I’ve been hearing that a lot lately, trying to compartmentalize so you can actually live life and not let your past overtake your daily existence. She, my therapist, has been trying to drive that point home for me in recent weeks, because she knows that I am a thinker, and over analyzer, and I have to try and understand everything.
Compartmentalizing can be both good and bad, as long as it’s not taken to extremes in either direction. Something I of course am an expert at, Extremes.
Wiki describes compartmentalizing in part as, an unconscious psychological defense mechanism... To me know, while I’m sure some of it is unconscious, some of it has to be conscious as well.
You don’t want to completely push aside trauma and keep it bottled up or tucked away in the corner of your brain and not deal with it. I did that for 3 decades. I thought my past was out of sight out of mind, but as I’ve learned, certainly not out of “affecting me”, if that makes any sense. Basically I didn’t deal with it, but it was always there affecting me in ways I didn’t even realize.
On the other hand, you don’t want to focus on it completely and push everything out of the way into separate corners of your brain; focusing only on the trauma. You end up alienating yourself from your friends, family, social life, and pretty much can’t enjoy life as it happens. I know that feeling all to well.
This whole thing of compartmentalizing has been something I struggle with in the healing process I have embarked on. Generally speaking, when I put my mind to something, I jump in with both feet, I’m all in, and I figure it out as I go. While that’s not really “bad”, it does tend to add a unique obstacle to try and deal with. I sometimes underestimate how much something is going to consume my time and my thoughts, or I just don’t consider it enough before starting out.
I started therapy in late January 2015, but it wasn’t until about mid summer that we started to begin to deal with my past trauma. Since then I’ve been all in:
- 100% committed to educating myself, and reading about Dissociation, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and Depression regularly.
- Reading self help books and learning how others deal with their past on a daily basis (currently reading 3).
- Trying to connect with my feelings and figure out why they happen and what they mean.
- Writing about my past on this blog (although this site has only started just under a month ago).
- Trying to understand my flashbacks more and embrace those feelings to connect the holes in memory of the trauma.
- Keeping daily track of my feelings on DBT sheets and Mood tracking sheets.
While these things are good, it really consumes most of my free time. It keeps me up at night sometimes, or occupies my brain waves when I’m on a break at work. All of this can potentially be detrimental to my healing, in the sense that it could prolong the already painfully long process.
Ya know what though, I can’t help it. It’s what I do. I have to understand what all this means, why it happened, why he did those awful things to me, how I suppressed it for 3 decades, and why in the world am I just now started to deal with it all. Like literally, why now? Why not 10 years ago, or 5 years from now? Right now honestly most of it all doesn’t make complete sense to me yet. I guess that’s where being an over analyzer might come in handy, sooner or later.