Posted on 20 April 2010

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine had a major meltdown, in more ways than one.  Retired early from Corporate America, she now performs a non-paid labor of love, facilitating groups nationwide via a global human service organization.  Priding herself on perfection, my friend also has a large house, which she keeps spotless, two dogs whose paws she wipes clean after every outdoor foray (seriously), and a self-employed husband whose construction business is tanking in this economy.

Along with everything else on her plate, she takes in human strays — not literally, but with as much emotionally and financial support as she can muster in these tough times.  Although these ingrates usually wind up kicking her in her can, she continues on undaunted with her altruistic crusades.  Her perspective is that God loves everyone, so how can she do any less?  After a friendship spanning more years than I’ll admit to in print, I still can’t figure out if the woman I’ll call Dara is too good for this earth or just plain thick-headed.  Whatever she is, she has a heart of gold and I love her dearly.  And yesterday, she imploded.

With the phones ringing off the wall simultaneous with her doorbell chiming, emails pouring in like government bailouts to the robber baron bastards, the washing machine and dryer both chugging along at once, and the iron plugged in to tackle a load, Dara slipped something resembling a double Frisbee in the micro and let it rip.  Enclosing a gel, the thing serves as a long-acting heating pad for her two puppies, who love to be warm.  But instead of reheating the thing for the maximum 6 minutes and 30 seconds, my friend, in her distracted state, set the oven for 60 minutes and 30 seconds.

Twelve minutes later, it occurred to her that the micro had been spinning for far too long.  To her horror, the timer on the oven confirmed her fears.  The minute she opened the oven, she was hit with a hot, rancid blast that left her literally staggering, gagging, and wiping her streaming eyes.  The thing had exploded!  Looking like a fallen soufflé and stinking of something concocted in hell, it had oozed its putrid gel all over and beneath the oven.

Immediately, she shooed the dogs from the room and called Poison Control, which was no help.  The product claimed to be environmentally friendly: safe for humans and pets.  However, the rep could not state whether or not that safety applied to improper use of the Frisbee-thingies.

Dara ran from the house with the still-steaming mess as if it was nuclear waste.  Throwing open all the doors and windows, scrubbing the micro down with steel wool and antibacterial soap, and spraying the house with a natural citrus spray, she realized it was an exercise in futility.  The micro would forever reek of that Satanic odor.  And the thought that the thing wasn’t safe nagged at her.

She dashed to a major retailer and dropped $100 on a new, ugly microwave, just because it was in stock and she was desperate.  That hundred bucks had been slated for a utility that had threatened to cut off service if the pre-arranged payment was not received in time. Dara plopped herself at the kitchen table, had a meltdown, and called me.  Beating herself up for not being perfect, for not being able to juggle, all at once, a needy, non-stop client base, the dogs, the husband, and all of the household chores, she wailed,   “How could I have done something so stupid?”

I told her to hang up and take a ride out to a park not far from her home. I told her to sit under a shady tree for a while, contemplating the grass, the flowers, the small woodland animals that would cross her path.  I told her to be aware of the scent of flowering trees on the air, the breeze on her skin, and the sun in the sky.  I advised her not to exchange a single word with a single human, however needy they might appear to be.  She thought I was nuts, but agreed to my insanity because I was adamant and because, in our long friendship, I am one of a handful of people she knows she can trust.

A few hours later, Dara called to thank me.  A bit of time away from her self-created loony bin had calmed and strengthened her.  She said, “I realized that if the worst thing I did all day was to blow up the micro, I’m doing well.”  Indeed!

We all have these “I want to jump out of a window” days.  And while we all have them, some of us, like my sweet friend, contribute to them.  We take on too much.  We want to save everyone and everything.  We want to save the planet.  Suffering from self-created insanities, we do too much because, somewhere along the line, we were conditioned to be perfect: to grin and bear it and then bear some more, and more, and more.  Hey, even Atlas shrugged (just ask Ayn Rand).

If you are among those like my friend Dara, please, do yourself a favor: be kind to yourself.  Realize that you don’t have to be everyone’s rock.  Know that you are only human and are entitled to make mistakes.  Understand that while God loves us all, we are not beholden to give our hearts, souls, and wallets to every emotionally needy Tom, Dick, and Harriet who may cross our paths.

Most of all, realize that you’re entitled to some happiness.  Then, take that happiness wherever and how often you can grab it.  It can be something as simple as treating yourself to a pedicure, a lunch out with the girls, a guilty movie you see alone, stuffing popcorn into your face into a darkened theater, a stroll in the park unencumbered by another human, or a bubble bath in a candle-lit bathroom.  Hide away among the shelves in a bookstore, sample music you’ve yet to hear, or ponder the paintings in a museum.   For a few hours, let the doorbell, the phones, and the emails go unanswered (it’s so liberating)!  Giggle at the thought of all those who want a piece of you and who can’t have it, for once, because you’ve chosen to take care of yourself for a change.

You’re too important not to.  Don’t have a meltdown just because you’re not perfect.  Cherish yourself.   After all, there is only one of you. 

This post was written by:

- who has written 225 posts on Write On New Jersey.

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5 Responses to “Meltdown!”

  1. Sammy K. says:

    Maybe we should put your friend on the front lines. She seems to be gifted in making weapons out of harmless every day objects. Just kidding; you gave her good advice.

  2. Kali Knudsuig says:

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  3. Ajithkumar Chandramouli says:

    A really good piece of article. Also I wish to quote a few lines from this article in my news site, I will give a link back to this article. Again.. it is really a good work.



  4. UA says:

    Wow… interesting information.

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