At seventeen he told me that he was never going to have children. I asked him why.

“I can’t do what you do,” he said.

Of course I know enough about psychological signs to know that he was telling me he intended to dodge the realities of life. I didn’t see what I could do about it at that time.

When he was about twenty, he was lethargic and sedentary. If I’d seen any other boy living in such a pattern, I’d have immediately guessed that he was a drug addict.

I was living in a distant city when my son called asking for money. I told him to go to my closest friend for it, and I’d pay my friend back. My friend, who is the founding president of his company, had a visitor in his office when my son was invited in to get the money.

As soon as the boy left with the money, the visitor commented, “The kid’s a junkie, eh.” It seems the visitor was a recovered heroin addict, and he recognized the signs. My friend was stunned, because he was in denial just as I was. As I said, if I’d seen any other young man with my son’s behavior, I would have known at once that he was an addict. But, because it was my own son, it didn’t occur to me, nor to my closest friend.

I warn you to avoid denial if you can. To subconsciously overlook something obvious is to succumb to denial. Denial can cause one to miss facts like your roommate is stealing your cosmetics; or the girl just doesn’t really like you. If you’re alert to denial, you might save yourself some unpleasant surprises.

Other people knew my son was a heroin addict. His mother and sister knew, and feared to tell me. I imagine the discomfort my friend suffered, when he knew he was going to tell me. That’s how I know he’s a true friend. He lives by a strong moral code, and recognizes that right and wrong are separate entities from legal and illegal.

Of course, the money I had given my son from time to time was spent on heroin. A star sapphire ring, a family heirloom that I passed on to him, went to the drug dealer I now realize. Similarly, a very elaborate breathing system I bought to protect him as he was working with fiberglass in the hulls of large sailing yachts under construction. I suppose he never used it, but traded it for heroin.

Beware of denial, because it sneaks up on you and could hurt you.

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