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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Denial

I frequently deal with denial at work. Parents who are in denial about just exactly how bad their child's legal problems are, their drug use is, or how long they have been acting out. There are also the parents who deny that MST will work or that we can create change in their child against his or her will (we can, BTW...)

It is hard, though, when denial comes and smacks the therapist right in his or her face. I can vividly remember right before my father died, at my brother's wedding, talking to my other brother about a quilt I was making for my dad for Christmas. He told me, "Make it quick". I was a bit puzzled as to why he would say that. I mean, sure, my dad's episodes of pneumonia were coming closer and closer, and sure, he did walk my sister down the aisle at her wedding the previous year while at mine that year he had to be pushed in his wheelchair....but surely he was going to make it to Christmas!

He did not. In fact, he did not make it to Thanksgiving.

When my mother told me that hospice was being called in, I honestly and truly thought that she was being dramatic and overreacting. (If you knew my mother, you would know that that is not a far stretch. In my defense ;p) I truly thought that my father was going to be just fine. His death, I can say with complete frankness, was actually a bit of a shock to me. Or at least it was, on first glance. Looking back, I knew. I don't know that I could handle the truth at that time. Is anyone ever really prepared for a parent to die?

The same applies to when we found out about Gabe. Looking back, I knew. I even remember posting on a board with other mommies who were as far along as I was, who were all talking about how they felt their babies move. I never felt my son move. Again, in my defense, I was 28 weeks with Elizabeth and 22 with Alexis. But my stomach stopped getting bigger, because he was not growing. I popped at 16 weeks then stopped popping.

The day of the ultrasound, the nurses and Charles all knew as soon as they put the wand to my belly. There was no flickering of the heartbeat. I knew SOMETHING was not right when he started to measure small...but I was in complete denial.

I can completely understand why people use denial. I can completely understand the heartbreak that comes when that denial is shattered. It has helped me become a better therapist and human being.

It still sucks, though.

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