Relationships, part 56:When Illness Takes Over: Denial

When illness takes over a relationship, it can be tricky. It tries to make you believe it doesn’t exist. It tries to say everything is normal. Often it’s successful. When it’s successful, we call it denial. You don’t have to be the one with the illness to be in denial.


There are six varieties of denial.

Denial of fact

It never happened.

He doesn’t drink that much… She can’t be using cocaine… Everything’s fine, No, I haven’t been crying… My wife and I have this understanding… My husband can’t come to work today, he’s feeling ill… This black eye, oh, I fell into a doorknob…

Denial of responsibility

It is someone else’s fault.

He drinks because he’s been stressed at work… She wouldn’t do drugs if there wasn’t so much around… He’s been seeing hookers because I just haven’t been there for him like I should…She keeps forgetting to take that medicine, it’s prescribed so many times a day… He can’t help it that he’s depressed, he has a chemical imbalance…It’s my fault he hit me, I keep on provoking him…

Denial of impact

No harm is done.

At least when he drinks at home, I know he won’t get any more DWIs… Sure, she smokes pot every day, but at least it’s not heroin… We have an open marriage, I’m fine with it; I’m just not that interested in… She’s just having one of her spells… He hasn’t been out of bed in a week, but I’m taking care of everything… You should have seen what my last boyfriend did to me…

Denial of awareness

I didn’t realize it was happening.

He didn’t mean to drink so much, he must’ve lost count… No, I haven’t noticed those tracks on her arm… I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been home much… If she wants my help, she can ask for it…I don’t know how he got so depressed, it just happened…We were doing fine and then he just freaked out…

Denial of cycle

It couldn’t have been prevented.

He ought to be able to go out sometimes, just because everyone else is drinking, it doesn’t mean he has to… She’s doing great, no cocaine for a week, I guess she’s not an addict… That therapist was wrong, she’s not depressed, listen to her laugh… When we’re great, we’re great; when it’s bad, it’s very bad…

Denial of the need for help

We can handle it on our own.

He can’t go to rehab, I need him at home…I used to do drugs, but I stopped cold turkey; she can, too… Everyone gets depressed sometimes… If she can handle the deployment, she can handle it at home… We’re fine…

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