone outside to get the trash can ready to go to the street for pick-up. I was about to step down to the next step, but my foot hit a beer can and I tumbled down three brick steps and landed on my side on the concrete driveway.

Riley came to the door and asked if he could help me. I told him that he couldn’t even help himself get up – there was no way he could help me. That’s true – it’s not denial. He has no body strength and expecting him to help me back up the stairs would just have been a frustrating adventure for both of us. So he watched me.

I managed to crawl around to the stair railing and pull myself up to a place where I could hop on one foot up the steps and into the house. I managed to fix an ice pack and went to my office where I could put my foot up and ice it down. It’s not broken – but it’s probably sprained. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room because there really isn’t much they can do – x-ray, ace bandage, and ice packs. I’ve had sprained ankles before and that’s always the drill. I can do that myself. I’m not denying their help – just denying that I NEED their help.

As I chastised myself throughout the day for not being more observant – the stark cold truth hit me right between my eyes. I know and accept that I’m 62 years old – not much of a spring chicken anymore. But, for some reason I deny that I can’t do all the things that a 23 year old can do. I expect a lot from myself and I expect that I can do it all right now – right this very minute. I come from a long line of really tough women. I believe I’m just as tough as Gramma who had a terrific vegetable and flower garden until she was well into her 70s – and she depended on no one to help with watering and weeding – which she did daily. My mother was in her 60s when she went back to college and earned a 4.0 average. And -- she did it while growing an acre of black-eyed peas and selling them for extra money. I deny that I can’t follow in their footsteps.

I’m in denial that I’m blind in one eye and have no depth perception – the beer can that I tripped over was only a part of the problem. I deny that I couldn’t see the beer can because of my faulty eyesight. I deny that my knees don’t work well on stairs so that I have to take them slowly, one at a time. I deny that I needed any help back into the house or that I might need medical attention. And, I deny that I’m in denial about why I fell.

I have other denial attributes. I deny that I can’t cook a balanced meal every single night. I deny that I need help cleaning the house or tending the yard – well maybe not that one so much as that I deny that my budget doesn’t allow for the professional help I don’t deny I need. I deny that Riley will live another two years.

I’m not the only one who lives in this town. My friend denies that she has to make a decision about her marriage. My aunt denies she ever had a drinking issue. My neighbor denies that his dog should be spayed. My boss denies that I’m being set up for failure.  My internet provider denies that their version of high-speed is as slow as a turtle crossing the highway. Riley denies that his beer drinking is what causes his daily vomiting.

Ok. Here’s the deal. I will no longer deny that I can’t do everything I used to do. I will try to accept the fact that it takes me all week to clean the house – because I must do it one room a day. I will try to accept the fact that I must hold on to the railing while going down the steps. I will try not to take it for granted that the steps will be clear of other objects, such as beer cans. I will try not to deny that I have unrealistic expectations of my abilities.

Riley’s denial will continue. He will deny that beer is as bad for him as vodka. He will deny that he needs to shower more often than once a year. He will deny that he’s vomiting daily. He will deny that needs to wear a diaper. He will deny that he can’t walk from one room to another without holding onto something solid. He will continue to deny that he is killing himself.

The big difference between me and Riley is that I can use my denial to my advantage by recognizing it and using it to determine what I must change. I can use it as a tool for self-preservation. The trick is being observant and objective enough to see it for what it is. Sometimes that means taking a fall down the back steps because I denied opening my eyes to the reality of my denial – which was to open my eyes and see what was in front of me.

5 comments:

Syd said...

I can feel less supple than I used to but still feel as if I am 23. And I do a lot of physical stuff. I don't want to slow down at all.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Hugs and support, as usual.

Karen E. said...

Hope you feel better phyically very soon. Mentally and emotionally I can tell you are VERY strong..I cant deny that!

On another note..daily vomiting..my mother has that too...just in the mornings..then she is fine.is this the liver? I have been reading alot on alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Colleen said...

The toughest part about living with an alcoholic, is that you have to do everything yourself. Everything falls on you, and it gets overwhelming.
Two months I tripped down 1 step and broke my foot. No weight bearing for 4 weeks, cast, major accomplishment each day was getting dressed and making a meal.
Sometimes we have to slow down and remind ourselves, we are human beings, not human doings.
It is ok for us to take care of ourselves once in a while!
Rest that ankle!

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Hope your foot's healing. I so understand your situation. You have to be the strong one and support the weak one. And yet? Last year I broke my right wrist and it was awful not being independent.

You know what's MOST frustrating for me? When my husband (the unackowledged drinker) converses with me like nothing's wrong. It drives be bonkers.