Originally published at VOTS
If I were to be asked to write a paragraph or two about my life, my current situation, I don’t know that I could do that. Yes, I could tell you in detail about this or that, but no, I don’t ever even think about all of it all at once, let alone lay it all out in black and white: It’s called compartmentalization, and I’m somewhat of a gifted practitioner. I’m aware that this is a defense mechanism, and if taken to extremes, people can become detached to their own emotions, trust me. That’s not my deal. In some situations, you need a defense, a way to get through, or you will not survive.
I have to get through, I’ve got people counting on me. I can’t sit and list every circumstance that affects me, because I’m not willing to voluntarily become overwhelmed. I’m not the type to be in up to my neck and look around for a deeper area to see how long I can tread water. Why would I do that? I gave in to my pain for years, and then I fought really hard to get my ass up out of that bed and make some kind of life for myself. That was 12 years ago, and today I have a life. I have a husband and two gorgeous boys that I never dreamed I’d have, and that’s worth everything.
But I would be lying if I told you it’s been easy, it has not. And it seems that over the past several years, life keeps throwing us one curve ball after another. I’ve written about parts of it. We lost our place to live, and what was supposed to be a short stay with my parents while we got ourselves another place turned out to last, oh…forever. Our youngest was diagnosed on the ASD and the services here are great, and there’s a backyard, and we would have the chance to save up to maybe get a house. We were right back on track, right? Not so much.
It soon became clear that the forgetfulness we had noticed from my Mom was growing worse. Dad always accompanied her to the doctor, but when I asked him what the doctor made of this worsening memory thing, he admitted that he didn’t bring it up, too afraid Mom would be pissed. I said: “Um, you could call and go see him alone, you know? You don’t have to tell him in front of her but you do have to tell him.” Still, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. I don’t know if it was that he was afraid of having what we suspected confirmed, feeling like he’d be betraying Mom. It doesn’t matter. I consulted with my doctor (in the same practice) as to what to do. I asked if I could write her doc a note, was that allowed. So, that’s how I wound up delivering a note with my concerns to my Mom’s doctor, and telling my dad afterwards. He was okay with it, maybe even relieved. I told him, “Hey. if it’s what we think, the sooner we can get her on medication, the better.” They said she had non-specific dementia, and it was then I knew I wasn’t going anywhere — I wouldn’t if I could.
That was over five years ago, and the hits keep right on coming. So, yes, I compartmentalize to a fare-thee-well. I’m not in denial and I handle what I need to handle. This doesn’t make me any kind of a saint, a martyr, or anything other than somebody who has learned to survive. Some days I need to take it an hour at a time, but I don’t allow myself to become miserable, my kids don’t deserve that, and neither does anybody else.
I do worry about what happens when I run out of compartments.~