I always feel so much better after a complete meltdown that I should put them in my weekly calendar.
"Friday, 4 pm, mental breakdown."
Breakdowns empty out the cup - dumping out every emotion and worry, everything I didn’t even know I was carrying, and suddenly I’m all free and light.
Meltdown: 5 stars, would have again.
I always resist the break like mad. I do everything I can to avoid it. I grit my teeth and stuff my emotions into my spleen, because I’m not supposed to have feelings. I watch TV to stave off that wave of fear that really wants in. I eat a hamburger, because - well - I eat a hamburger because I’m hungry and a person’s gotta eat.
But once it finally overtakes me - usually because the universe pushes me to the edge of the cliff and boots me over - and I spend an hour or two sobbing and throwing a, let’s just call it what it is, temper tantrum, clutching my stuffed therapy otter until I finally drag my soggy carcass out for bagels. I’m still kind of cranky as I bolt down my bagel, but at some point, I begin to feel better.
Surprisingly better. Better than I’ve felt in weeks. Incidentally, just about as long as I’ve been attempting to stuff my feels into my spleen where I hope they’ll die a quiet and unremarkable death.
On the heels of feeling better after the ignominious breakdown usually comes an answer to the situation(s) that led to the breakdown in the first place.
(This time, my answer to the work breakdown was “It’s time to be channeling star families now. Yes, it’s weird, but is channeling aliens really that much weirder than channeling Jesus or unicorns? Right. So get on with it.”)
(My answer to the relationship portion of the breakdown was “Hold your self-worth and self- esteem and stay focused on yourself and your work, no matter what the other person is doing or saying or how either of you is flying off the trigger handle.”)
(Two very helpful answers, it must be said.)
But we usually have to allow the meltdown before we get the relief and the answers. Which can be really hard for those of us who fancy ourselves adults who no longer have meltdowns or maybe were scolded or shut in our rooms for having meltdowns as children.
(Which has got to be a conundrum for parents. I don’t pretend to have the answer for this. I’m just trying to parent myself the best I can and not be too hard on myself over the inevitable breakdown.)
But when we finally let it just flow through, the post-meltdown relief is palpable. It’s like you’ve emptied out the bucket of everything you’ve been carrying around - judgment, overwhelm, fear, sadness, worry, pain - and then tossed the bucket into the Pacific Ocean.
When we’re emptied out and feeling better, that’s when answers come.
So what if it requires four bagels, a stuffed otter, and a temper tantrum that would make a three-year-old blush?
Sometimes that’s what being an adult is all about.