We Interrupt this Life for a Meltdown

Have you ever been puttering along a normal sort of way, and then suddenly, without warning, found yourself in a big wet, messy heap?

Once when I lived in London, I drank a bit too much at the after-hours while working at the pub. I was walking back home around 2 a.m. and one minute I was  counting Smart Cars along the road, then next I was busted out flat on the ground. I hadn’t even tripped. As far as I knew. My legs just gave out. I giggled to myself and got up and walked on.

A couple weeks or so ago, this happened again, only I wasn’t drunk and I wasn’t alone on a dark street. I was sidetracked by a pile of life activities, and ended up inconveniencing someone by being late for an appointment. This person was royally pissed — that kind of pissed we all get when we aren’t pissed about the thing we are actually yelling about — and she poked her finger in my face and, well…


I disappeared into the meltdown.

I think I knew I had been holding a bunch of stuff down inside for a while. Not too many of the people who knew me were that surprised. Even so, it’s a hell of a thing to lose it like that. There aren’t any sympathy cards for “So You Completely Lost Your Mind for 10 Minutes”  at the CVS. Friends left me alone for a week, which was understandable, but also made me feel lost and unhappy.

Though it did give me plenty (more) quiet time to think and reflect.

We don’t have space in our lives any more for the dirty grime of life. We hardly know how to grieve. Keening is out. You could punch someone and that might be mildly acceptable socially, but legally it won’t go well for you. I overheard an obviously frustrated mother yelling at her 8-year-old son at Target tonight, over the din of her other screaming kid. She was hollering, “Push the fucking cart would you?” and I wanted to hug her because no Mom shouts fuck in public at her kid and feels good about herself.

There’s a lot of pessimistic, cynical negativity being thrown at us. Constantly, every other minute. Facebook statuses, and twitter updates, diametric political conversations that look a little bit like Forrest Gump practicing ping pong against a wall. I’ve noticed it in myself these last few years. I’m hard on myself, and I’m hard on the people who gather around me.

And why not? The vibration of the human world can often sound like hopelessness.

But then:


No, not a solution. Not an answer. Just a chance to do, as Pema Chodron says, to lean in to the feeling, and notice it, then to just allow the feeling to go. Then, suddenly you’ll look around and notice the clouds clearing. The meltdowns are always happening. It’s natural.

Ask the snowdrift what to expect.

But the breakthroughs of warmth and beauty are always there.

Ask the tulip bulb too.


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