Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coded Communications.

I'm reading a book about codemaking and breaking during WW2. I've reached a point in the book ,where the author is convinced that the Dutch agents have been taken and turned, because they have stopped making mistakes in their Morse code transmissions. He finds this impossible to accept - it isn't "normal."

The agents have to quickly code, and even more quickly transmit their messages while exhausted, stressed, and terrified that at any moment they may be discovered by the Germans, with the inevitable result. It isn't remotely realistic that they'd make not one mistake in coding or sending, under those circumstances. (The author can predict the type of mistakes each agent is likely to make, based upon the ones they made in training.)
His superiors don't want to hear it. They're very proud of their Dutch agents, things are ticking along very smoothly, and they won't even consider the possibility that the Germans are in control.

It's an interesting book, both for the story, and for the way it gets me thinking repeatedly about the incredible power of denial.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

I've been familiar with that little gem since I was a kid, but before program, only had a vague idea of what it meant.  I'll never forget sitting in the lunchroom, at a place I worked eons ago, listening, for the zillionth time, to the lady from the front office complaining about her husband's drinking -  how it was affecting her life, and the life of her kids. Someone suggested she get counselling for herself, and her two little boys, to help them cope. She replied, "Oh, they don't know their dad drinks." When asked if he only drank after they were in bed, she laughed shortly, and replied, "No; all day, every day."
"How old are your boys?"
"Seven and nine."
"Well then, they know he drinks."
"No, no, they don't know that."

Various people tried to get through to her that this was highly unlikely, with stories of their own alcoholic parents, and how they'd known from a very young age, that something was seriously wrong. She was adamant - the boys didn't know.

At the time this discussion took place, I judged her for her denial. Today, I feel compassion for her awful struggle and unhappiness. When I recall that conversation, I wonder how her boys are doing, all these years later. I realise how many times I must have had the identical sort of conversation, with friends trying to get through to me, and me adamant about whatever it was.

I've learned in Al-Anon, that I cannot puncture someone else's denial. I've learned to respect that denial is a coping mechanism we use when the truth is just too painful to face squarely. I've used it many times myself, knowingly, and unknowingly, and will again, I have no doubt.

My part is to work my program honestly, so that I may be granted the ability to recognise and admit to my own frailties. I pray for sufficient open-mindedness,  to hear the help others may offer to me, whether deftly, or clumsily. I pray to be granted the ability to see behind the message to the person transmitting it, and not to get  lost in the "coding mistakes."


  1. Denial is a coping mechanism for a lot of things that we don't want to face squarely. I too have compassion for those not willing yet to see the truth.

  2. Denial, for me, truly was a coping tool that I hung onto way too long. My mind's power to create fantasy still boggles me. Alanon keeps me grounded, but only if I work and live the program consistently. A good reason I keep coming back...


  3. That's really interesting, Cheryl. What's the book called? I'd like to read it.

    Nice insights.