Impenetrable optimism is the story of sour grapes lived again and again in the life of an individual. A fox saw some red, ripe grapes hanging invitingly from a vine high above him. No matter how high he leaped, he could not quite reach the lowest of them. At last, in exhaustion, he decided to himself, “Those grapes are probably sour, anyway.” Like the fox, an impenetrable optimist cannot face the pain of wanting the grapes very much and not being able to get them. He is not willing to acknowledge that the grapes are probably as delicious as they look, and that he still is not going to get them.
When an impenetrable optimist cannot get what she wants, she believes that she does not want it. The opposite is true. She wants it, but she cannot get it, and not getting it is a painful experience for her. She sees herself as carefree, but she is not. Her concerns are as important to her as the concerns of others are for them. the difference is that she cannot acknowledge the depths of what she feels. She would rather pretend that she is not disappointed than feel the pain of her disappointment. An impenetrable optimist uses optimism to shield herself from painful emotions.
This pretense masks pain of unmet expectations, pain of loss, fear of failure, and fear of rejection. It is impenetrable because she is unwilling to face the realities of her circumstances. She pretends they are not as difficult as they are. She sees herself as a victim—at the mercy of forces she cannot control—but she will not allow herself to feel the pain of being a victim. She pushes aside the powerful emotions of sorrow, despair, anger, fear, jealousy, and rage. She presents to herself and others the appearance of happy acceptance.
Eventually, the discrepancy between the pain she feels and the image she projects becomes so large that she cannot maintain the image. The shallowness of her life cannot be denied. Despair follows that is too great to be ignored, and a healing crisis begins.