So, it’s really cold outside, 20 degrees cold. For a Louisiana girl, that is arctic, apocalypse kind of weather. I haven’t left the house for three days. Louisiana people have a strange way of coping with cold weather. We complain about it incessantly, but we do not wear warmer clothing. Somehow, wearing a proper jacket, insulated pants, or a hat would be compromise, giving in, collaboration with the frosty enemy. (We make one exception - outdoor sporting events - specifically hunting and football - where we stand in the cold and kill things or watch things be killed - be it dreams or deer. I digress.) Why won’t we just put on the warmer coat and the fleece pants?
I have an answer: winter denial. We live in Louisiana! It can’t be cold! We live here BECAUSE it’s not cold. Surely this is just temporary. And of course, the weather does trick us enough to make our denial seem rational. Some days it starts off at 30 degrees and ends at 65. Regardless, we hustle from our cars to our houses to our jobs with inadequate clothing and feeling of mystified justification. We whisper to ourselves all sorts of stories. “Even if I had the right clothes, I’d probably still be cold! People from Michigan say it is colder here. It’s a wet cold - no curing that.” And on and on, we justify our denial and refuse to take actions that would solve our problem.
Winter denial is a quirky cultural habit of the south. It makes us colder than we have to be for longer, but its generally harmless. There are other kinds of denial that aren’t quite as quirky and cute. We can live in marriage crisis denial, refusing to get extra help, until it's much too late. We can live in parenting denial, believing that somehow we don’t have to be intentional with our kids and everything will just be fine. We can live in health denial, not doing the things we know to do, even little things like brushing our teeth, until suddenly the snowball of many small choices comes crashing down. We can live in stress denial, ignoring the pain of a life too crammed with urgency and priorities that are completely out of whack until BAM winter smacks us in the face and we feel frozen in time. We point to the bright spots and say, “People like me don’t get divorced. People like me don’t suffer burnout. People like me don’t deal with depression. People like me don’t get sick.” At the core, the message is clear. It is denial. We are whispering, back turned to the storm, “This struggle wasn’t what I signed up for. If I ignore it, maybe it will just go away.” Only, it won't go away, not for good, because it is that season.
This year, this time, this winter, go put on a coat. Your life wasn’t meant to be lived in denial.
(If you are looking for a list of books to help you get out of your winter denial stage - try these. They have done wonders for me!)