Last night it finally happened — I had my first COVID Come-apart.
And it all started with a kitchen table from Wal-Mart.
Ever since we said goodbye to our dining room table (Ma’s Star Trek table! 💜) nearly a month ago, my daughter and I have been eating every meal on the corner of my desk like a couple of modern-day Dickensian orphans. It was a sacrifice, but we knew that our new place didn’t have room for the big table and we were ready for something new, something different, something OURS.
Yesterday the blessed day arrived when the UPS driver rang the doorbell and left the 7,000 pound package at our new front door.
The table is here!!! The table is here!!! We had already picked out what was to be our inaugural meal - burgers and steamed veggies. Now all we needed to do was to assemble it.
Cue the ominous soundtrack.
The two 5-foot-nearly-nothin’ Rose Women somehow found a way to get the cardboard beast inside the house. The elder Rose spent a half-hour (after an exhausting day at work) opening all of the boxes and bags within The Box and carefully organized every last leg, washer, and screw for easy installation. Surveying the vast landscape of lettered legs and hardware spread out on a towel on the floor of our precious new yoga room, I confidently declared, “We are gonna DO THIS!!!” to my daughter’s worried countenance.
I got my essentials ready: the power screwdriver, my Jason Mraz playlist, and a glass of Malbec.
Long story short, it was a disaster. Nothing worked like the hieroglyphic “instructions” said they would. The screws simply wouldn’t go in. We tried every imaginable position to get those @&$king screws into those @&$king stool legs and it just wasn’t gonna happen.
I was getting sweatier, more frustrated, and more tired with every failed screwing. (Sounds like one of my pre-COVID Brandon dates.)
Emma could tell that I was losing it and gently suggested that we just hire some handydude to come over and put it together. “I know you were excited to have our new table tonight, but we can eat at your desk another day or two”, she sweetly said.
“NO!!! We can do this ourselves!” I barked back, temporarily choking back the inevitable wave of tears. After only a few more vain attempts at being a Black & Decker Helen Reddy, I finally broke. The tears started coming.
And they didn’t stop.
I couldn’t catch my breath. My legs got wobbly. My head started spinning and my heart pounding out of my chest. I was going down.
This wasn’t my first panic attack. But it was the first one since this whole pandemic/social isolation/move started. I have (mostly) been a beacon of strength over the last several weeks, tapping into the deepest reserves of my inherent Kayleneism. I could often hear her words ringing in my heart: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
But this was bigger than me. When I fell face-first into my failure with this dumbass table, I also ran into my fears.
My emotional Come-apart (as Ma used to refer to them as) was about soooooo much more than assembling a table.
It was about desperately wanting to separate my work space from my personal space.
It was about wanting to be done with this move once and for all.
It was about hating to rely upon anyone (like a big strong man) to provide for our little family.
It was about wishing I had the financial resources to buy a snazzy table from Room & Board instead of settling for a crappy DIY POS from Wal-Mart.
It was about having my one sacred space that we had created in our new home get besmirched with this travesty of cheap wood, styrofoam, and sadness.
It was about having a stranger in our home who may infect us with a deadly bug.
It was about missing my mom and her Star Trek table.
It was about me throwing my hands up and having to say the words I never ever ever EVER want to say, “Enough. I can’t do this.”
In the midst of the panic attack, I went outside to our cute new patio to get some gulps of air. Tears still uncontrollably streaming down my face, I asked Emma to get me some food, anything. Just food.
She gave me a bowl of her Lucky Charms and a cheese stick.
After inhaling the kidfare, I had enough strength to slow my breath, find my legs, and clear my head. Next step? Call Jean.
I reached out to my bestie yet again for support. I didn’t even have to tell her; she could see that the Come-apart was in full swing. In classic Jean fashion, she calmly talked me through what was REALLY going on and surrounded me with love and support. She suggested that this was just pent-up energy coming out and the table was the release valve. She told me that it was good for me to clear away the “oosh” as she calls it. And she reminded me that I don’t change my own oil in my car either, and that doesn’t make me less of a badass.
After hearing her calming words and feeling her love, I eventually came back to me. Emma Rose rose to the occasion by helping me to temporarily relocate The Project That Shall Not Be Named, coordinating a suitable wielder of tools to fix this nightmare today, and lovingly leaving me with a sweet text, “Let me know how else I can support you.”
That’s a great kid right there.
I’m sorry Em saw her mom lose her shit, but it happens sometimes. I saw my mom lose hers on more than one occasion and it doesn’t change the fact that she was an amazing mother who taught me so much about strength, resilience, and tenacity. We can be powerful role models and still have Calgon Take Me Away moments.
We are all human. We have good days and bad ones. Victories and failures. Rock star moments and Come-aparts. The goal isn’t to be perfect; it is to bounce back from the darkness as quickly as possible.
And sometimes that requires Lucky Charms, cheese sticks, and reaching out to others.