Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Denial And Enabling

I was watching the show, "Hoarders" on the weekend and many things struck me while glued to the train wreck on my television. Firstly, I cannot believe people live like that, nor that they have to painfully go through each little scrap of paper or old cup to decide if it's a "keep, throw away or donate." I felt their family's frustration as they stood by watching them clear out (sorta) their homes.

My husband came in as I was sitting there in shock, and made the comment that I'm the opposite of that. I'm an anti-hoarder. I said I think it's called being a Purger. I throw things out and give things away regularly. I don't like clutter and knickknacks and well, "stuff." I think that probably still falls under some sort of control or compulsive disorder, but I'd rather that than vermin and droppings. Shudder.

It led me to ponder about the nature of it all, this denial versus enabling.

It's curious to me how one can have an emotional or behavioural problem that is so obvious to everyone around, and yet be in denial about it. I know people in my own life that are the same way and no amount of calling them on it will convince them that they have "issues." The hoarders were saying things like, "Well, I collect things and I just have too much right now." The other excuse I heard was, "It's just not organized in here." Whaaaat??? How can you honestly deny what is so apparently a massive problem?

I know people with many, many social and physical phobias. They won't do certain things or have to do certain things on a timetable, the same every day. They'll deny it's a problem or make excuses for the reasons behind why they behave that way. The denial always leaves me scratching my head.

Yet, it was the family members that seemed to me to be just as big of a problem as the person with the issues. They were also making excuses, going along with the hoarders, living in the house with the mess. The enablers I know in real life are the same. They don't kick their partners butt to help them, to take them out of their circle of rules and lies, but go along with them. They defend the abnormal behaviours. They themselves become embroiled in the cycle.

What is worse? The problem, the denial of said problem, or those that enable it? I don't see how you can recover from a behaviour without acknowledging it, and sometimes you need a kick in the pants to do so. If you love someone, isn't that kind of your job?

I know we all have some sort of behaviour that is slightly odd or off. It could be as simple as that before going to bed, we do a certain routine of checking all the lights are off, that the stove is off and that the door is locked. (ahem) I guess the thing with me is, I could never get away with any truly anti-social or anxious behaviours. I know that the people in my life would never enable it. If anything, they'd tell me off and push me to get over it. Even in times of heartache, I've heard that I need to suck it up, that I need to choose my reaction and my path. I just can't wallow in the crazy. No one in my inner circle would allow that. Uh uh, no way.

Maybe that's part of the key to working through issues. I know part one is personality and I tend to be confrontational with things. I don't live in denial and I usually choose to see the painful truth, even if it's going to hurt like an SOB. I'd always rather pull the Band-Aid quickly than pretend it's not there, or that I don't have any hurts. I can't imagine living in a world where I make excuses for my issues or that I live in a sheltered way because I'm afraid to go out of my comfort zone.

Obviously the second part is surrounding yourself with people who aren't afraid to push you, to challenge you, to get you to take action. If everyone just placates you and agrees with you and pretends the Big Pink Elephant doesn't exist, you'll also never, by nature, confront yourself. Truly, I think people choose others sometimes that WILL allow them to do that, that will make them feel that maybe their issues really aren't that bad. That will deny their existence, even. That will coddle them into complacency.

It's a sad and vicious circle, to be sure. I can't imagine living that way, nor would I ever be allowed to sink that low. I wouldn't allow myself, nor would anyone around me.

There's no denial or enabling here. Thank goodness. Though, every once in awhile, it'd be nice to deny that my need for sparse spaces and no clutter is a control issue or that I'm slightly anal retentive. I'm just neat, right?


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