Shame and Denial

I have this person in my life I deal with periodically that is an addict. The details as to the TYPE of addict are unnecessary, but if you have addicts in your life you (hopefully) know as I have learned that they live in a state of denial. This is a hard thing to understand if you are NOT an addict, because you do NOT live in a state of denial so you have to constantly remind yourself that YOUR interpretation of the world and theirs is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

I suck at reminding myself about this. I keep analyzing this person’s behavior as if they are ME, which is never a good idea, because we’re all different. But it is ESPECIALLY not a good idea with someone who lives in denial because they are NEVER SEEING THE WORLD AS YOU SEE IT.

Some people look at this denial as a survival method to counterbalance the shame of addiction. They say shame and denial are intricately connected.And I see a lot of truth in this because I see shame causing denial even in people who are NOT addicts.

What are some things that cause shame – and therefor denial – in people who are NOT addicts?

Sometimes shame can be caused by trauma, like sexual assault victims who convince themselves what happened was their fault in some way. Or children of abusive parents who convince themselves all families are like theirs just so they can survive. Victims of trauma feel shame and in order to survive and not feel that shame, they hide the trauma behind denial.

But other times shame is caused by something you’ve done that you simply feel ashamed about. In my “asshole years” as I like to call them (this is pre-Donnie) I lived in complete denial because I didn’t want to face how big of an asshole I was so I excused all of my asshole behavior. I built myself a fake world in my shame-induced denial bubble that allowed me to keep shitting on people because in this world of denial I lived in, I wasn’t really shitting on them.

It’s something you learn to spot if you have addicts in your life…this denial. And the tell-tale signs are when you just can’t not wrap your head around someone’s decision making you step back and say, “Wait. They’re in denial. They are not seeing the world as I see it.” It’s hard because it’s like reminding yourself, “Wait, this person lives in a world where superheroes are real,” which seems RIDICULOUS. Of course superheroes aren’t real! And you find yourself kinda jealous that they live in that world. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could deny the painful truths around you too?

Welp, all of this is to transcribe a specific sequence of events with this addict in my life to show how easy it is to get yourself wrapped up in their denial.

So this addict friend got upset and asked me if I was mad at him recently. I was so irritated because OF COURSE I was not mad at him. What would I be mad at him for? I’ve just been busy! And so haven’t responded to his texts! I even asked him face-to-face, what did you think I could be mad at you for? And he just kinda mumbled that he didn’t know he was just worried. Well, then another mutual friend said he did the same to them

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