Compartmentalizing my life was something I was totally unfamiliar with.
Coming from dysfunction I learned that I had no boundaries because my initial instinct to protect myself from hurtful things was punished, guilted and shamed.
I learned to talk about everything all the time to everyone because in dysfunction I was responsible to know all things and reveal all things. I was not allowed to have a sense of “self” or any of my own thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires or wishes. Often this kind of boundary violation included the reminders that my body was not my own as well…
I literally had no idea where I began or ended.
I was a chameleon and became what my circumstances demanded.
So as I became a chronological adult – I was very much stuck in that childlike place where I had no privacy, no sense of self, no limits and no understanding of what was appropriate or inappropriate behavior for myself – or others.
Every day in all of my relationships – whatever was going on in my life bled into all areas of my life from neighbors, work, family and friends….I had no sense of limits. I had no way to compartmentalized and understand appropriate boundaries. I had no clue as to what was appropriate to share so I shared it all.
All the time.
My physical health, my “therapy”, the problem I was having with so-and-so, the “narcissistic” boss, the “anti-social a-hole”….that I didn’t get my laundry done, that the neighbors were keeping me up at night…the rash on my leg, that my daughter was _____, my son was ______, I was ______.
Get the picture?
Everything and all of my relationships were about me.
And I fully expected “you” to do the same.
The end result being that we could have a really great bitch & moan about how awful life was and what victims we were to everyone and everything, how hard we were working this thing, how difficult it was to get “help”, that no one “understands” just. how. hard. it. is..
The other part of the deal was that my relationships were often rocky and filled with power struggles as we tried to fix and rescue one another, getting irritated when our “advice” wasn’t followed…
“If you/he/she would just _____ then everything would be ok”
Yet – as I traveled this path to wholeness and well-being I discovered that this particular trait was the trait that often violated others healthy boundaries because I expected them to be that “open book” and would feel intimidated by their healthy boundaries – often interpreting this as though I had done something “wrong”.
A natural response for someone from dysfunction who had carried the burden of being “good enough”….
And I couldn’t understand why those who appeared to have healthy relationships ie: a life and relationships I admired from a distance – often pulled back or why I felt uncomfortable around those who did not engage in this kind of daily drama and what I now understand to be deeply inappropriate chronic self disclosure.
At the same time – I found myself continually engaging in relationships that seemed to oddly resemble the dysfunction I came from….
As the “hero” – I had all the answers for everyone…except myself. I could jump into any crisis…yet…I couldn’t manage my own life day-to-day.
As the perpetual “victim” – I truly believed that I was powerless over my own life and had no idea that I didn’t have to put up with chronic abuse and dysfunction.
As the “perpetrator” of wounds on others – I would often rationalize butting in, bullying or engaging in manipulations or power plays so I could be “one up” and justify my bad behavior and efforts to control my environment by controlling others.
Learning to compartmentalize my life and relationships was hard at first because I didn’t understand that in doing so my life would drastically change – for the better.
That I would feel less stressed and more rested.
That I would no longer feel the drive to have others approval in order to do what I wanted to do.
That I would no longer feel afraid of what others might think or say.
That relationships and reactions did not have to always be painful or volatile.
That I would finally find some focus and feel empowered to create my OWN life.
That I would finally be able to take care of and learn to resolve my own issues and problems when I let go of trying to solve everyone elses.
That I would learn its ok to have many friends and many interests and each of them could be separate.
That I could say “I don’t want to talk about that” and not die from fear.
That I could have my own thought, feelings, opinions…
That I HAD my own thoughts feelings and opinions.
Yes. Learning to compartmentalize my life has paid huge dividends even though I’ve had to let go of some relationships where it was not ok to say “no”.
Learning to live my “best life” began with creating my “best self” and to do that I had to learn to see myself as a “me” vs a “we”.
There is a fine line between interdependent and dependent.
Enmeshment and enabling are different from being empowered.
It felt “normal” to be that “open book” because it was all I had ever known and I was naturally drawn to those kinds of relationships as an adult where I ended up recreating the same or similar dance of drama as in original dysfunction.
Learning to separate myself and see myself as separate from others enabled me to shift from unhealthy enmeshment and enabling to understanding what the word “empowered” meant.
I finally began to see that I held the power to create the life I wanted and….
If it was to be…
It was up to me.