I am continuing to work my way through the almost 1,200-page book, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand and am really enjoying it. I came across another quote that I am mulling over and wanted to talk about with my readers:
That woman and all those like her keep evading the thoughts which they know to be good. You keep pushing out of your mind the thoughts which you believe to be evil. They do it, because they want to avoid effort. You do it, because you won’t permit yourself to consider anything that would spare you. They indulge their emotions at any cost. You sacrifice your emotions as the first cost of any problem. They are willing to bear nothing. You are willing to bear anything. They keep evading responsibility. You keep assuming it. But don’t you see that the essential error is the same? Any refusal to recognize reality, for any reason whatever, has disastrous consequences. ~ Atlas Shrugged, pp. 417-418, emphasis mine
I am finding this idea to be true in my own life, and I suspect this is true for many people who are reading this.
I have talked about this concept as applied to child abuse numerous times. To survive the abuse, abused children lie to themselves about reality so they will not lose hope. They tell themselves that the abuse is their fault so they can avoid the reality of having no power to make it stop. If the abuse is “my fault,” then I have the illusion of control over the abuse – if I change my behavior (stop being “so bad”), then I have the power to stop the abuse. The alternative is to accept the reality that the child has absolutely no power to stop the abuse, which as Judith Herman points out in her book Trauma and Recovery, would result in the one emotion abused children cannot afford to feel – utter despair.
Sadly, the refusal to recognize reality runs much deeper than in childhood. If that is where the self-delusions stopped, we might be able to process our child abuse in adulthood and then be done. That has not been my experience. I feel like I lived most of my childhood and the first 15+ years of adulthood “asleep.” Since beginning the healing process, I keep awakening to more lies that I need to unravel. I thought healing would only be about dismantling my childhood lies (it was my fault, I deserve to feel shame, etc.), but so much of my life – in just about every aspect – is filled with lies that help me avoid reality, which has had “disastrous consequences” because I do X, expecting Y, and Z keeps happening. This brings me back over and over again to challenging my premises.
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