I am very good at compartmentalizing. At a certain point in my life, I had two options. Get good at compartmentalizing, or just keep falling to pieces every day until some very deep wounds healed.
So I learned to make these little boxes in my head. I’d put the hard things I couldn’t deal with yet into a box, close it up, and concentrate on something easier, like figuring out how to sell a lot of women’s underwear on the internet.
What I eventually learned was that the boxes were like the bulkheads that were supposed to make the Titanic unsinkable. There’s a limit to what they can hold. Past that point, it starts to spill over into your daily life, like it or not. And you either find a way to empty those boxes, or you sink. So from time to time, you have to go through the boxes and purge.
Some of the time, by the time I got back to a box, whatever was in it had dried up and desiccated and I could just throw it out altogether. Some of the time, I had the energy and resources to pull it out and actually deal with it (especially if I had a good counselor at the time).
Some of the time, I slapped that lid back down as hard and fast as I could before the still-writhing beastie within it lunged for my neck. “Yep, that one’s not ready to come out yet. Back you go.”
Over the years, I’ve discovered that you have limited closet space in your brain for the boxes. You do have to deal with all the stuff, eventually. If for no other reason than to make room for the fresh horrors that life springs on you from time to time.
I started last week addressing the box that held my mother’s passing. It’s grown lighter over the years. It’s no longer a writhing beastie waiting to strangle me in the night. It’s simply a sad and cumbersome thing I can’t quite let go of.
I ended the week tucking away the image of small children who saw their last Christmas too soon. That one still has claws.
Boxing it away won’t keep me from praying for those parents and families and that whole community. It just keeps me sane. It lets me keep working so I can provide for my own kiddos.
Have a good week, reader friends. I hope the only boxes you need are those that hold gifts for the ones you love.