It happened! I broke down today. And that's all right. Of course I'm embarrassed about it, as it is instinctive of humans to experience feelings of weakness and helplessness when we have to cry and show emotions that we feel portray us as such. It's very late right now, and I should have gone to bed already. But I also know that if I don't write this out and reflect on it, I'll never be able to fall asleep.
Today we talked all about mental health and relationships and a few other things that could potentially be triggering for someone. Can you guess who?
Okay, yes, that someone is me. Thinking back through the day, there were multiple times in which I almost reached the breaking point, but was able to reel myself in. The breaking point in this case is the literal act of crying, which is often the response that my body mandates when I am confronted with a red flag or a trigger. Triggers are things that remind us of hard times in our lives, and when we see them, the survival part of our brains initiates freak-out mode. Personally, I have a few. And unfortunately I was faced with all of them today. Eventually, my body couldn't hold it in anymore, and no amount of mindful breathing could help my logical brain take back control of my physical reaction to the conversation that provoked me.
I'd like to go into deeper detail, but this is not the place to start that conversation. Regardless, I could feel the tears coming and I had to get away from this giant group of people. I didn't expect to be judged or made fun of for crying, but as I said before, my instinct told me to hide. That's not necessarily what I did though. I walked off and called my mom and dad, and I was even embarrassed for them to hear me cry over the phone. Out of nowhere this trigger had just popped up and scared the hell out of me. Not only was I upset, but I was frustrated that it had such an effect on me. I just wanted to run away. I felt discouraged. I felt ashamed of my feelings. I just knew there was no one else there who could understand what I had gone through. I felt so alone. Different and alone.
My parents comforted me over the phone, and after I cried I felt better. That's how it is for a lot of us, I think. I had been pushing back the tears all day and eventually I couldn't hide it anymore, and upon releasing them, I felt better. And then something really amazing happened.
On my way to dinner I connected with a couple of other fellows. They had seen me crying on the phone and one of them asked me what was wrong. My instinct was of course to hide. But if someone asks you "how are you feeling?" Then they can't possibly expect you to say, "I'm fine." They better be ready for the truth bomb, right? Especially here, at the launch training, less than 48 hours before we depart for countries all around the world.
So I tell her what happened. I tell her how I happened to be set off by something that was talked about in one of our activities earlier. I talk, and she listens, and she nods her head and she thanks me for being open with her. She tells me how happy she is that I was so open with her. Then she says she has to tell me something. She tells me that a very similar thing happened to her not long ago. She tells me that she has never told anyone about it before, and all of a sudden… I feel understood. All of a sudden I don't feel so alone.
It happened. I broke down today. And that's all right because we all do.