The original Brothers Grimm fairy tales read more like episodes of Law and Order than kid-friendly classics. They’re chock-full of juicy, unadulterated sex and raw violence.
Think I’m lying? Read the original version of Cinderella.
In the original Cinderella , Cinderella’s no angel. The sweet little cinder girl takes malicious revenge on her stepsisters, whom you may recall had tormented her for years. After the sisters’ epic foot fail–they chopped off parts of their flippers to try to stuff them into that tiny shoe–Cinderella flies into action.
Foot mutilation isn’t enough for the cinder girl. She contracts Mafia pigeons to pluck out those sista’s eyes, leaving them blind and maim. Her message to them is clear before she and her hot prince dash off into the sunset in their totally fly wedding coach: Don’t mess with Cinderella. Totally gruesome, right?
I’m good with the Disney lies. I wish I could just re-write sections of my life. Alas, I don’t have a magic wand. Real people have to face real problems. When we refuse, it’s called de-ni-al.
That’s when we don’t face our ugly truths; we rewrite them and think we’re going to live happily ever after.
No such luck.
Life can be painful. An alcoholic parent, abuse, neglect, or divorce can cause disruptions maiming us emotionally and leaving us to limp through life. After identifying denial, we have to take the next steps and cope with it.
Coping with and addressing the problems are really the only options for an emotionally healthy life.
Here’s how I’ve coped with denial:
1. Feel the pain.
It’s difficult to face issues that you’d rather not see or have been trying to avoid. Sometimes you can end up feeling worse after you decide to confront an issue head-on because you’re forced to deal with emotions you’ve stuffed or tried to pretend you didn’t have.
2. Be patient.
If you’ve been denying an issue for a long time, give yourself time. Sometimes when we realize we’ve been avoiding an issue, we want a magic bullet to solve the problem right away. When coping with denial, setbacks are common. Expect them. Don’t allow setbacks to weaken or discourage you from reaching your goal of facing the issue.
3. Look at the facts.
Look at the situation objectively. If you were giving advice to a friend in denial, what would you recommend? Look at the facts.
4. Accept that I may not have all the facts.
Sometimes when we live in denial, we don’t have an opportunity to gather all the facts. If you’ve been in denial about events in your childhood, you may not always have an opportunity to go back and collect the necessary information to fill in the gaps. Time passes. People die or move away. You may have to resolve yourself that you may never know everything, but you need to do the best you can with the information you have.
5. Distinguish fact from feeling.
Feelings aren’t facts. They’re feelings. But, it’s easy to confuse the two when emotion is involved. Look at the facts and distinguish them from feelings. Feelings that surround painful events in our lives are powerful.
6. Admit you need help, and seek it.
This can be another hard step. The longer we deny a problem, the harder it is to finally begin to address it. The longer we put if off, the easier it is to become comfortable with our behaviors and change can be difficult.
Our lives aren’t fairy tales. We can’t just revise the past, ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. We have to step out of denial, face the issue, and deal with it, always remembering that no matter what we’ve been through, God has a plan for our lives.
And, He tells us that He works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.–Romans 8:28
I loved fairy tales as a kid. Actually, I still do. But, the tragic endings of many of these gory stories motivates me to get my head out of the sand and face reality.
What are you denying in your life that needs to be confronted with truth?