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That isn’t what “U-Haul” used to mean…

May 24, 2011

Ever met someone who could just box up their shit and walk away from it? Their relationships, their behavior, how they treated someone else? Who could say all kinds of amazing things, including admit to feeling amazing things… and then just *suddenly* be done?

Ever wonder… how the fuck do they do that?

Yeah. Me, too. I’ve never understood it, either.

Until now.

I’ve already mentioned my struggle to feel something (anything really) regarding my Really Super Bad Shit. In addition…

I feel like I’m starting to move on. Like I’m starting to… act normal.

That doesn’t seem right. Sure, I had that one major meltdown where I was completely overwhelmed and wasn’t really sure how to proceed with my life (or even get off the couch). And, yeah, it made me a zombie the next day but…

Back to not really… feeling. And starting to act all… normal.

Here’s the thing. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been through some heartbreak and some shit. Even a somewhat abusive relationship (what do I mean “somewhat”?). One of these things left me sobbing on a fairly routine basis, unable to cope or accomplish anything (like getting out of bed… or getting any sleep). The other made me feel like I’d never be normal ever again… and I may have developed a brief predilection for using the other person’s cocaine razors on, well, myself (so there are things I haven’t told you about yet…).

But you know? Neither of these things involved, oh I don’t know, my sister attempting to off herself, ending up in a coma, and completely and utterly altering not only my life, but my parent’s lives as well. And the horrible hospital staff stuff too.

And yet.

Did I spend a week and a half in bed unable to stop crying? Or so desperate with the pain opening up my own skin felt somehow like relief?

Nope. Didn’t. Had a meltdown. Started seeing a therapist. Don’t really cry any more. On my merry little way.

I’ve become… a  compartmentalizer.

Just boxed that shit right up. Even if it might be more than one box. Might be enough to fill the largest truck you can rent with a driver’s license

I never thought I would understand those people who could compartmentalize their lives. Their emotions. Their relationships. Their affects on other people. And just la la la walk away.

I do now.

And here’s something I can hardly admit: I even understand the not-caring part of it all, too. Part of the oh feeling normal now! me is… let’s not care about all that life altering shiz-nit any more k? me, too.

I don’t expect anyone to understand it, I don’t myself (except that I do – but doesn’t make it sound any better). But. Right now? It’s easier… not to call. It’s easier… not to think about it. It’s easier… to pretend.

And all of that? Means… it’s easier to just not care.

Not on purpose… I don’t mean to. It’s just… that’s in a box on the truck somewhere and figuring out which one means interrupting what we’re in the middle of and maybe it’s waaaaay at the back anyway… And in order to be ok with not finding it, I can’t care about it. But of course… if I cared about it, I’d go find the box. Except I can’t find the keys. Or the truck, for that matter. So… maybe I don’t really care that much after all… it’s a vicious cycle, really.

You know what though? Saying I understand The Compartmentalizers isn’t really true. It’s more like I… get it. How they do what it is they do and move on. Because look mom! I can do it, too.

But. I don’t understand them. And not just because I still don’t understand the inability to give a shit about how you have treated some one else, or the ability to just say whateverthefuck you feel like, no matter how little you mean it or how much it means to someone else. I don’t get those characteristics that seem to be fairly typical of the Compartmentalizers I’ve come across. I don’t understand them for a couple other reasons too.

One? Oh, maybe the fact that I’m not actually ok with my brain packing my shit on a giant U-Haul truck instead of allowing me to process it first (and then hiding the keys…and the truck). Maybe I’m not alright with it being inaccessible to me at present. Maybe knowing that I reacted like that to pain and heartbreak in the past, while not reacting anywhere near like that to this Fucking Gigantic Shit doesn’t sit well with me.

Maybe I am not ok with packing my shit in boxes and being done with it.

The Compartmentalizers? No problem. Whew! Glad I don’t have to think about that anymore!

Two? Are you people (the Compartmentalizers) fucking kidding me? You treat someone like crap and you get to compartmentalize that shit right out the window? That’s all you did, and you get to just shut down?

See, the thing is, sounds like our brains compartmentalize for a reason. One thing I am holding on to for dear life so all this makes sense is something my therapist told me (I swear I am not going to turn into a “my therapist told me…” person): I can’t process this all at once. That compartmentalizing is allowing me to continue my life… because if I didn’t do that, I might not be so good at functioning at all.

Which, actually, sounds a lot like my lil meltdown so… I’ll buy it.

