Yesterday, while having coffee with one of my dearest friends, I finally got to talk about all that's been going on lately. She observed that compartmentalizing is a powerful coping strategy for me.
Yes it is.
I don't know how I'd survive the many situations and emotions pulling me in such diverse directions if I couldn't lock things behind doors and not be constantly overwhelmed.
It's been like this for as long as I can remember.
My brother has been ill since a tumor was discovered in his 9 month old kidney. I was just over two—that's too young to remember but I've been told of out of state treatments, of my mother staying in the hospital with him for days on end, of having her parents keep me up late at night so we could spend time together when she finally got a break. In the ensuing years we never talked about what he'd had, all that had and was going on, but there was always an undercurrent of something tragic and huge below the surface.
There was my sister's stroke, when I was a freshman in college. 3 months maybe after my father left. He'd told me the previous December, two weeks before he told my mom. And then he moved out the day after my high school graduation. I think my mom might have gone into the hospital for surgery that day too. Memories get fuzzy sometimes. From that point on, he's disappeared from my life for significant stretches. Years would go with no contact. His wife? Let's just last week and they both told me never to contact them again.
This latest blow out as my brother and I face major surgery. He's living with a catheter in his chest for dialysis, at best a short term solution until something better comes along. We're all hoping my kidney is his good news. But, should we be matches, and I pass all the testing, they won't know until he's on the operating table and open whether his scarred body can fit a new organ.
Yet another box I have to manage.
I write here often (and I've been called out for incessant whining) about the many struggles I face. Most are things many of us deal with: aging, body, parents, kids, school, work, relationships—it's a long list. There are some that are more specific to me: anxiety, fear of breaking down, living a creative life and the inherent ups and downs that go with it. The precarious balance of being a mother who works, at other things, at home.
What to make for dinner.
How to read the knitting pattern I'm struggling with.
And so, for me, if I didn't have all my boxes, my closets, the ability to shut out, close off, turn the volume down on the above, I'd never make it through the day. A day. Any day.
Perhaps assimilating it all, processing, dealing, talking, working through would be healthier.
But the thought of that terrifies me.