“Why are you sad?” Ming asked. We were pulled over by this off-roading area where people ride dirt bikes and dune buggies. But they were far away and not too loud. It was a good place to have an emotional breakdown.
“I don’t know–am I sad?” I asked. I was crying with my whole body, loudly, and hugging Ming sometimes. He was wearing his fuzzy black warmness and felt solid and comforting to hug. We were on our way home, last day of our trip. He was eating spicy Thai food we’d picked up from a restaurant in Apple Valley. “It could be many things. Yeah, a lot of things,” I said.
“Ok,” Ming said.
“Can I have a bite of your eggplant?” I asked.
“Sure!” he said, and fed a bite to me.
“That’s delicious,” I said.
I got a tissue and blew my nose. Emotional breakdown is often not about just one thing.
“I was sad because I wanted to call you something you told me ten years ago not to call you. You said it was infantilizing,” I said.
“Oh, what was it?” Ming asked.
“I don’t wanna tell you!” I said, crying more. “It’s just, I feel it inside me, and I want to call you that, but you said not to. So it’s stuck in me. I don’t have anyone to call that.”
“You can call me anything you want,” he said.
“No, I can’t call you that,” I said, hugging him as I sobbed. “But it’s inside me, but I can’t say it. I only call you that when you’re asleep.”
“You can call me anything,” he said. “I’m sorry I told you that.” Sweet pumpkin.
“Thank you,” I said, blowing my nose again. “I guess the main thing I’m crying about is my friend whose partner is having this problem, and my friend is just losing her shit. She’s sacrificed everything for him! Ev! Ree! Thing!” I realized I was yelling, but it seemed on ok thing to yell.
“I’m so tired of this,” I continued. “I am so! fucking! tired! of watching white guys who never learned how to communicate, never learned how to regulate emotions, never learned how to LIVE! So they’re ruining the lives of women I love. I can’t take it anymore! God, I hate these people! I fucking hate them!” I yelled, and I slapped my thigh.
“I wish he would die!” I raved, gesticulating and stomping around in the desert dirt. “It sounds horrible–I don’t care! I wish he would fucking die and get it over with, and get out of the life of my good friend, so she can move on and have a chance to be happy! She’s been taking care of him at her expense! For YEARS!” I yelled. “It’s bullshit! It’s beyond bullshit! This asshole never grew up! So she has to do everything for him? Really!?”
Ming was eating the veg and listening to me kindly. “I really can’t watch people hurt the women I love anymore. I am so done with this,” I said. “You know, I saw it in my own family. That’s enough. I can’t–I just can’t anymore. Fuck these people. Fuck these clueless, irresponsible, asshole, selfish people. I am done with them.”
Ming nodded. “They have a choice,” I said. “They can learn and grow up and do their own emotional labor? They’re not. They’re hurting people, because they’re too cowardly to feel and learn and communicate. And the women I love are the fucking victims of it.”
I looked at Ming’s food. Only a little sauce and stray green onions were in the to go dish. “Was it good?” I asked.
“Yes, it was very good,” he said. I’d already enjoyed my red curry and fed him the bell peppers.
We put the to go container in the backseat, climbed back into our car, and continued home.
Emotional breakdown is an appropriate part of life, one way to do radical mental health. Expressing uncomfortable truths is necessary.
Wishing a friend’s partner would die is not a usual part of my day. But at the time, it felt right. A lot had culminated, on that trip.
Maybe it was sacred rage. Glad I didn’t destroy shit or get into trouble. I expressed my truth to Ming, and now I recreated it for you. Please do with it what you will.