There comes a moment in every healing journey when it becomes clear that pretending just doesn’t work anymore. It did for a long time, though…and it can be absolutely gut-wrenching to let go of the make-believe world we once knew.

Pretending can be a brilliant form of self-protection for children forced to cope with harsh, confusing realities they’re not equipped to handle. In the gaping absence of intangibles they can’t live without, they fill the space with storybook versions of life, and the crayon-colored constructs of a child’s imagination become the reality they need to believe is true. Welcome to Lala Land…

In Lala Land, Daddy notices me and would give me a big hug…if he didn’t need “just one more drink.” In Lala Land, Mom never yells. Marriage is bliss. Life couldn’t be better. We loved it there…we felt safe and loved and happy and free there. Lala Land was our favorite place in all the world.  

As adults, of course, we know the realities of life…that we’ll experience sadness…that grief is inevitable, natural, and healthy. Our younger selves, however, may not be quite ready to live a grown-up life. They’d rather stay right where they are…skipping along the shores of Lala Land. I love it here! Why in the world would I leave? Do I have to?   

This is that moment that comes to each of us…eventually, hopefully…when we’re forced to accept what we can no longer deny. We may not like it, but we do have to accept it. And as painful as it is, acceptance allows us to grieve unbearable losses and begin sorting through the pieces of our past for hints that help us understand the impact of circumstances and choices, the actions of others, and the reasons we keep repeating behaviors we hate that sabotage our true happiness.

Do you have to? Why unearth the past? {Good questions.} It’s over, gone, irrelevant. Right? {Wrong, and you know it.} Many a mature-sounding rationalization is nothing more than a grown-up version of that brilliant childhood ability to perfect the art of pretending…taken well past the point of being a healthy and viable option in adulthood.

These are tough questions, I know, but the time has come to give an answer…so brace yourself. The grief of leaving Lala Land is real, and no amount of pretending can change that. But those who mourn will be comforted. Those who seek Truth will find it. And…if you’re willing to learn the lessons buried beneath the ruins of your flimsy facades, leaving Lala Land can lead to a life you never imagined…even on your best day as a child.

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