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« Scapegoats: Stop Telling the Truth | Main | Military Structure and the Chaotic Family »

December 31, 2009

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You know this concept of ‘denial’ in alcoholic homes is interesting to me. Let me just state that I very much see myself in this post. I do this, ask for confirmation of my thoughts in the way you mention however your paragraph about Dad being too drunk to go to work (he’s sick) strikes no emotional bells with me. My Dad was a raging drunk, non-functioning would be the term but nobody in my house was denying it per se. We were not blind, we could see that he was a drunk, we knew simply because there was no hiding it. However there was no blatant denial, it was unnecessary and any fool could see it. I think the deeper problem was the fact that it was unspoken. We knew it but nobody was acknowledging it and this cue I do believe was taken from my mother and the other adults around us (e.g. my grandparents). It isn’t necessarily, or always about denial but rather the latent message that it is unspeakable. It’s there, we all know but don’t anybody talk about it. It is something to be hidden, something that is shameful – as if this was our shame to bear.

And maybe this tendency to seek confirmation of our thoughts and opinions has more to do with daring to speak the truth, tentatively daring to do so, afraid that it might not be ok.

I don’t know, I’m sort of grasping at straws here but I suspect this tendency has more to do with the message of shame we received rather than any blatant denial. Of course everybody is different and for some you might be spot on.

Hi Jss,

If this shoe doesnt fit, dont wear it! Trust your instincts and what you know to be true.

I love what you have to say about the incidiousness of the denial, the unspokeness of it, even the sanction against speaking about the behavior is unspoken.It sounds as if telling you not to mention it would require that they (the adults) actually acknowledge it. And it was too unspeakable even to benoticed. This is where the insanity comes from. You could swear you see a raging drunk, butthe adults act like they dont see it.

I remembermore than a decade ago when I sat in one of my first groups for hardcore heroin addicts. A member entered, sat down in his chair and proceeded to roll forward in a nod from heroin. He would eventually catch himself, with a jerk, and sit back up. But each time he rolled forward hishead got lower to the ground.He eventually rolled so far forward hishead was almost between his ankles and I had no idea how he remained seated instead of somersaulting into the middleof the floor. I watched the group leader and waited for an acknowledgement of the behavior. But it never came! Noone in the room acknowledged it was happening, including thegroup leader who was in recovery herself. This pattern of just not seeingaddictive behavior was that entrenched. I was amazed!

You also mention the shame of it. That is absolutely right. Shame is the foundation of the silence.And I imagine it was heavily implied (without actually saying it) that daring to speak the shame would bring catastrophic consequences (though we never knew what). I think that the unknown is sometimes more fear-inducing than the known.

You do not seem to be grasping at straws to me. You seem to have a very clear idea of what you experienced and are able to describe it eloquently. Thank you for the valuable feedback.

Peace,

Kellen

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