Cycles of escalation

Every month, every year, I kid myself I’ve grown out of this. Every time, it comes back. Maybe less frequent, but no less intense.

It starts with a Morning. One of Those Mornings. You’ve slept through the night without waking – it might be the first time in months. A minor miracle! You should feel great. What you feel is awful.

But you’re up. You lose track of time in the shower. Coffee helps. A little.

Work through the day. Run at lunchtime. Drag your feet. Heavy. A little ball of something forms in your gut, unnoticed. An afternoon where everything resists.

Another morning. Another walk. Days pass. Those walks to work, they’re surreal: like flying; cased in a little bubble that skims the surface of the world but never quite to touch. There’s no contact with reality.

I don’t know what is important in this story. If I knew, I could stop it happening.

Too many people. Too many meetings. Tiny frustrations, building one after another after another with never the time to resolve. My mind, buzzing, overwhelmed. Angry. It feels like anger. And it’s clouding me, I can’t figure out the solutions. The moment I scream at a colleague and his eyebrows – his eyebrows, they must have hit the ceiling! – but it wasn’t that. It’s the bit where he says to the guy I’m sitting with: “help her”. And I’m sluggishly realising this is crazy, I’m acting crazy. So I make myself calm. I rein it in. If I can do that, it’s not real. It’s not a meltdown. I’m just undisciplined. I’m just emotional.

God help me I got through that day. And the next. I didn’t melt down. Right up until the minute I’m in my bosses office and I just randomly start crying. The minute I take him all the things that I know are tiny but they’re killing me and he has the answers. The minute I realise how far I’ve been bogged down in this mess of nothings and let it build up and up until my mind thinks I’m drowning, and it’s barely even real. It’s not even like I didn’t know – I knew. Intellectually, I knew. I just couldn’t defuse it emotionally. And now I’m crying at work all over again, all over, and the SHAME.

It’s the shame. Home now, looking back, I know it’s not OK to be that emotional – oh I do know. I know in the moment, but I can’t stop it. I have to be a grown up. I have to have constructive ways of using my frustration, diffusing my rage. It mustn’t come out sideways, the ranting or the tears, the exhaustion or frustration or relief – even the shame should be mine alone, but I can’t, I can’t hide it. However hard I’m trying to gain respect, to behave in a way that inspires trust, to be reliable, approachable, dependable – it doesn’t matter if they don’t know the next time I’m going to fall apart in front of them. It’s not someone you want to be working with. I’m just a child in an adult’s body. They can see it too.

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