As I noted yesterday, Christmas 2010 was miserable for me. The pain was so overwhelming that I couldn’t get a grip on it and enjoy the holidays. Christmas 2011 was much better. I did about half of my normal celebrating. I decorated – just in time for Christmas Eve – and I cooked special meals and goodies for my family. No one outside the immediate family – I was not focused enough for that.
Here we are at Christmas 2012. I want to reclaim Christmas as my time of peace, joy, and love. How did I get from my miserable Christmas 2 years ago to enjoying Christmas now? God taught me to compartmentalize.
We talk frequently about how many cheating spouses compartmentalize their lives in order to be able to lie straight-faced to us and betray us in the worst possible way. Compartmentalizing like that is a defense mechanism that allows us to function while dealing with something difficult. If it works for cheaters in dealing with their guilt, it can work for me in dealing with my pain and depression.
I’m learning that it is indeed necessary, for me anyway, to compartmentalize in order to live life again. I need to push dark thoughts away and deal with them when I am alone. It’s not always easy, and depression is always there – when I push thoughts away, depression doesn’t disappear. It just goes into hiding, but is still close enough for me to feel its presence right outside the door. But I can keep that door closed for periods of time in order to enjoy the moment.
Dark thoughts do need to be dealt with in order to keep moving forward in healing. We can’t just push them away and then never let them out again. But we can box them up short-term if the pain has subsided enough. In 2010 my pain was too much to box up. Now I can do it for periods of time. Not all day, but for periods of time.
So, all that said, I am reclaiming Christmas as my time to celebrate the birth of my Savior, and to enjoy family, friends, and the traditions that help bind us to one another.