The only thing worse than being in denial is being in denial and not knowing it.
I had come to my coach for help, and she had kindly brought to my attention that, although I could easily speak about the day my brother died, I could not address the truth of the situation. I had killed Billy. I had in fact been living in denial, hoping beyond hope that somewhere, deep down inside me, that statement wasn’t true. I had driven a tractor; Billy had died. End of story.
But, of course, that was not the end. My denial had been the stone in my path, the lock on my life’s door. I simply could not move forward until I had removed that stone and unlocked the door. I had to move beyond denial.
When you identified the negative emotion in Step One that has been haunting you for so long, you were immediately put into the position of making a choice. Like identifying the mountain lion that is staring you down on a mountain trail, you simply cannot remain rooted where you are and hope for the best. Now it is time for decision. This is moving beyond denial. This is bravely—and it really is a courageous action—facing the mountain lion in your life and deciding that you will do something. Keep your eye on the mountain lion, and slowly move away. Don’t rush this step—the mountain lion will interpret your sudden movement as a challenge and will race you, and you will lose. In the same way, squarely face the negative emotion, processing it thoroughly in your mind, taking some time to consider your moves. Then do something. In my case, after several weeks, I privately uttered sincerely the devastating words of truth: “I killed Billy.” Moving beyond denial was a big step in my recovery.