So yeah. This is Some Shit, man. This is the Shit that is ok to compartmentalize (for now anyway). Being a douche canoe? Is not. So as much as I can now comprehend how it is you do that? Stop it. You’re reasons for boxing it up? Aren’t valid. Unpack the damn truck and deal with your shit already.

One day I’ll be able to (after I find the truck and the keys). And if I can do it after all this? You sure as shit can too.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011 11:40 am

    Hey Niks!

    I don’t understand emotional detachment myself. Sometimes I just want to choke these people just to get a rise out of them- just to see if that will even work because nothing else on the world ever does.

    People who are emotionally distant are often cup runeth over. And it’ll all spill out eventually. To me, it’s such a sad way to live.

    • May 24, 2011 2:32 pm

      Yes… perhaps physical pain would be helpful to waking them the fuck up… buuuuuuut pro’ly not.

      And you’re right – the end result is to see them for what they are and stay the F away.

  2. May 24, 2011 1:39 pm

    Treating people like crap and then just walking away and boxing that off .. that is unacceptable. That is just cruel and I cannot understand it all.

    However… compartmentalizing when shit happens and you need to deal with it a little at a time… yes I can actually understand it. Mainly because I have done so myself in the past, sometimes without realizing. It is a weird feeling when you can look back at something bad that has happened to you and you can replay it almost like a movie but the feelings associated to it are muted or totally shut off. Yes, it is a lousy way to deal with things cos they do have a tendency to come out anyway somehow but sometimes it is needed. It is almost like an emotional survival instinct but it must be a temporary one. And never an excuse to treat others badly.

    • May 24, 2011 2:35 pm

      Agreed – it is something we do as a survival instinct. The important point is to recognize it as such and be prepared to deal with whatever it means over the long term. To be self-aware enough to notice how it impacts your life and how you treat others. I think it’s tough because I don’t deal with things this way and it’s very alien for me but… sometimes, yes, it appears necessary.

      The problem is when it becomes a habit and the way in which you avoid dealing with *anything* – most notably how you treat other people. And, really, yourself.

  3. May 24, 2011 2:17 pm

    I completely know how you feel. After the stuff with my ex husband, my sister, having my breakdown and all the custody stuff I went through I have to shut off a part of myself or I wouldn’t make it though the day. It’s a survival mechanism, and while those can become defense mechanisms, and unhealthy, I think if you are aware of what you are doing it can get you through the total shit times.

    • May 24, 2011 2:36 pm

      Yes. This. I had to really be given permission to compartmentalize, but I think it’s sometimes the only way we can get through the shit. Like all your shit. How do you stay a functioning mom/partner/adult without being able to put some things in a box for some time?

  4. May 24, 2011 2:17 pm

    Fabulous post and dead on for many, I’m sure!
    Compartmentalizing does not always mean that someone doesn’t deal with their shit…it means that they don’t wallow in it! I have been called the “queen” of compartmentalizing, by most who are close to me and I choose to carry the title as a badge of honor. My files are filled with ex-lovers, an ex-husband, ex-best friends, and even a mother. My filing system allows me to view each future relationship as separate from the one before. It helps me to realize and learn the lessons from my previous relationships without hanging them around the necks of new ones. So “Cheers” to the compartment, closet, file or u-haul that stores your excess shit because without it life would stink!

    • May 24, 2011 2:43 pm

      I wondered about being too general with “compartmentalizing”… I think, for me, I meant putting it in a box and never looking at it again BECAUSE that made it easier for you now. You know? I have met/know of many people perfectly capable of this, and just walking away like nothing happened. That I am not ok with.

      However. You make a *perfect* point. Perhaps I was too general. Your point about the flip side of organizing it all is absolutely right on. Keeps us from bringing the baggage from the last person (who was a dick) to bear on the new one (who isn’t). Also allows us to see clearly specific events (etc) and learn from them – just don’t pack it away and never look at it again every time something bad happens!

  5. May 24, 2011 2:20 pm

    I compartmentalize too. I think it’s a defense mechanism sometimes…as your therapist alluded too, a bit. You can only take so much, so it’s your body’s way of allowing you to feel some of it and ‘not care’/compartmentalize the rest until you can. You are doing great and I hope you know that…from the outside looking in, you are trying to heal and move forward and deal with people treating you like shit (NOT COOL), and well, enjoy your life just a little bit too, which you should. don’t feel guilty for that or feel like you can’t. You can. ((hugs))

    • May 24, 2011 2:49 pm

      Hey thanks, love. I really appreciate all the love and support! It really helps being able to put my shit out there and be told “it’s ok.” I know it sounds small, but it’s not! It’s easy for me to feel guilty… because I am in *such* a foreign place emotionally and mentally just dealing with this – let alone the fact that everything is different now, etc.

