There are times when I say I am fine, and I am not. Sometimes that is OK. These past days, I discern my aunt doing something that program would call, "acting as if." It feels right, because she seems to be striking an emotional balance to sharing her sorrow. Personally I too find that "acting as if" can be a healthy aid to living a happy life, when used occasionally. Much like a gratitude practice can be a tool in living more serenely. But if I forget to look inside occasionally and admit the full truth of my situation, or to hide my problems, I could be in denial.
Many of us who have suffered the effects of family dysfunction may deny their problems. Although we may have been living in chaos, worried about our families, full of self-doubt, and spiritually, emotionally and physically depleted, many of us learned to pretend that everything was just fine. Denial can be a glaring symptom of emotional disease. Long-term denial of our emotional state may have contributed to our own illness, leading us to search for solutions through joining our twelve step fellowship.
Al-anon family groups are one place where I can be authentic about my feelings. Here too, I am highlyt likely to get an honest answer to the question, "How are you?" This is refreshing to me, because for a long time my only possible answer to this question was, "I'm fine, how are you?"--even when I wasn't fine at all.
Today it is important for me to be in an environment in which honesty is practiced. I don't necessarily launch into a detailed description of my woes or my joys--but when asked how I am doing, I try to ask myself what the real problem is. This frees me from the habit of denial and gives me choices.
How do I feel today? How am I doing? If I can answer those questions truthfully, I am more likely to pursue the help I need and to share the happy times with others as well. How much more serene I feel when I share my burdens honestly, good and bad.
Adapted, adopted, and adjusted to meet my needs, from Al-anon's Courage to Change, May 25th.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss