* Denial *

Denial saved my life.
When I denied how a head injury changed me, and everything about my life,
denial gave me the time I needed to become able to face my new reality.
Denial helped me hold on to hope.
Denial told me everything was okay and everything would be okay.
Everyone was telling me the same thing.
Denial helped me believe it.
Denial kept the full weight of reality from crushing me.
It also aided me in making decisions that, in hindsight, were mistakes.
And it helped me deny my perceptions that something was very wrong.
Denial made me feel like I should be doing more, should be better, should "be over it" by now.
Denial made me feel bad about myself, and made me feel I was no longer good enough.
Denial turned on me.
It kept me from seeing the truth...
but denial was very, very hard to let go of.
I was afraid of what I would see.
I was afraid I had permanently lost too much of myself and couldn't survive.
Denial kept me trapped in that fear.
And denial fueled anger.

Denial had been my help and then my hinderance.
It had brought me to this stinging desert where I could feel grief,
and then denial left me, and left with every cell made raw, where my loss
of predictability, and stability, and sense of self was finally fully felt.
I did not think I would survive.
Without a compassionate friend I would not have survived.
My choice was made to move forward.
*I* made the choice to move forward, though denial seductively called me back.
I knew in denial I would have support.

But I felt.
And continued feel... and finally to see.

There is a saying, "to fully know joy, you have to fully experience your grief."
It makes sense now.
I held on too long to denial.
But I needed to. I needed to find this safe place,
where I could have support so that I could learn for myself
that past the denial,
and beyond the anguish of grief,
is the ability to feel long lost joy
and to find peace with myself... at last.

Stephanie St. Claire
January  29, 1998