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The Fine Art of Compartmentalization (or the God Box)

The Fine Art of Compartmentalization (or the God Box)

The Fine Art of Compartmentalization (or the God Box)

I walked with a friend last week and we talked about compartmentalizing. A subject near and dear to my sober heart. In the past few years, I have learned to carpe diem like a trooper. I learned there is absolutely no joy in catastrophic thinking. Rome may be burning (and it’s a bit too cavalier to fiddle), but there is no point in worrying incessantly about what will happen if the wind picks up. Or for that matter, to wish for rain. Some things are better left to the hand of God.

 

The God Box

My brother used to call this tendency to over-think a problem, “God questions”. For example, my mother would ask my dad worriedly, “Is the sun going to shine today, Stan?” Or on the occasion when he had us tossing stem to stern in a storm surge, on the Great Lakes in his trawler, “Are we going to die Stan?” Questions my father tried to answer (“Yes,” and “No,” respectively), but was unqualified to do so. Questions my mother asked (usually on vacation) in a surfeit of unhelpful, catastrophic thinking, while my brother and I got out the rain slickers and battened the hatches.

 

My friend said the best thing to do when circumstances get tough, is to compartmentalize – put the things outside of your control in the “God Box”.  She was talking about some family members’ behaviors she could not change. I was intrigued. She didn’t mean she was putting her head in the sand (something we both did when we drank). She meant she was taking care of the things she could take care of and forgetting about the rest. Easier said than done, right?

 

Here’s what I do to compartmentalize…

And I’m good at this, since I got sober. Compartmentalizing is about control and letting go. Let’s use my mother on vacation, on a stormy sea, for example. I know exactly what she was thinking. Here we go again. I do not feel comfortable with Stan driving this boat in fourteen foot waves. I don’t work all year for this. I can’t swim. If we go down I will drown. Who will save me? No one will help me! And why are we in the situation again? Doesn’t anyone look at the weather map? HHHHHEEEEELP!!! I’m going to die!

 

Catastrophic thinking. When you compartmentalize properly, you take responsibility for the things you can do and set aside those you can’t do. Before another SS Minnow trip with my dad, my mother could have asked to look at the weather map with him and review his plans for the trip. And she could have asked for his contingency plan if the weather went tits up (as it always seemed to do). Without anger or panic.

 

When the inevitable tempest happened, she could put on a life-jacket (conveniently stored beneath her bench seat). She could even help her children tie down those things that threatened to blow away. And because she had anticipated the potential problems and knew the escape plan she would not have to extrapolate her watery death. As to how long the storm would last – she could leave it to God and get out the Monopoly board…

 

This method can be applied to almost any situation.

 

Where Does God Come In?

In early recovery, we are taught to surrender to a Higher Power and admit that we are impotent when it comes to our substance of choice. I am a rebel about most rules, but this is a concept I have never fought. Why else did all this happen to me if not to, somehow, follow God’s plan. It certainly would not have been my plan to center my life around the next bottle of plonk.

 

Or to have to suffer my way back to sobriety. But there must be a reason, tucked away in my “God Box”. These days, I actually do take it one day at a time. I plan for the future, but I don’t live in the future or the past. And I don’t try to strong-arm a problem, or get myself into situations where I am answering  the “God questions”.

 

Control what you can, compartmentalize and leave the rest to your Higher Power … and get out the Monopoly board.

E2E You are in our God Box for now…
 

Today I’m not drinking because my bottle of chard is in the God Box…

How come you’re not drinking?

 

Comments (9)

  1. Bob White
    Jun 16, 2017

    As many times happens when I read your posts, Marilyn, this was exactly the message I needed for the day. I’m so grateful: thank you! Big Love

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Jun 16, 2017

      Right back at you. And I am so glad this resonates…
      Love,
      M

    • Eva
      Jun 17, 2017

      Well said! Same here. Very timely reminder for me.

      Thank you!

  2. Beverly
    Jun 16, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    Because I have a hilly 7 mile run tomorrow and it sucks to do such a thing with a hangover.
    I’m not a believer, but I can relate to the idea of letting things go that I can’t control. By definition, worry can’t improve those things. Focusing on what I can change gives me power.

    • Charles
      Jun 16, 2017

      Try asking God for guidance and pay attention when it comes . If you don’t pay attention , then it just the coincidence. I have witnessed too many great ” coincidences ” and miracles to not believe , but that’s between me and God . No one will ” believe ” my story
      Alcohol takes that spiritual connection and puts a wall up between the drinker and God . I lived it for many years and now receive miracles on a daily basis that I can see and feel now . Not like before to where it was the “Proud” omnipitant me . Not sure if I spelt that correctly ..lol
      I am a very hard headed individual too that doesn’t put up with any BS from anyone , but can tell you first hand that there is no denying something that is greater than all of us . This world is but a spec in space .

      • Marilyn
        Marilyn
        Jun 18, 2017

        Omnipotent. But I get your drift. And I totally relate to your proudness. Beautiful words. Thank you and welcome!
        XXXOOO
        M

  3. Tim S
    Jun 16, 2017

    Time for a joke.

    A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an
    emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood
    the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate
    immediately.

    A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying
    to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a
    divine miracle to save me.”

    The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and
    there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man
    declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

    As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a
    man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into
    my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No
    thanks, God will save me.”

    The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the
    man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by
    and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they
    shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time
    to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

    The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up
    to his rooftop.

    A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer
    came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I
    will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly
    to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

    Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man
    away and he drowned.

    When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my
    faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

    And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a
    canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were
    you looking for?”

    Aterrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an
    emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood
    the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate
    immediately.

    A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying
    to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a
    divine miracle to save me.”

    The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and
    there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man
    declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

    As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a
    man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into
    my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No
    thanks, God will save me.”

    The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the
    man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by
    and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they
    shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time
    to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

    The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up
    to his rooftop.

    A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer
    came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I
    will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly
    to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

    Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man
    away and he drowned.

    When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my
    faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”

    And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a
    canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were
    you looking for?”

    Moral of the story:

    Put on the damned lifejacket!

    • Tim S
      Jun 17, 2017

      Sorry, I don’t know why it duped. Cut and paste error apparently.

      • Marilyn
        Marilyn
        Jun 17, 2017

        The joke so nice you told it twice… I laughed out loud. Exactly. Xxxooo M

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