Denial, You Beast!

Do you ever live in denial? I mean, really, really live in denial? Like true, honest to goodness DENIAL.

I don’t mean like the type of denial where you fudge your weight on your drivers license (yes, we all do it) or the type of denial where you should balance your checkbook and just haven’t “gotten around to it”. What I mean is the type of denial where you need to look really hard at yourself or a situation that you’ve found yourself in. That’s what I’m talking about.

Denial was defined by Freud (Wikipedia backs me on this) and he labeled it as a defense mechanism where a “person is faced with a fact and is too uncomfortable to accept it and rejects it instead”. It doesn’t matter that there is a ton of evidence piling up around said fact. Basically, as a person you kinda get scared senseless and don’t wanna deal.

I’ll goes first; Hi. My name is Anne Kemp and I love denial. I do, I do, I do! (Say that like the Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard of Oz”. I did. Made me laugh!)

I probably have had a better relationship with denial than I ever had with any man – well before therapy. I’ve actually learned over the years to allow myself denial for a brief time then I have to face whatever the demon is I’m running from head on.

Is it fun? Nope, not one bit. But I’m not a girl that is known in social circles for her patience. I’d rather “rip the band-aid off” than slowly peel it back. But that’s just me.

My dear friend Abby is also a “denialist” from way back. I think when I stepped down and threw away my Active-Duty Denial Crown, Abby found it in the dumpster and put it on that hard head of hers.

She is a genius when it comes to denial. In the past, she denied that she needed to pay her bills – which led to her becoming terrified of answering her phone due to all the creditors that were calling; she denied that her car needed to get an oil change…twice – resulting in both cars completely dying on her at the worst possible times; and she denied that she had a problem in one (ha! All) of her relationships – until it was over.

Look, I’m the first to admit that no one’s perfect. We all just wake up and try to connect our own dots everyday, right? No one sets out to screw up their job because you didn’t complete your project in time, resulting in the loudest silence ever at the board meeting right before you had your butt chewed out in front of everyone….right?

Look at Abby’s denial of anything that happens with her boyfriends. Seriously, it’s an addiction (I mean, it has to be!). No matter what, at some point while with someone, she shuts down just a tiny bit and stops paying attention. Sometimes she projects, blaming it on them and their actions, but we all know the truth. She denies that she has stopped loving them, or in the case of one ex, denies that he has all of his own issues (alcoholism, gambling, drugs) to deal with. She pretends he’s fine or they’re fine and keeps moving on.

***Disclaimer: Abby said a few of her ex’s fall into the description above. So, please, don’t be narcissistic and think it’s all about you. Cause it isn’t! ***

I think denial can come in handy for severe issues, like trying to fit my size 7.5 feet into my new vintage Dolce & Gabbana Mary Jane’s. I’ve never been a shoe person, but these are flipping brilliant! I wear them, and it hurts like a mother. I can only wear my Uggs or Converse for days after. Why do I do it? Cause I’m in denial. Or am I just an idiot?

Denial comes in all kinds of lovely packages: denial that your marriage or relationship has changed, denial that you gained a few pounds (so you still try to squeeze into those True Religions you love so much!) or denial that a parent is becoming the child right in front of you. Denial is there, all around you, me, Abby…I think it’s more of a common thread these days than anyone wants to admit (cause they’re in DENIAL!).

I guess denial can be a positive thing, though. I’ve just proven to you that we are all in this together. And if you deny that I’m right, well…We all know you’re lying, cause you are in denial of my rightness (see what I did there? Boo YA!).

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Anne Kemp writes a regular column for

Enjoy the Silence…

It is so quiet at my house this morning. I’m still in bed, the dog’s asleep at the end and one of the cats has snuggled in next to me. I wish I could say that I was in bed because I WANT to be…no, not the case. I’m here because the doctor has asked me to take bed rest. You see, apparently I am fighting off pnuemonia. Nice, huh?

When I say it’s quiet – well except for my hacking – it’s because last week I FIRED Time Warner. Yes. I did. I had a lot of reasons for this, one of them being I am addicted to television. I know I am, I always have been. It’s my escape. Now that I mostly work from home, it’s not a good addiction to feed. Instead of doing things I should be focusing on, I would watch another episode of “Charmed” or “90210”. Yes, I did just say those out loud. So what? Back off, ok? I’m fighting pnuemonia.

Now, being sick, I find that I miss the lull of the TV in the background, droning on but giving me company. You see, I had planned a very busy week for myself so I could not be around my “addictive” living room. Now, I am faced head-on with my decision and instead of being out of the house, flitting through life and not having to flip through channels, I am here realizing how much weight I put on having cable. Dumb huh?

A lot of this could be the meds or the sickness talking – eh. Who knows? I have some rented DVD’s for when I absolutely need to watch something. I also have the power of internet and Hulu! Yay for 2010 🙂

Most of all, I’m looking forward to just having quiet time. Maybe I’m Bohemian? Or brilliant? Hmmm…you decide 😉

How To: Properly Use Emotional Blackmail

Whatever happened to the good ole days when emotional blackmail was all the rage and manipulation was viewed as “okay”? No? Was I dreaming? Hmmm…maybe I was the star of a soap opera in another life.

Emotional blackmail can be used by us or against us – either way, it’s a true form of blackmail. I have family members that use it, and they are well-practiced (you know who you are, Mother…) and I’ve also had good friends attempt to utilize this approach (“Are you sure you can’t just swing by and help me set up for the baby shower? Remember the time I helped you move? That was fun.”). It’s a form of manipulation that can never end well. Someone will emerge from this confrontation a little worse for wear. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides.

My friend Abby has used emotional blackmail on boyfriends (or on boys who are friends) that she wants to get to do something. Whether she has gotten them to help her with an Ikea “put-this-crap-together-yourself” project or when she’s sick and needs medicine or soup, she could teach a master class on manipulation. She once even used this tactic to get one of her good friends to sleep with her (or, since my nephews and nieces read this, she wanted him to help her ‘hang some pictures’).

How did Abby do this, you ask? Well, Abby had returned to LA after a death in the family. She admittedly used that scenario as her catalyst to lure a friend over, make him dinner so she could “talk” and then…well, let’s just say they hung a lot of pictures that night. Apparently, once all was said and done, she needed to finish the project they had started, so he came back over another night to ‘hang some more’. I suggested they volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (sarcastic much?).

If done correctly, emotional blackmail can be entertaining. I like to pull this on my family members, especially if they think they have the upper hand. Now, the rule here is to use it on your elders every once in a great while, as they are more practiced in the art of any type of blackmail. For reals. But those younger than you?  Two words – OPEN. SEASON.

My nephews, Dan and JW, are my usual victims. Tis true, and I say it here openly because they would agree with me. I started them fresh at a young age.  I would threaten to take away my love or toys in order to have them help me with a project around the house (FYI – They are more like my brothers as we are only ten years apart. Please don’t think that someone in her thirties is torturing her five or six year old nephews!). Dan, the older of the two, still remembers that I would beg him to rub my neck or feet and promise him money. He recently tried to convince me I owed him at least a semester of his college tuition – I pretended I couldn’t remember.

(For the record, I probably do. But you can’t manipulate the master, Daniel. Puh-lease.)

Am I condoning this? Nah. But I feel like we all need to be aware that this form of relationship warfare is alive and kicking. You can use it or be abused by it – It’s up to you.  Keep your eyes and ears open for it, and practice throwing back.

Remember that time I told you about emotional blackmail? Now you owe me one…