I think it was Robin Williams who said, “Denial, it’s not a river in Egypt.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about denial recently. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing?
Yesterday my shrink (yep, my shrink is now going to be making guest appearances on this blog via a soft-spoken hand puppet wearing a flowing dress and beaded necklace) said that the reason I’ve been able to function so well after having cancer is due to healthy denial.
How do you get your kids on the bus and send them off into the world every day?
How do you find yourself singing along to “Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don’t Care” ten minutes after you’ve dropped the kids off and still consider yourself a sexy beast?
How do you consider yourself a sexy beast after having three children?
How do you keep from suffocating your partner in his sleep after you find yourself with a wet hiney for the quadrillion time because he has left the seat up again?
Yup. It’s that overriding belief that everything is okay despite the fact that the dog crapped in your slipper again. It’s what keeps us going.
Since the tattoo incident with Matthew Mattison at The Little Tattoo Shoppe I have found myself faced with other people’s denial about Matthew’s behavior.
Several of Matthew’s female friends have attempted to comment on this blog. They do not like that I have come forward with the details of his behavior.
Matthew’s girlfriends feel that I am trying to ruin his career.
Matthew’s girlfriends believe that he couldn’t possibly come on to other women because he has been married for a long time.
Matthew’s girlfriends think I fictionalized the incident.
Matthew’s girlfriends feel that because I am uncomfortable with a business owner trying to coerce me into having sex means I’m not bad ass enough to get tattooed.
Intellectually I find these comments fascinating.
It is very difficult to pull yourself out of denial when someone you love and care about does something truly stupid. No one wants to see a friend hurting.
Many years ago a close family member got accused, arrested and later imprisoned for illegal business dealings. For many years he had gotten away with this behavior.
The family member’s actions caused great pain in our family, essentially derailed his life, and very likely made things very difficult for people who were directly and indirectly effected by his business actions.
I love this family member.
He is one of my closest friends.
He did something extremely stupid.
When he got caught I was angry. I was angry at him for what he had done. I was angry at him for hurting other people. And I was angry with myself for having trusted him.
But would I contact one of his accusers and tell her that she had fictionalized what he’d done? No.
Would I call the people he hurt and tell them that they should deny their experience because I didn’t believe he could be capable of such behavior? No.
No matter how well you think you know someone, you don’t know everything.
You might tell yourself you do. That kind of healthy denial can be functional. But unless you are living in that person’s body and following his or her every move, you simply can’t know what he or she is capable of. People are ever evolving.
It sucks to be duped by someone.
It is hard to have your idea of who someone is challenged by a stranger. It is painful and I understand that kind of anger.
But anger with me for telling the truth about Matthew’s behavior that night will not take away the fact that it happened.
Threatening me and belittling me will not take away the fact of that night and what I experienced at The Little Tattoo Shoppe.
Because whether you like it or not, it happened.