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someone explain compartmentilization

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Yakamishi posted 5/26/2013 19:11 PM

I don't get it.

NoraLee posted 5/26/2013 19:21 PM

Will this help? It's from WS FAQ in the healing library.

Q: What Is Compartmentalization? Submitted by Fallen
A: We often use the word compartmentalization to describe how WSes are able to keep their married and secret lives separated. For many WSes, compartmentalization was a coping mechanism developed during childhood to get through difficult times, whether those difficulties were physical, mental or emotional.

A person who compartmentalizes has the ability to completely shut off one part of themselves into a "compartment." Many people describe this as putting difficult emotions or memories into "boxes" in their minds. Once the thought or feeling is boxed up, there is no need to revisit it. *Poof* and it's gone. Of course, this is not what happens, but compartmentalization also allows one to live in denial. If it's locked away in your mental closet, it doesn't exist. From the time I was a child, I compartmentalized any emotion that I could not deal with. I was not permitted to express anger or disappointment, so without a place to vent those feelings, I boxed them up in a virtual closet in my mind. Years of anger and resentment were 'stored' that way.

My BH and rarely had arguments because I didn't feel entitled to my anger or disappointment. I'd just shut it out. This was so normal for me that I wasn't even aware that I was doing it and when I started to feel things deteriorating between my H and myself, I couldn't deal with that. I didn't know how. I had no coping mechanisms at all. This compartmentalization keeps us in an emotionally immature place, because we're basically behaving like spoiled brats. Picture a 6 year old covering their ears and saying "La la la la la! I'm not listening!" If you do this long enough, it becomes an automatic reaction and you probably aren't even aware that you're doing it, or worse, you think it's a good thing that you CAN do it.

It's actually kind of scary that WSes can so effectively lock away those feelings. The ability to do this leads to some really hurtful behaviors- lying being the most hurtful, and cheating because it's linked to lying. This ability allows us to lie to everyone- ourselves, the OP, our BS, our families, coworkers and friends- all because we can lock away those critical or negative voices in the mental closet. Feeling a little bit guilty that you called the OP? Well? just lock it away in the closet. Lied about where you were? Well lock it up in a box in the closet and throw away that key!

There is a price to be paid, though, for doing this. Most times, D-day blows the door off that mental "closet". All the ugly things that have been locked away through the years must be dealt with. Now, not only does the WS have to deal with all the crap in those boxes, the crap is overflowing like a clogged sewer and it has polluted the BS too. We have to face the truth about ourselves and our fears. It makes recovery a bit more difficult too, because not only do we have to deal with the aftermath of the affair, we must also sort through the stuff in those boxes and love ourselves through that process.

The more you practice talking out your feelings when you feel them, or at least talking about them at an appropriate time soon after you feel them, the easier it will become to face painful emotions. One day, after some effort, you may realize that you don't really need to compartmentalize anymore, and that you enjoy being honest and transparent.

ms521 posted 5/26/2013 19:24 PM

It's the act of dividing up your life into separate segments. For example, "work" might have it's own compartment. "Family" might have another. "Friends" could be another. Etc. A lot of WS are so good at compartmentalizing their lives that when they're home with their family, they're not even really thinking about their A or their AP. That's a different compartment/different part of their life. The flipside is that when they're with their AP, they're not thinking about family.

BS's can compartmentalize a bit too - especially if we've chosen to NOT go public with the experience. My friends have no idea that WH and I are struggling right now. They see us laughing and joking at parties, out as a family, etc. Basically, I've put his affair in a little box and I shelve it when I'm in public because I want to keep it private. I take the box down and open it only when I'm alone, or when WH and I are "working on things."

Does that help?

UKlady posted 5/27/2013 08:14 AM

NoraLee - I cannot tell you how much what you have posted here has helped me. I am new here and have never gone into the WS section - too scared in going to read things that'll make me mad.

My H and I are trying to recover from his A last year and struggling. He is very supportive, doing all the things he should - though I struggle immensely in that he is supporting me recover from something he caused......

Anyhow, your response to this helped because one of my many and often repeated questions is 'how could you continue seeing her while still loving me?' 'how could you see her on a day and then come home and be with me as if nothing had changed in your world?'

Although he hasn't been able to articulate it in the same way he has tried to explain how he kind of separated what he was doing into a 'box' and that his life with me was the good one, the genuine one, the one he wanted. I haven't been able to understand this but after reading this I feel I have a bit more of a clue now.

I have also just shown this to my H who became tearful and said he could have written it word for word. He isn't part of SI but is happy for me to show him posts or read them to him.

Thank you again.

NoraLee posted 5/27/2013 18:24 PM

I'm glad it helped - I have another link I love to share from the WS's - it was posted elsewhere as well - its call "what every WS needs to know - understanding your betrayed spouse"

If your H can do the things listed in the article - freely and out of love and the desire to see you'll be worked for me!

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