      As long as we always take time to unpack, or make sure we don’t need to and it belongs on a truck we then leave behind… amiright?

  6. May 25, 2011 6:48 am

    I have no advice, just a story:
    My therapist once told me that we only deal with what we can handle dealing with… At the time I didn’t understand – I though I WAS dealing with the sucky situation I’d found myself in. Unfortunately it took me something like five years to be in a space where I could actually deal with it… So when all the trauma, and the SUCK hit… It had five years of momentum behind it. I didn’t get out of bed for days.

    I’m kind of glad I had those five years, because I know that if I’d had to deal with the SUCK on top of the situation… I’m not sure I could have done it, and I’m glad I didn’t have to try.

    My conclusion: Therapists are sometimes right. (Who knew!)

    • May 30, 2011 9:00 am

      Yeah… sometimes this thing hits me… but I’ve been told it will take some time. I have two friends with very sick parents, and they say it hits them at strange times. One said she didn’t cry at all when she found out, but then she broke down in the middle of a bike race six months later and had to be picked up.

      I think there is something to be said having the time to process slowly. And for therapists!

  7. May 25, 2011 11:21 am

    you know, i am one those people who TRIES to get the Uhaul going. But, i never can. I wear my feelings on my sleeve and if i even try to push them aside one day i just explode. i’m getting a little better at managing it in my old age, however.

    I have never understood those who can just have the worst thing happen and make it appear like it didn’t even affect them. But that’s just the thing, i believe it DOES affect them, just not in visible ways, like it does with me. I’ve known a lot of jacked up people in my life who have been like this and they usually aren’t the healthiest people. It always manifests in other ways, whether they take it out on future relationships, or they self destruct. I don’t believe anyone can truly flip a switch. Even if they think they do, it will resurface at some point. how can it not? But i see what you’re saying about the difference.

    • May 30, 2011 9:03 am

      Agree completely. To your first point, I also wear my heart right here where everyone can see it (I can’t even fake nice). Part of the reason the way I am dealing with this bothers me is because I am so used to having my feelings *right here* in front of me… and it was very concerning for me when they weren’t in this situation.

      And, yep, I know those people too. I learned the lard way you need to avoid those people, because they are *not* healthy. But yeah… apparently there is a difference. … I hope… I don’t want to be one of the crazy people… although I don’t doubt this will manifest itself in weird ways, places, and times… I will just be prepared and will know what it is when it rears its ugly head…

  8. May 25, 2011 8:26 pm

    Another post that makes Denny sad that he can’t read.

    • May 30, 2011 9:04 am

      Oh Denny… I can teach you. Private sessions.

  9. May 31, 2011 3:36 pm

    I echo all those above who speak of survival. One of the things that sucks about this process is you can’t just say you’re going to deal with it and do the work. You have to do the work as it comes up and as you are ready. Sometimes the time/place are convenient, often they aren’t.

    Several years ago I was extraordinarily happy. My career was in high gear, I was with a fantastic guy, I was thin… (hey, sometimes it is the little things that make me happy) And you know what happened? I had my ass kicked by some long tucked away trauma. I recall being angry with my therapist (I had to get one after the break-through I experienced… breakdown makes more sense, but alas, I’m not the Ph.D.) The thing she said that stuck with me and actually still pisses me off is that I wasn’t ready to handle the pain and crap until I was in a good, stable place emotionally and physically.

    I “get it” now, but a head’s up would have been helpful.

    Compartmentalization, such a loaded word, I think I will reflect more on that in the coming days/weeks.

    As for douchebags/asshats some of them have personality disorders that they will never see or acknowledge. They often look like normal people, doesn’t mean they are. I’m not saying it is acceptable I am saying trying to understand how or why is sometimes an exercise in futility. Part of the “trauma” I mentioned before has to do with having a narcissitic mother. Talk about having something buried. Unpacking the “mother doesn’t love me” box is still something I’m doing. Like Pandora’s box, it just keeps on giving! My mother did what she needed to do to survive, some of us were collateral damage.

    Your self-awareness will continue to serve you well as you experience this way of coping. Do what you need to do to get the toxic stuff out. I’ve found some rather unusual ways of processing some of my pain…meditation, yoga, oh…and Hello, I am into BDSM… it isn’t for everyone and I do still see a therapist.


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