Ever wondered what it’s like to feel lost in it all? Chances are, you already have.
Denial is perhaps one of the most horrifying things you’ll find in life—and it’s no closet boogeyman. Denial has no solid shape, lives in all climates, and is a disease which can effect anyone and everyone.
Lovecraft once said “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” But there’s something which can be just as fear-striking: demons festering because we are blind to them. We allow the unknown to live in ourselves, and dismiss the suffering of others.
One of the first things that comes to my mind, is the character of Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” He struggles with anger and alcohol, and though he knows his problems exist, they remain inside him as waiting vessels for the evil inside the Overlook Hotel. Often times, the nasty things inside us are opportunists. They stake out times of stress and hardship, and will bleed through into our actions given the chance. Most healthy people will see this taking place, and act accordingly. They manage their problems before they become serious.
But some people never see these problems, and that’s when it become horrifying.
When you can’t bring yourself to accept your situation and your problems, all aspects of life take a seat on the decline. It can be easy to lose sight of empathy, and close yourself off to other perspectives. As soon as you’ve lost touch with others, you’re only a few steps away from abandoning reality.
And your view on your situation can be as beautiful or as ugly as you paint it out.
Those who view things in the negative this way, can be painting themselves as victims. They place their anger and frustration on others and at their situation, and they resist the urge to look at themselves in the mirror, because they know they’ll be unhappy with what they see. At worst, they find peace in bringing other people down.
All of these things are bad, but the worst, is realizing there’s nothing you can do about it for others. You will inevitably encounter people suffering in denial, and see it in yourself. When you try to hold a mirror up to someone, it’s likely they’ll spit on you—depending on how unreasonable the person is—even if you only have the best intentions. It is rare for someone in deep denial to accept another perspective without trying to point their finger at you.
The best people—those who are worth your time—will look at their mirror no matter how much it may pain them. They accept the pain, and do what’s best for them so they don’t have to carry it around anymore. It’s admirable. It’s also hard to do.
But no matter how bad the pain may be, it is always better to look. Always better to see the world around you. Because when you deny what’s there, it will rot you from the inside out. Accepting reality is how people stay resilient in the middle of chaos. It’s how people pull themselves out of seemingly hopeless situations. Though you may not be able to help others with denial, the best thing you can do, is hold tightly onto your own mirror. At the very least, you can set an example.
Denial is the whole reason I write horror. It has everything to do with staying in touch with reality—even if that reality is hideous and unspeakable. Horror is the challenge we face in life, and ignoring what we fear allows other problems to develop. It scares me to ever see denial in myself, and it scares me to think how denial effects others.
So much pain can be avoided in knowing. Perhaps that’s why choosing a word for this letter was so difficult: many possible subjects, and many possible approaches to those subjects. Denial is important in understanding horror as a genre, and why people create and consume horror content, which is why writing this seemed more than appropriate. It’s not uncommon to be asked why someone would write about horrible, scary things. Sometimes it’s important to look at what scares us. It’s how we move on as people, and as I mentioned, keep resilient.