Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sweet Denial

Honesty in the face of denial is a precarious situation and nowhere is this truer than within the confines of an ailing marriage. Take Meadow’s husband, John, an asthmatic smoker. It is not uncommon for John to have an asthma attack while having a cigarette or shortly after taking the last carcinogenic inhalation of a particularly refreshing smoke.

To anyone else, it is clear the cigarettes are exacerbating his respiratory condition. John, however, vehemently denies any correlation between his worsening asthma and his smoking.

Oh, sweet denial.

Sometimes denial is used as a coping mechanism so people can live under otherwise unbearable or deplorable conditions. Other times denial enables people to trick themselves into thinking it is perfectly fine to engage in harmful behaviors and addictions. Meadow understands this and does employ denial as a coping tool herself from time to time. In fact, under certain circumstances, she endorses denial for the sake of sanity. It can be depressing and incapacitating to constantly have to face your faults, especially if there is nothing you can do about those faults or at least that’s your religious-like belief.

Meadow can therefore respect the use of denial once in a while - everything in moderation. Your denial is safe with her. Meadow’s view is that by letting those around her live peacefully in their denial, her own denials are fairly secure. As soon as you start poking at someone else's denial, it suddenly becomes an open invitation for them to poke back at yours and frankly there are some things Meadow is simply not prepared to analyze.

Despite this, there are times when she cannot stop herself from prodding at John’s smoking denial. For instance, the other morning when he was having a particularly hard time with his breathing, without considering the repercussions, Meadow blurted out, “Maybe you should quit smoking.”

Oh great.

She mentally braced herself for a character assassination, a dig or a slur. John, though, was too preoccupied with gulping oxygen into his lungs to bother with petty insults.

"Don't start! Can't you see this isn't a good time for a fight?" He choked on his words as he continued to gasp for air.

They were in their bedroom and John was sitting slumped over on the edge of the bed. His inhaler wasn't working as fast as it once had, and it was quite disturbing watching him struggle to breathe. Because of this, and also because Meadow feared there was something more sinister going on with John than just asthma, she felt she had a moral obligation to proceed with her assault on his denial.

"You're killing yourself! Do you want your kids to grow up without a father?"

Good grief.

"Why do you always want to fight?" he angrily panted.

Meadow stared at this agitated little smoking man she married, hunched over as he was, wheezing out his nasty retorts as if she was the enemy – as if she was singlehandedly popping the tiny air sacs in his lungs with a pin on the end of a wire and then sitting back to watch him suffocate, laughing the whole time like a sadistic lunatic. The entire scenario struck Meadow as completely absurd and then she literally did laugh which only infuriated John more.

She imagined him, then, standing in front of her in the middle of a highway. She can see a huge semi-truck speeding up behind him and warns, "MOVE! A big truck is coming!"

John gets annoyed with her and in his usual pattern deflects the focus back on her, "Why do you always try and tell me what to do? You always want to..."

But before he can utter another word, he is hit by the truck.

Meadow walks over to his flattened body and says, “Look, now you're as flat as a pancake. If you had just listened to me you'd still be multidimensional."

He peels himself off the pavement and as he tries to stomp off – in no way, incidentally, changed by the experience – he is picked up by a slight breeze and blown into a nearby puddle. There, he disintegrates into nothingness like an old piece of tobacco rolling paper.

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