Well, today it finally happened. I experienced a complete meltdown at work.
After months of showing up, (not an easy task in itself), taking on projects with an almost frightening zeal, and trying to prove to myself and everyone else that I was still the calm, reliable employee I once was, I finally cracked.
I’ve fought hard to keep things at bay. My mind has been working overtime to maintain my sanity and only let the reality of my loss sink in slowly. I’ve even tried, loosely, to keep my grief contained “to evenings and weekends” (ha!) – and the privacy of my car. I haven’t done it intentionally, it’s a self-protective mechanism. I’ve always processed things slowly, and quietly.
But grief is not something you can control, no matter how “tough” or logical you are, and combined with stress, which I had a lot of this week, it’s like a volcano, just asking to blow.
I suppose a “meltdown” could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I already had an incident at work where I stormed out of a meeting, slamming several doors behind me, which is completely out of character for me. I am not a door slammer! But this was different. It completely overcame me, literally dragging me down to the ground. I found myself crying and shaking uncontrollably, crumpled up on the floor of the women’s bathroom. A tiled floor I might add. Kind of disgusting, really.
All composure was gone, all caring about sanity (or sanitation), gone. My body felt so weak, I couldn’t get up. Grief was just pouring down on me, coursing through me, weakening my resistance, weakening every muscle. I could feel the suppressed emotions of having seen my dad in pain, and watching my husband’s last breaths. Emotions that I was only partially able to absorb at the time.
So there I was, on the bathroom floor at work, my hair stuck across my face, tangled with tears and snot. It reminded me of those few times in college when I found myself “praying to the porcelain god”. The physical need that your body has, to purge itself of the poison. At the time, nothing matters more. You don’t give a damn who sees you, and the desperate need to rid yourself of that sickening feeling completely overrides any sensibility about putting your head down a dirty dorm room toilet.
I allowed myself to melt down, as low as I needed to go. My body was exhausted. But I also felt relief. I know grief is not the enemy. It’s not a poison, like alcohol, but it is something that won’t be denied. It has to come out, and when it does, it’s gangbusters. You never know who it’s bringing along for the ride. And it hurts.
I guess sometimes I wish I could use that technique imparted to me by a college buddy, “just stick your fingers down your throat, and make it happen! Get it over with”. Rather than feeling it brewing, sickeningly climbing in my throat, then wham. slamming me out of nowhere. But I guess that’s just not how it works.