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Denial is a River in Egypt

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Monday, October 05, 2009

I saw that on a sign about 6 months ago when I went to a rehab facility to see a patient. I was curious as to what the significance was, so I asked one of the therapists. He said it's a favorite saying in group therapy when one group member is in denial and starts making excuses for his or her drug or alcohol issues -- justifying behaviors. The group will shout "Denial is a river in Egypt". No denial allowed!
For some reason through out the week following that visit the sign kept haunting me. "Why was it bugging me?" I asked my very wise 27 year old daughter. I'm certainly not in denial about anything! She rolled her eyes." Oh mother, you are so in denial about a lot of things"! "Like what"?? I asked her indignantly.
"Well for starters, how about the 15 pounds you put on last year after finally reaching your goal weight"?
I wasn't in denial, I protested. I was embracing reality. I launched into the role that menopause and hormone replacement therapy plays in metabolism and cruised into the effect that the steroid inhaler that I use for my asthma has on my weight. "Oh", she wondered, "so the french fries and cheesecake you ate last Friday had nothing to do with it"?
Still indignant, I told her all about our "set point" weight. You know - the weight you can comfortably maintain without starving yourself?
This time it was her turn to get indignant. She manages a food bank for a local charity in Omaha and is well versed in hungry people. Starving, she told me is not being able to afford lean cuts of meat, fresh produce and vegetables, and bottled water anytime I want. Think pictures of children in Africa with swollen bellies! Or right here in the USA, children being poisoned with lead from the paint chips they are eating because they are HUNGRY!

Well, maybe starving was the wrong term. Maybe I should have said without depriving ourselves. She snorted. She told me to make a horizontal scale 1 to 10. 10 being the things that make us the happiest. No problem. Family. Love. Faith. Grandchildren filled the line. "Where", she asked me "is the notch for tenderloin"? Then she really hit below the belt. Remember when our son died and his ex-girlfriend took their daughter and left the state deciding not to include us in her life? Of course I did. Nothing was worse than not getting to share in our granddaughter's life. Ok Ok! THAT was feeling deprived. (Thankfully that fence was mended and our little granddaughter is back in our lives.) Not saying no thanks to the cake the co-worker made and brought to work.

What else am I denying? "That you can't run", she told me. "I've tried", I told her defensively. Many times. My knee hurts. I get short of breath - probably from the asthma. And it's not like I don't do other cardio exercise. I do! She reminded me that I had said on more than one occasion that I wished I could run like her. Give me a break I'm 26 years older! Maybe I did say that but I've since discovered that some people - like 52 year olds - just aren't meant to run. "BS", she replied. "If you don't want to run and are happy doing other cardio just say so, but quit making excuses"!
She challenged me -- "Run with me", she said.

We started out from our warm up walk and the first thing she told me was to slow down. I wasn't in a race. I slowed a little. No! Slow way down. I felt like I was shuffling. Now slow your breathing, she told me. Keep going. But people are going to look at me for running so funny I feared out loud. Nonsense she said. People who don't run aren't critiquing your form. People who do run are saying "Newbie..." and "Way to go"!
Every time I wanted to just stop, she gently said come on you can do it. She kept my pace and shuffled right along with me. I saw the school coming up. OH MY GOSH! That's 1/4 of a mile!!I've never ran 1/4 of a mile in my entire life!! I remember in grade school having to stay after school because I couldn't run it during PE class and the sadistic gym teacher made me stay until I did it. Right before I threw up. Maybe that's why unconsciously I wanted to be a runner...
My daughter smiled at me and said now I could walk. She told me to do the same thing again the next day and only go further after one week of that 1/4 mile.Add a 1/10 of a mile a week. Now I am up to 1 1/2 consecutive miles on the treadmill with another 1 1/2 run/walking. My pace has improved considerably. I love to run! The first half mile often starts out with thoughts of why on God's earth is a 52 year old trying to run? But, after that I'm on cruise control.I feel like a runner now and am looking forward to a 5K and maybe even a 10K someday!

Anytime I'm faced with unhealthy food choices that look just too appealing, I think of the scale. No, not the one that weighs you. The 1 - 10 scale of happiness. And I put good health and longevity so I can enjoy my family and grandkids waaay above a cheeseburger or movie theater popcorn.

