Praying to the porcelain god

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.

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4 thoughts on “Praying to the porcelain god

  1. Awww sweetie its normal ok? You’re trying to keep grief on a schedule, home and at night. Grief has its own agenda sometimes it seems. But you’re bottling it up, you have to, its a must. I really really get it. The meltdowns? Its ok. The only ones who would raise their eyebrows is a person who hasn’t gone through it. Lucky them.

    I imagine you might have been a bit embarrassed at yourself, again I’ve been there done that too. But there’s nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to grief. It is what it is. The annoying part for me was that I could clearly see the triggers and avoid them; those triggers you can’t see or anticipate, those suck big time.

    It hurts so bad you simply cannot take it all in at once, equally you can’t deal with the pain all at once nor can you let that pain go, all at once…hence those meltdowns. Again, its NORMAL! I think maybe its even healthy. Did you feel better when it was over? Cleansed a little but exhausted? If so, then maybe it was a good thing. I hated doing it at work, but couldn’t stop it once it began. Like a dam burst. When that happened I’d be surprised but I didn’t care who saw, heard me or what they thought of me; pretty much the thought(s) that were probably in your head at the time.

    You’re ok. Slam a door or two? So what?! The meltdown is a sort of purging of the poison which is really the pain. I can tell you with complete honesty..I promise those meltdowns will slow down, come a little less. But part of grief is the feelings…you have to feel it to get through it.

    Hey look at the bright side, at least you got to the ladies room before the storm really surged, right? Its not like you just sat there and sobbed and remained in the meeting. See? It could be worse. 🙂 hang in there it’ll get easier. (((hugs)))

    • Thanks for your response, so kind. I did feel better afterwards, I know it’s a part of what I need to experience and feel…but it still sucks. It makes me think of chemo, which is so incredibly grueling for people – it’s hard to say to a person suffering the side effects, “Yippee! Ride it out! You’ll feel better afterward!” knowing how shitty they feel in the present moment. Yet…if it works…it will have been worth the pain, right? I guess it’s hard feeling so “exposed”, and vulnerable to the world. Emotions that simply can’t be contained.

      • Yes its hard and yes, like chemo….it almost has to kill you to cure you. I guess its worth the pain. But does the pain have to be so excruciating all the time? The exposed aspect–to be vulnerable to the world, strangers, that is the hard part. It was for me too. But we don’t really know, maybe they’ve gone through something similar, maybe they actually understand, maybe they aren’t judging at all but are feeling compassion. These feelings that sometimes take control like an out of control speeding train is what makes us human. I wonder if society has trained us to be embarrassed by emotion, especially strong emotion. I was reading a blog the other day wherein they said we should bring back the black armband of mourning. The armband would serve as a warning to others…this person is grieving, anything might happen, be kind and don’t worry if you see tears running down their cheek or see them running down the hallway out of sight. Its something to think about isn’t it? Wearing an armband would also help those grieving….we wouldn’t be forced to explain why we’re staring out the window, tears rolling down our checks, wouldn’t have to explain the inability to breath sometimes..and so on. The black armband of mourning would say everything that needs to be said to the world without the grieving having to utter a word.

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