The Power of the Breakdown

Nov 03, 2011
Tagged with:

Sometimes it just hits you like a ton of stampeding elephants pouring out of your eyes and all over everything. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it; and sometimes it can be the most useful thing at the most inopportune of times.

It’s the moment where all of your efforts of stoicism and coolness fail you. At some point, the emotions that swirl inside of you have to come out, they have to be released into the atmosphere, because no one single person can hold them all in.

As a culture, we tend to pride ourselves on the seam-breaking quantities of emotions that we hold inside. We love to appear to have it all put together and to remain unmoved by the world around us. But why? Why are we afraid to show what’s in our hearts? Why are we unsure of vulnerabilities? And why do we suppose these emotions make us any less of a person?

If anything, being able to show your true emotions, no matter how uncertain or deep-reaching, is exactly what separates us from all other animals—it’s what makes us human.

This week, I found myself in my own unsolicited breakdown. It wasn’t prompted nor premeditated, and came without any warning or desire. At first I fought it as if those elephants were going to shatter the world if I were to let them loose. My jaw tightened and I gazed firmly at the ceiling creating every known possibility for keeping it all together. However, something inside of me needed to come out. Maybe it was the open arms and heart sitting next to me. Maybe it was the seams bursting from their overfilled emotion-holding. Maybe it was the gravitational pull of the moon. Regardless, it was time for me to let go and embrace the breakdown.

And when it was all said and done, the world didn’t explode, I didn’t light on fire, and I actually (dare I say) felt relieved to have done it.

My own breakdown caused me to face some of the emotions that I have been storing away and trying to forget. But, again, it’s all emotions that are responsible for the way in which we live—and I mean, truly live. It doesn’t matter if those emotions that I let out were uncomforting or undesirable, they were mine. And being able to share them with company on the couch and the light of the moon, made me feel, ironically, better.

So let it be. Break down if you need to. Do it. Let it come out of you and give you the power to face your feelings, rising above your fears and uncertainties—and become perfectly human.

Author: Ryan McLean