So those 15 pounds are gone again along with my denial. Hopefully never to return again!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wonderful words of advice!
    2725 days ago
    THANKS!!! I was eliminating old emails from an account of mine and found your blog. I really appreciated it. Denial is BIG for all of us in many ways. I see so few movies in the theater that I'd hate to go without popcorn, but, as you said, maybe we should think about what really makes us happy and face our denial of the consequences of our actions.
    Thanks again and hey you CAN run a 5k if you want - no problem. Just take it slow, good shoes and good running socks (these are important if and when you start getting blisters - trust me), and drink lots of water :-)
    All the best
    2964 days ago
  • MARTINT011
    This was a good biog! Denial, I sure use this one, and especially like the Scale, the one for health and a future with grand kids, you don't need to have that movie popcorn after all emoticon
    2995 days ago
    Thank you for recommending your blog post to me. I really enjoyed reading it. I'm looking forward to becoming more active on here. When you're inside your own head most of the time, things become static and you're afraid you can't accomplish any change. I ran a bit last year on my own and it felt wonderful. I needed to be reminded of that. emoticon
    3047 days ago
    Amazing! I am SO proud of your accomplishments. It is SO motivating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and progress!

    Over a year ago I would have never thought I could run. I could hardly walk a distance without being out of breath, but since then I have come a long way, but starting out small and working my way up. I don't run every day but I hope to soon. But, I actually LOVE to run. I never thought I would say that, but I do.

    Have a great day!!
    3054 days ago
    this is a wonderful article to start the new year with..I especially relate to a relationship with a daughter..I have 2 and we all inspire each other love the article emoticon
    3066 days ago
    This was a great blog! How wonderful that your daughter convinced you to try. I really related to this story because I always said I couldn't run, too (also because of old fears from high school gym class). A few years ago I was walking daily with a neighbor and one day she said, "Let's run instead of walk." I was like..."Oh no, I CAN'T run." She persuaded me to try for just a few seconds and I was so pleasantly surprised. Then she persuaded me to run each day on a more secluded part of our walk where "no one would be looking at me." It became a regular part of our routine to walk, run and finish with walking. I'm so glad she convinced to try!
    3118 days ago
    Loved how you used the words "Denial is a River in Egypt" for inspiration to achieve your goal of the 15 lbs. lost and to exercise/run. emoticon emoticon
    3118 days ago
    Loved how you used the words "Denial is a River in Egypt" for inspiration to achieve your goal of the 15 lbs. lost and to exercise/run. emoticon emoticon
    3118 days ago
    That is a great story! Thanks for sharing it with us. =)
    3124 days ago
    HOLY cow....399 people liked this blog!!
    If that's not a testament to how awesome you are, Joanne, then I don't know what is!!

    3124 days ago
    Thank you and Thank your daughter....
    3125 days ago
  • VXWALL1942
    Thanks for sharing...and motivating. I'm making this blog one of my frequent return visits. The "river in Egypt" is my new mantra!
    3125 days ago
  • NRLB75
    You owe your daughter a big kiss/hug from all of us sparkers. I can't think of a better demonstration of love. Way to go on the run & losing the 15!
    3126 days ago
  • MONICA2052
    Thank you so much. I've been drowning in the river of Denial.
    Love, Monica
    3127 days ago
    Great blog! Thanks
    3127 days ago
  • SUSAN20855
    You are truely an inspiration! I am so glad I tripped over this posting.
    3128 days ago
    This is a great story, thank you for sharing. At 55 I have been feeling some of those excuses creeping in and this helps to keep them where they should be kept, non-excuses! emoticon
    3130 days ago
    What a great story! Sounds like you have an amazing family. Congrats!
    3131 days ago
    I really loved this...my mom and I had a similar-ish conversation about her so-called limitations with exercise today. I know she can do it...she has before. Denial is strong but I'm just going to keep reminding her that she's stronger. And lead by example! Thanks for sharing! emoticon
    3132 days ago
    So encouraging; thanks for sharing!!
    3133 days ago
    I am so there with you; in denial that is. I need to get up off my bottom end and get it moving literally. I really needed this today.
    3133 days ago
    What a well-written blog post! Funny, insightful, right on!
    3134 days ago
    You're very inspiring, I've tried to start running more and I'm working up to it. Though I just had dental surgery so I can't push my body to far. Congratulations on pushing yourself! It's impressive to see someone reaching for a new, and wonderful goal. I wish you well, and maybe I can get up to your motivation!
    3134 days ago
  • OSTERA15
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been working to leave the river behind, but after reading your daughter and your perspectives I wonder if I'm really trying my hardest.
    3135 days ago
    Well, thanks alot, darn it! Now I must face my own excuses. That answer (Denial is a River in Egypt is going on my bathroom mirror). Oh how I need to get a grip. Congratulations! Now it's still...my turn to get going.
    3135 days ago
    you're an inspiration. I don't ever want to run long distances, but I NEED to be able to sprint after a two year old. I've been busy telling myself "I can't... because...." I think I need to work on my denile issues. thank you for sharing.
    3136 days ago
    That was awesome. I used to be a runner. How funny, I thought that since I'm 30 and overweight and my knee hurt that I wouldn't be able to do it either. Thanks for showing me my excuses are exactly that, excuses.
    3137 days ago
    Good Work!! In response to your comment about other people watching you shuffle and feeling funny, I run and your daughter is right, any time I see someone exercising that is clearly new to the process I always give quiet encouragement now matter how uncoordinated or pained the person may look. We are all out to support you guys!!
    3137 days ago
    Well done..!! I've not read any of the other comments.. but am thinking I will give it a go... and try and run.. even if only slowly around my house to-morrow... I'm now almost 68yrs old and have been thinking I'm well and truely past all that... but then again... why not give it a try... I haven't run more than about 5 metres since I was in my twenties more than likely...
    thanks for the incentive... cheers Joan. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3137 days ago
    This was great! Thanks for sharing your story! I can appreciate your "no running" sentiment. I, too, have recently decided to give running a try, and I was thrilled when I realized on my first morning that I had jogged one whole mile and briskly walked another! It is quite an exhilerating, victorious feeling, isn't it?

