Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thinking Inside the Box

compartmentalize transitive verb (kmpärt-mntl-z, km-pärt-)  To separate into isolated compartments or categories. compartmentalization noun In psychology, an unconscious defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, the anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, emotions or beliefs within themselves.

Who wants an extra helping of anxiety today? Oh, no, not me! Good, then! Let's put this concept/person/experience over here in a compartment all by itself. Sort of a mental safe deposit box where we can take it out and consider it/interact with it/remember it at leisure when it's more convenient. If ever. I happen to be painfully familiar with this little psychological trick. I used to do it. It gave me the illusion of control over things I had no control over and helped me get through the day. Conveniently allowing avoidance of dealing with the core issues that caused me to compartmentalize to begin with. The thing with my compartments is that at a time of tremendous stress and pain, they began to break down and spill out their contents. I started to experience panic attacks where I would break out in a cold sweat and hyperventilate for seemingly no reason at all. I endured this in silence for nearly five years. Until a point of nearly unbearable pain and isolation brought on by a series of very difficult life events that forced me into therapy. Welcome to my nightmare of depression and futility. My marriage was over, a serious love affair had ended abruptly, I was abandoned by friends and shunned by extended family. Eight years ago seems more like eons ago now. My habit of compartmentalization, brought on by multiple childhood traumas and perpetuated by the mostly normal stresses of adult life, was no longer working to make me feel safe and content. With the help of a trusted counselor I became able to deal with my life as a whole rather than a multitude of cordoned off fragments. It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy. I likened it to entering my personal anxiety storage attic, throwing open windows and letting in light and air. Then going about the difficult business of opening each and every dusty box, examining the contents, and finding a way through forgiveness and acceptance to live a more healthy and functional life. I recommend taking the time and effort to accomplish this task. I still have some baggage, to be sure, but I'm well acquainted with it and don't sequester it to the dark recesses of my psyche anymore. Indeed, life is messy and most of us are broken in some way. But it's also replete with joy and love, delight and discovery. And when you're free from keeping those compartments intact, you can focus your energy on much more enjoyable and valuable pursuits. Think outside the box. It saved my life in more ways than I can express.

You do one little copy/paste function because you can't figure out how to type all those weird pronunciation thingys and then you're too lazy to type the rest of the dictionary meaning so you copy/paste again and it messes up the rest of the post! Gaaaah! 


AndiBean said...

If you're referring to the discolored background of the text versus the normal background, I noticed the same thing happened to one of my blogs after revisiting the draft several times before posting it. Must be some sort of Blogger error. I was able to fix it in the HTML section of the post editing...I can help you do the same the next time we get together, or I'm sure Reid could help you fix it as well.

Regarding the content of your post, I have recently started decompartmentalizing a bit, myself. I give all due credit to my current partner and his ability to make me feel so comfortable and normal that I could almost puke (from happiness? Is that a thing?). Harder to come by than a therapist, but certainly much less expensive!

Bellona of Avalon said...

Just the realization that you have a certain unhealthy behavior, which was pointed out to me by my therapist, then given some tools to break out of it by her, is sometimes all you need. Then the desire to stick with it is imperative. My motivation was that I wanted so much to feel better and the better I felt, the greater my resolve became to continue with the effort.

A loving and understanding partner can be the absolute best support system there is! Puking from happiness!! Hahaha! I get it though! Experiencing happiness when you're accustomed to crappiness takes some adjustment!

And, yes, it's the discolored background that annoys me. Thanks for the tip!