I’ve been thinking about denial and how it keeps us hooked. How does it work? How can a seemingly intelligent articulate human being be duped into this weird shame/denial spiral for years and years and years. Why does it take some people several rock bottom moments and why are some people still completely hopelessly in denial even in the face of liver disease and social services taking their children away?
Factors that contributed to keeping me in denial about my problem:
- My peers and husband were mostly heavy drinkers.
- Misinformation about how addictive alcohol is and what an ‘alcoholic’ looks like.
- The fact that I was highly functioning, working, raising children, running a household and doing it very well (untill the end where it all came apart)
- The social Stigma attached to addiction and being labelled an ‘alcoholic’
- The mistaken belief that this is a habit and that you only need willpower to control it. (This one is rife especially among people who love to drink!)
- I hadn’t suffered major consequences around my drinking, I hadn’t lost my licence/job/car/house or family.
- The idea that once I’ve done therapy and faced my teenage traumas and angst I would somehow be cured and be able to drink like a normal person.
Type A denial is when a person sees, understands, and knows that they have a definite problem. When confronted about the problem they flat-out deny it, knowing that it is true. This type of denial is outright dishonesty or lying.
Type B denial is when a person is either partially or totally blind to a problem that they have. Through a hundred forms of self-deception, rationalization, justification and excuse making, a person can actually believe that they do not have a problem, when everyone around them sees this it is obvious. This type of denial comes from being honestly dishonest or by blindness.
I think most of us know deep down that something is wrong with the way we drink but it looks like alcohol first has to do some real damage before we will even consider that we might have a problem. Isn’t it tragic that we protect the ‘precious substance’ and not ourselves?
Once we accept that this is drug addiction and that there is no going back to ‘normal drinking’ the healing can start and the struggle can cease. I am so glad to be at this point because I have done my share of struggling. It’s a relief to accept reality the way it is. Accept the drug for what it is and accept that your relationship with the drug is what it is. There is so much freedom in that! So much peace.