When compartmentalization fails

Image Credit: LFSMusings

The thing about compartmentalization is, you have to eventually bring back the hidden stuff and process it. I’m usually very good about that. I store things in different boxes in my mind, and then I make a list of what needs to come back out first and be processed.

It’s been different recently. I had so much going on that I wanted to box things away indefinitely. It was working for a while. I insisted that I was fine whenever anybody asked. I tried to show how powerful I was by focusing entirely on work and letting everything else just happen.

Major. Fail.

Months went by, and I still had not processed what I needed to. I was giving all of my energy to supporting other people while I wasn’t supporting myself. Insomnia was a nightly occurrence and my appetite got less and less.

I woke up everyday and when an opportunity arose for me to process, I thought:

What’s the point? Everything will go wrong anyways.

I lived like that for longer than I want to admit. I snapped out of it two days ago. At least, I think I have. There’s always a risk of me getting to that point again.

I got home from work on Friday night and thought about what I wanted to do over the weekend. I couldn’t remember the last weekend I spent not working. I went to take out my laptop from my backpack and stopped myself.

I don’t have to do this.

Instead, I took out my iPad (my main device for my more creative endeavors) and opened up Word. I started typing. Twenty minutes later I had an entire chapter to my latest fictional short story. I remembered the joy I had when I wrote before college. I was constantly opening up new composition notebooks and beginning new projects. Why did I stop?

I have a completed draft of a memoir. I have posts upon posts of educational blogs.

But writing fiction was so freeing.

I could write about anyone and anything. I could imagine an alternate reality and let my mind escape even for a few moments. And while I love reading (my bank account loves my rate of 2 books per week), writing has let me process the events in my life in a more “objective” way. I looked down at the words I had written and questioned why I can’t have a life where I am not working the entire weekend… where I can wake up in the morning and not feel intense anxiety about the tasks I need to complete.

I can. I just wasn’t letting myself.

No, I’m not quitting my life and moving to an oasis like a character in one of my short stories, but I am prioritizing myself more. I’m letting myself enjoy time with family and friends. I am okay with putting away work and just taking a night to relax. I am learning to embrace my failures instead of threaten my health by trying to avoid it. And what does that include? No more compartmentalizing everything and recognizing it’s okay to not be okay.


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