I was convinced that I excelled at compartmentalization. I’ve had a lot of practice. Then, a (that?) day happened!
Thinking back, I recognize now that I somehow failed to see myself properly. There were incidents, situations and signs trying to show me that the walls of the various compartments I created were slowly falling down. Perhaps my complacence was the culprit. Then again, we see what we choose to see.
PsychCentral has an article on 15 Common Defense Mechanisms. The fifteen defense mechanisms are subdivided into (1) Primitive, (2) Less Primitive, More Mature, and (3) Mature. Before reading this article, I seriously thought that compartmentalization were a mature way to deal with life. After all, long ago, I read that Bill Clinton was great at it. More surprising for me is that repression is less primitive and more mature, but it is beside the point.
The author of article, Dr. John M. Grohol, Psy.D., wrote:
Compartmentalization is a lesser form of dissociation, wherein parts of oneself are separated from awareness of other parts and behaving as if one had separate sets of values. An example might be an honest person who cheats on their income tax return and keeps their two value systems distinct and un-integrated while remaining unconscious of the cognitive dissonance.
And, cognitive dissonance causes one to deny, rationalize, intellectualize or compensate, in order to lessen the feeling of guilt. Life can be an incessant process of defending self.
I was advised to practice compartmentalization in order to avoid risking that which puts food in the table, and buys Jimmy Choo shoes. The trouble is when the Choos don’t cheer you up anymore, even just to mask the heart that’s not capable of a smile. Retail therapy could possibly chase the blues away, but it is a problem when you don’t like the mall so much anymore. Focusing on the bright side could help, but it is a struggle to distract the blues when the dark clouds are rather thick.
At times, even this doesn’t work.
The best one can do, if only for a moment, is take a deep breath, sigh even, accept the unpleasant predicament, uttering C’est la vie and Que sera sera, and hope (have faith, too) that tears from a heavy heart are temporary, like ships that pass…
This, too, shall pass.