The title of this blog post is a well known quote by Mark Twain (it was also the title of one of Judge Judy’s books many moons ago). It is a play on part of the word ‘denial‘ and the river Nile in Egypt…denial is not some faraway place or thing but an aspect of human behavior designed to protect you from very painful truths. This involves believing or stating that something is false or non-existent when the opposite is the reality of the situation.
Denial is….telling my friend in high school that I was in no way negatively affected by the sexual abuse I experienced in my childhood…”No, no, no…I’m FINE, really!”
Denial is…a man not being able to function in the world without a swig of alcohol every hour who responds to his family’s concerns with an emphatic, “I can quit whenever I want to!”
Denial is…a woman seeing her boyfriend rolling around in the grass kissing another woman and choosing to believe his explanation for this behavior, “Honey, I was administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Please believe me.”
Denial is…former President Clinton declaring, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” (These may not be his exact words, feel free to correct me.)
This last example of denial was more about Clinton protecting his presidency than shielding himself from an unpleasant truth…he knows very well who he is (as do many others). However, this statement is still one of denial.
For the most part, such perceptions or declarations of falsehood in the face of fact are psychological coping mechanisms. You (we) all do it to some extent until the truth cannot be hidden any longer. When this point is reached and you choose to persist with your delusions, there is usually some sort of trouble in various aspects of your life: mental or physical health, finances, relationships and so on.
Sometimes the only way up is to reach rock bottom but I find that the best way – at least in my experience – is to face the truth as it is the only thing that will set you free and allow you to soar as a human being. You can start by no longer rowing (or riding) that boat along the Nile, stepping out of it and walking on solid ground.