Meltdown is a rather apt term for what happens when all the problems of life coalesce and rise up like a tsunami, sweeping away the carefully crafted facade and barriers that allow the grieving to function in the world at large. There is no warning for a meltdown.

Bottomfeeding lows, as I call them, are felt days, and weeks even, off. The irritability and hypersensivity that evenutally give way to a distracted out of body feeling, the insomnia which is more annoying than panic-inducing, the tears that stop at the back of the throat..most of the time.

The meltdown stalks quietly on the heels of lows. It waits for that something extra. A trigger that is new, so it’s still sharp and cuts deeper than the dull blades you’ve become accustomed to.

I had a meltdown this last Friday night. I should have suspected it was coming. I had been feeling way too damn good for someone closing in on the first anniversary of her husband’s death.

Good being relative it should be understood.

I seriously doubt anyone but me would think that a week and a half of killer insomnia (not the usual barely five hours a night but the wicked head-kicking 3 or less stuff) and a near thought paralysis constitutes a good week. However, given the circumstances I was pretty happy that this was all that was wrong.

It started last Friday when I read an obituary in the paper for my friend Meg’s father-in-law. He had a stroke before Christmas and hadn’t really recovered. I knew the reason I was reading about it instead of hearing it from her was that she didn’t want to feel I needed to come to the visitation, and truthfully, I really didn’t need to, but I did need to.

Does that make sense?

It was as much to show support for people who are as near to family as you can get without making it legal and also to jump a first hurdle.

Firsts are those things that haven’t occurred since before your spouse died and vary according to the individual.

My first after Will died was Valentine’s Day. Not a terribly important holiday for us and so it passed with only mild trepidation and discomfort on my part, but it seems that the last first of the first year without him would be a visitation. It was hard but less so than if it had been someone I knew well and loved…like say my father who is quite ill with a progressively terminal illness.

It was one of the worse meltdowns I have had in a while. Since I have had two more. I am sleeping less, as impossible as that sounds.

I feel like I did the week he died. As though I might hit the floor at any moment. Worse though I am driving everyone crazy with my craziness. Almost as though I am daring them to turn their back on me.

The last thing I want. I lost my “friend” too. Pushed him too hard. But he is somewhere I can’t go right now even though I would like to. Even though I know it could never last. So, I think it is time to pull back. Retreat and hole up. Rest up.

I think there is more coming.

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