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Lessons from my 796th Emotional Breakdown (Because Apparently My Fiancé Keeps Track)

Apr 3, 2019Anxiety, Depression, Entrepreneurship, Mental Health, Recovery, Sam

Recently, I had a full on emotional breakdown.

Yes, a full on one. Not the kind that I have four times a week where life is too lifey and I just need to shed a few tears or eat a pack of raw cookie dough and take a few hours off human-ing. This went deeper. It was the get 47 new wrinkles from how scrunched up my face is while I sob on the floor, unable to move or control the amount of snot dripping from my nose kind.

The reason? My printer was out of ink.

Yep. My printer was out of ink.

Don’t misunderstand. The house wasn’t out of ink. I didn’t have to go to the store. All I had to do was unwrap a new cartridge and put it in the printer.

But–big but–it was 10:30 pm! And I was printing something for work when all I wanted to do was be in bed. I’d had a taxing day and had zero resilience reserves left.

So I dissolved. I sobbed on the floor as if everyone I’ve ever loved died on the same day.

Then Sam found me. And here, we arrive, 196 words in, to the story I really mean to tell.

Listen to what he did: he grabbed one of the 14 emergency boxes of tissues he keeps stashed around the house, sat down on the floor behind me, wrapped his arms and legs around me and squeezed. Then he didn’t say a word.

Not a single one.

He didn’t ask what was wrong. He didn’t try to fix any problems. He didn’t do anything except hold both space and me.

And hand me tissues, then snatch used ones out of my hand before I could wipe my eyes with ones I already blew my nose into. Which, obviously, is just a weird quirk he came pre-programmed with, not something he learned after years of watching me drag snot into my eyes with horror.

Eventually, I calmed down enough to speak. I told him what was going on (hint: it wasn’t actually about the printer), then ugly cried some more and repeated the cycle until the emotional turbulence passed through me. Then I expressed my gratitude for him and went to bed, sleeping the heavy sleep that follows a soul-healing cry.

Then more magic happened. The next morning, when I went into the office, my friend Lauren immediately stopped me. “What happened?” She asked with delight in her voice. “Something’s different about you today. Your whole energy has shifted. You’re way more grounded than you’ve been in a while.”

Suggestion to everyone: if you don’t have a Lauren in your life, get one.

She helped me piece together what had happened. The short version: I’d had a day that had stirred up a lot, then reaching my breaking point removed some kind of block. I woke up different and better, knowing what I had to do about something difficult in my life and feeling at peace with it.

The real magic happened when I told her about Sam. “He just sat on the floor while I cried it out and didn’t say a word!” I repeated, reaching a hand down to help her off the floor after she fell out of her chair.

“But men can’t do that!” Her face, in this moment, was priceless. “They need to fix things!”

Then she said “Go Sam” 417 times, while shaking her head in both disbelief and awe.

“You better tell him how big of a deal what he did is,” she finished. And again, I repeat: if you don’t have a Lauren in your life, get one. We all need friends who remind us to be the best and most grateful versions of ourselves.

So I told Sam what Lauren’s reaction was and expressed my gratitude again.

Because he’s Sam, his response was “Well, I only did it right on the 796th time because I did it wrong the first 795 times,” followed by more self-deprecation. But I persisted until he acknowledged that he really had done something incredible, because he deserved the recognition.

Then, the next morning, I sat down and wrote this story so that, one day, when I’m being human and forget to be as grateful for him as I want to be, I can reread this and remember how fortunate I am.

Any other woman on the planet is welcome, of course, to share this and say, “This! This is what we want! Do this!”