meltdown . . .

"madder than a wet hen!" (photo by M. Steverson)

“madder than a wet hen!” (photo by M. Steverson)

Are you old enough to remember the movie, “Network” directed by Sidney Lumet in 1976? There is a famous scene in it where the character played by Peter Finch yells out the window that “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” LOL! That phrase exemplifies to me the quintessential adult meltdown moment. After all, we can’t really throw ourselves down on the floor like two-year old toddlers, kick and scream and throw toys around when we have just ab-so-lute-ly HAD IT!!!

How do I know? Because I just had a major meltdown myself a few days ago. Part of the context for how major it was, was that I had been harboring anxieties about my health which I had not mentioned to anyone while imagining alone all kinds of fearful things. This had been going on for a few months, making me ask myself why in the hell I was spending the “time I have left” the way that I was. It was also similar to Jennifer Lawrence’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook” where she yells at Bradley Cooper’s character saying, “Everyday I do things for other people all the time and then I wake up feeling EMPTY!!”

Okay. So here are some components of my major meltdown:
~ offering to help others but being rebuffed before it can even be discussed
~ feeling taken for granted.
~ other people’s agendas and priorities eating up my life rather than pursuing what is more important to me.
~ feeling taken advantage of, either due to thoughtlessness or neglect.

Dare I say that more women feel like this than men, most of the time? And that we do little about it but to shrug our shoulders and say, that’s just the way things are? I usually do that too, but the other day, a little thing happened that blew me away. I was surprised myself that I was so mad. And like some multi-layered fireworks that explode in the sky in burst after colorful burst, my meltdown anger did the same thing. It just went “poom!” “poom!” de “poom” “poom”! It felt really good actually when all those “pooms” were released out of my system.

Then I went to the doctor and things were not as bad as I thought. In fact the condition was not cancer after all but something pretty normal for someone my age. What a relief! In the meantime, though, I have basically redrawn my sense of purpose about what to do and how I really want to live. One of the things I have reinforced myself about is not to be so naive about other people, and to do what I want to, rather than (fill in the blanks.) I also found that since my usual defense mechanisms were shot to kingdom come, that I am more willing to speak my mind without being so deferential to everybody else’s agendas.

So, what do I think about meltdowns? I think they clear things away, like a visceral nuclear blast, for better or for worse. What was before is changed somewhat or a lot. Pent-up frustrations are released, or at least some of them. Are we like children, who soon return to the status quo, not really remembering the meltdown they just had a day or so ago? I don’t know, do you?

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As an afterthought, I thought I’d include this footnote about the origin of the term, “madder than a wet hen.”
“In the old south, after a hen laid her eggs she would want to sit on them until they hatch. Even if you gathered up all her eggs, she would still sit on the empty nest. So in order to “break her” and get her to lay more eggs, the farmer would lift her off the nest and dunk her in water. She’d then go right back to her nest, so this had to be done two or three times, after which she’d be mad as hell and start “fussing and scrambling about” Apparently this “broke her” and she’d start laying eggs again.” How do you like them apples?