    Good for you! Keep it up!
    3138 days ago
    Great Inspirtion..
    3138 days ago
    I LOVE this blog. Such a great way of putting it. Congratulations to you, and hoorah for your daughter being so open and honest with you..and for going WITH you on the run.
    3138 days ago
    GREAT BLOG!! WONDERFUL way with words! Go you!!
    3139 days ago
    You got me jogging today!
    I read your blog when you posted it and took to heart what your daughter said about running "wrong". I have been doing just that and today I decided to take the challenge. With the dog next to me we set out to do a 2 mile "run" (slow jog) and every time I got tired I slowed down and kept on going... great advice. It really worked! I made it to the 2 mile marker and walked briskly back. Now I will increase my distance and speed.
    Thanks to you and your daughter!
    3139 days ago
    Great story !
    It remembers me at a slogan that was put on a sign, near a 'runners race'.
    It was something like: 'those who want to reach something are looking for solutions. The other ones are looking for excuses.'
    For the moment, I know that I am still looking for excuses, but the slogan did not go out of my mind. So maybe, I just need some time to use it.
    Enjoy the running and congrats !!
    3139 days ago
  • SHOPGIRL1960
    What a wonderful blog! I have always wanted to be a runner. I had the same P.E. teacher and physical symptoms. I have wondered since if my body could do it at this age with a somewhat troubled knee and back...but now... after reading what you have written...perhaps I will never know until I try. It would be a dream fullfilled in my life.

    Thankyou SO MUCH~!!!
    3139 days ago
  • NETTIE197
    Great blog. Food for thought.
    3139 days ago
    This is so me! LOL! I thought I couldn't run, and refused to even try for the longest time. Then I did. I'm improving my speed and endurance all the time and now I am challenging myself with interval speed training. Good job on crossing your Egyptian river (Denial).
    3139 days ago
    Wow, inspiring, makes you feel you can do anything. Good luck and take care, NM
    3139 days ago
    I have loved and used that saying for years and it works best when you say it to yourself. You may have to say it a few times to yourself as you don't always listen to the important things you say to yourself.
    3139 days ago
    this is so very motivating I have stop trying to eat better and I always make an excuse not to exercise thanks for sharing this it opens up our eyes and our mind not to be in denial like you say
    3139 days ago
    This is a keeper...Thanks!
    3139 days ago

    3139 days ago
  • DAM136
    Thanks for the encouragement. Sounds like me with the denial and I am also 52 and got the same messages in high school. Kind of funny how those kind of things stick with us. Since reading your blog I've been trying on my treadmill to speed it up and do some running. I'm actually looking forward to taking it outside and giving it a try, and will keep trying.
    Thanks again.
    3139 days ago
    I love your blog! You are indeed an inspiration, and only yesterday I made the decision to begin running, so that I can get in all the benefits of running. Like you, I'm also 52, and really hated the school running that I was forced to participate in. I haven't attempted to run in quite a while, but there's no time like the present, eh?

    Thank you!
    3139 days ago
    well done on your journey so far hope you feel as great as you look
    3140 days ago
  • ROYALTY1022
    Great story, thanks for sharing and the encouragement... emoticon
    3140 days ago
    What an awesome blog Joanne! It just goes to prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. You are doing so amazing and you're such an inspiration to me. Thank you SO much! I needed this today.
    3140 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3140 days ago
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