v-day massacre survived

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s late afternoon on v-day, my least favorite day of the year, and despite the fact that people have been delivering treats to our office area all day (good treats – homemade cake balls, truffles, petit fours, oh golly so much decadence!), despite the fact that I’ve gotten a lot done and had a fun meeting, despite the fact that I began the morning feeling nicely at peace with my singleness (a peace I don’t enjoy very consistently lately)…despite it all, I am sitting in a bathroom stall, hiding out while stupid tears slide down my face.

The voice of Reasonable Karen is giving it her best.  She points out that work is not a good time or place for a meltdown – there will be plenty of time for crying after 5.  Can’t we wait until then?  She notes that the thing that triggered this meltdown is almost certainly a misunderstanding – every possible clue points to that.  And even if it’s not that…is it really the end of the world?  After all, Karen, you enjoy an unusual amount of grace from the whole world around you.  People give you unreasonable amounts of patience.  They indulge your silliness.  They are kind much more often than necessary.  Really, you lead a charmed life.  Come on, girl, you almost never suffer the awful things so many people get said to them.  So even if it’s not a misunderstanding – and again, it almost certainly IS one – is it really worth crying in the bathroom over it? 

Meltdown Karen is having no part of reason, though.  Her tears are sliding down Reasonable Karen’s firmly set face.  No amount of choosing not to give into it will stop those damned tears from falling.  Why can’t you just be an adult here?  Reasonable Karen would like to know.  Why can’t you just stick with facts and decide not to fall apart?  And it is in this moment that the 2 Karens come into agreement:  the tears are really not about the “trigger event” at all.

The tears are about v-day, and about my long-term, no-end-in-sight single status, and about how today that status feels anything but okay.

I go for a walk around the building.  After all, I’m not going to get any work done sitting at my desk, trying not to cry and unable to think a single work-related thought.  After all, I’m free to go for a walk.  As long as I wear my badge and walk like I’m going somewhere, nobody will ever wonder what I’m doing.  Nobody will order me back to my desk.  Everything at my desk is more or less under control, much unlike everything inside of me.  I walk much of the building – all 3 floors of 3 wings of it, at least, taking the stairs in between, and stopping to make small talk with any resident or staff member who seems at all inclined to talk.  I am distracting myself, trying to stop the tumble of thoughtsandfeelings that want to shove tears down my face against my will.

It seems to be working.

My biggest fear among all of this is that someone is going to notice the evidence of my emotion-storm and ask me about it.  If I try to breathe a word aloud about the junk inside me, I’ll just have to go home, because I won’t be done crying for hours, and it’ll be those big embarrassing hiccuping sobs, and I will henceforth be known as That Crazy Lady and never respected again in the workplace.  (Histrionics are such fun.)

Somewhere in the midst of the waves of it all, multiple messages come in, confirming that Reasonable Karen was, of course, right:  the thing that triggered this whole unhappy pile of horse poop was indeed just a misunderstanding.  See?  Told you!  Meltdown Karen answers that with another wave of tears, and I’m hoping nobody is noticing how often I’m striding purposefully to the restroom, nor how long I’m staying in there every time.  Back in my office, I am sucking on hard candy, taking gulps of water, humming to the music on my computer, breathing slow and deep…anything, everything, all just trying to reel it in.  “It” is bigger than the container that is me, though, and it won’t stuff, won’t cram, won’t go quietly back inside and shut up already.

Eventually 5 PM rolls around and I get to go home, where I shut the door behind me, have a good cry, and spend the evening hanging out all by myself for hours, intentionally solitary, but eventually becoming willing to share the space with God.

As usual, He meets me right where I am.

As usual, He doesn’t waste time on recriminations.

As usual, He doesn’t talk to me like I’m crazy or stupid.

As usual, He comes bearing the gift of peace, and even helps me unclench so that I can receive it.

So when at 6:30 AM on on this day after v-day I had already cried about Meltdown Karen 2 more times since getting up, the good news was:  I wasn’t panicking.

I’m learning how to do this “feeling my feelings” business.  Learning how to stay there in the moment.  Learning how not to shove it all into oblivion with unending coping mechanisms.  Learning how to just BE when it’s quite clear I have utterly lost all control.  Learning how to wait for rescue from the Lord, and not try to manufacture it on my own.

Some learning isn’t pretty.  Much of it (most of it?) I don’t do well at all.

No matter, though…it’s worth it.  HE’s worth it.

much love of the non v-day sort,


  1. thredd says:

    you are not crazy and you are not stupid. and He loves you the Best obviously. but i love you. and He knows you Love HIm. and He knows you and everyone on this whole planet were meant to have someone to be with. i dont want these words to uhh man. there’s no way to make these words not “sting”. there.s nothing wrong with what you are feeling. becasue of all thats happened over “our life?” i was literally “immobile” in V day and i have a husband. and it has been so almost every single V day the entirety of our marriage. and this is mostly not due to him nor i. as far as “my opinion” and God is absolutely allowed to correct me. and He does. OFTEN. IN PUBLIC. or allows “the correction of me” to happen right or wrong to happen- in public whether it is “correct or not” – HENCE immobile V DAY. so lots of feelings. and then i say YAY for The Real Jesus. WHo is Not Mean. not just for you or me or my husband but for anyone who needs a True Love. +weeping+ good job and i love you love rams.

    • karen says:

      Awww Ramsie, THANK YOU for the encouragement and for “getting it” and for still being around. It always makes my day to find you in my comments section! Love you too.

  2. I read this when you linked to it in your grats the other day, and reading it again, this morning, I am again struck by your capacity to wrap words round feelings and thoughts that can BE so elusive in our moments of deepest despairing and sadness.

    I’ve often taken personally things that exist only in between my ears. And I’ve often, too often, gone on buying my own nonsense as though oblivious to its BEing nonsense.

    I don’t think this will happen that way again. Even just this way early morning, waking at 1 unable to fall back to sleep BEcause of an upset and disappointment, similar in many ways with your description of your day Tuesday, I was able to call upon parts of myself and comfort myself back to sleep, waking at 4-ish, talking out loud and continuing to whilst listening to every word. I couldn’t recount it as you’ve done, but it is no less accessible to me.

    Thank You for the courage you display in writing every day and sharing that with me. You are a gift BEyond measure.

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