When the lights and sirens went off from the inconspicuous-looking Black Ford behind me, I knew something was really wrong. I pulled over and when asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I didn’t have a clue. I thought I was alert and okay, maybe I changed a lane more swiftly than usual, but I thought I was adhering to traffic rules.
I wasn’t. I was speeding 20 miles over the limit in a school zone, switching lanes without a signal, and staying too close behind another vehicle.
Damn. How could I have not known?
Easy. My mind was foggy because I was breaking down.
It had been happening for a while. Recovering from a second C-section, facing an extra 30 pounds that made itself at home for too long, and managing three jobs (not including my roles and tasks at home, don’t get me started…) wreaked havoc, but the quiet and stealth kind of havoc that pulls the rug from underneath your feet when you least expect it. While I’ve been upping my self-care game, engaging in daily spiritual practices, and asking for what I need, I still managed to break down in ways I could not have imagined. I broke down so much that I didn’t even realize how I was dropping the ball more and more in every aspect of my life as the days went by.
Breaking down and experiencing breakdowns suck. THEY SUCK. I don’t wish it upon anyone. Yet, there’s so much richness in the suckiness. By breaking down or experiencing a breakdown caused by stress, you get to disrupt your current dysfunction, experience pain and feel your way through the wretchedness, see what you were missing out on, and try (if you choose) to make things better. As I analyze what caused my break, I acknowledge this: I am not the gold standard multitasker that I used to be in my 20’s. I am slower, more healed, more present, and more focused in my 30’s—and that’s OKAY. I don’t want to be the version of me. That Shanita is long gone.
Given my revelation and ability to learn from the discomfort, I’m asking these absurd questions:
Can you give yourself permission to break down?
Did you already break down?
AND IF YOU BREAK DOWN, what happens?
You could break down and cry (here’s my favorite Bone Thugs + Mariah song to do it to), break down your walls and let someone you know see you being vulnerable, or allow yourself to experience a breakdown that you know is already on its way. It can be letting out an ugly cry during the morning commute or throwing that diet smoothie in the trash because it won’t fill you up like a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Whatever you choose, write down your observation or tell someone, even if that someone is yourself. I promise that there are gems of wisdom hidden in that break, waiting to emerge, and waiting to teach you something that you must understand like your life depended on it.
Please let me know if you need support with figuring out what the breaking down means for you, and reach out to a professional if you think need more help. There’s no shame in breaking down–it’s what helps us get to the other side, a better side.