Compartmentalizing starts at a young age. For example, you may listen to your parents argue night after night, but when you go to school the next day you act as if everything is fine; Perhaps your mother told you how worthless you are, or you wonder why your father doesn't come home. How can you possibly talk to someone about these things? It's too painful. No one knows what your internal personal life is like or your thoughts or feelings. You learn the dysfunctional family rules: don't talk, don't feel, don't ask. While everyone compartmentalizes to some degree, it becomes a large part of emotional survivorship when you are raised in an environment of chronic loss, fear, and chaos. I cried when I gave up my pizza. Like most Americans, I also worried about not getting enough calcium and protein in my diet. It took me a lot of self-teaching to understand that so much of our calcium and protein comes from the beans and greens we are eating. It took me four years to admit to others that I had an illness. I always felt that if I said it out loud, people would judge me or think I was less adequate as a physician, as a mother, and as a person. Now I realize it is because I have an illness that I understand and connect with my patients better. I can relate to their reluctance to take a medication. I feel their fear as if it were my own. I feel their helplessness and anger as the fire in my own heart. I also know now that, at the end of the day, we are all affected. It has a nice ring to it right? It's from the common motivational phrase, originated by Jim Rohn, You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

It's, apparently, also rooted in a Bible verse. Proverbs 13:20 directs that we, Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. A companion of fools. That would be a tough conclusion to come to, especially when you have been with the same friends and family members for years. As you were growing up, these people were always there. The many memories and stories bond people together real tightly. It's oftentimes the foolish stories that bond people the closest together! I remember I took a 24-hour road trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Denton, Texas, to see my older brother DJ a gig. This ability to compartmentalize can set up many men to lead highly secretive, compartmentalized lives. It is a learned skill that enables this particular addiction. I was very skilled at living in two worlds, or even three--home, work, and my outside world of sex. They were different compartments of my life that were never to meet. I was masterful at lying and simply couldn't allow myself to think about my work colleagues or wife finding out about my secret life. Since I was a kid I've been skilled at living in different worlds; I lived with terror at home, so I'd escape into my sexual fantasies, and then find relief at school. So it came easy. As I said, I was skilled. Each day as I left my family home and went into the day, it was as if I crossed an invisible line. Then, it is about learning to avoid environmental triggers and nurturing our bodies with a plant-based diet, low in oils and refined sugars, and undergoing lifestyle changes, such as increased sleep and more vigorous activity. It has taken me a long time to embrace my disease.

I have learned that it is not illness that defines us but, rather, how we respond to it that makes us who we are. A person like me who was so controlled and rigid falls hard when illness hits. I blamed my poor daughter for being the cause of my illness. I was angry for a long time. But now I feel healthier than ever before. My cholesterol is super low. My inflammatory markers are nonexistent, and I take no medications. I am strong. He had been a DJ for several years in the Dallas Metroplex, and even got voted as the Best DJ in Dallas by Dallas Magazine twice! I had never seen my brother DJ, so I thought it would be fun to drive down there and see him in action. I convinced three other friends to join me for my quick 24-hour trip. To my surprise, the venue my brother played at was not a dancing venue. It was, really, just a chill bar with a stage in the back. Nobody was in the mood to dance at the venue. You had the typical rustic feel that comes with a burger and bar joint. Out back, there was a spacious outdoor patio with seating, gravel floors, pool tables and dart boards. In the back of all the seating, there was a stage, where a DJ could play music for visitors or a country band to play classic songs. This was not the dance venue I had pictured in my mind. I didn't think twice about how what I was doing would affect my family life. I truly didn't think about it.

Such thinking on the part of the addict may be difficult to understand. His inability to empathize with your situation is a testament to the darkness and pervasiveness of addiction. It is also just as possible that as the addict has compartmentalized unsparingly, so have you. As a young girl, I learned how to compartmentalize, keeping my sex abuse in a box, separate from the rest of my world. I'd tell myself this can't be happening to me, or this doesn't really matter, or it doesn't bother me. That's exactly what I would do around my husband's addiction. As a child, I found that school was a wonderful source of validation. As an adult, I've found that validation through work. Two years after my diagnosis, I came off all of my medications. Soon after that, I did my first triathlon. Six years later, I remain off all medications. I feel great. I have learned to take time for myself. I have learned to laugh more and not worry so much about being late or about climbing a ladder. I thank my body every day for what it has to give me, and I forgive it for what it cannot. In some ways, the crazy thing is that getting sick was the best thing that happened to me. I have my girl to thank for bringing me back from a world in which I was drowning. I realize now that my daughter didn't make me sick; My friends and I were all expecting to do some fun dancing. This night could've been a huge letdown, until we started acting foolish.

Since my buddy and I like to dance, and we were expecting to dance, we basically said, To hell with it, WE'RE DANCIN'! So literally, for hours, in front of all these people eating food, it's just the two of us dancing in the middle of this empty floor. Everyone else is just watching us as we dance our butts off. From time to time, people would join in, but they would quickly sit back down and act civilized. We didn't care though. We came down to dance, so that's what we did. It didn't matter what people thought about us, we were just actin' a fool up there. You could consider this an innocent night of fun, but it is kind of foolish behavior, right? Throwing myself into school and/or work helped me to stay separate from the pain and confusion in my life. I am so compartmentalized! Having kids helps--they keep me so busy. I dive into the Mom role. I think in some ways compartmentalizing has kept me from going crazy, but in the long run it allowed me to ignore what was happening in my marriage. Because I had no direction as to what to do about my situation, facing reality was too much. So like recipes clipped from a magazine, I filed the truth away as if I planned to get back to it later. As a partner, you project to the world one image while internally living another, a well-developed habit you use to bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine while the house burns down around you. While we all compartmentalize in the course of a day, this severe and chronic form of compartmentalizing supports you in the denial process. Just as the addict in recovery needs to address the addictive nature of his behavior and learn how to get his needs met without being intrusive or exploitive of another person, both individuals in the coupleship need to examine how their belief systems, their emotional defenses, and their childhood wounding contribute to an unhealthy relationship. Learning the Meaning of MD Dr Jyothi Rao's Story