We find emotional release… well… where we find it. It’s hard to plan, this low-level letting go. This much-needed pocket of relief. And sometimes something in us feels the need to spare our friends and family, our colleagues and lovers, the unedifying experience of our unfocussed, non-specific tears. And yet we can’t quite get there – to the point of mini-relief – by ourselves. Our micro-meltdowns need to be witnessed or they are merely the sound of one-hand clapping. Sometimes we need privacy, other times we need an audience.
And so we have identified a Midult trend whereby the woman-under-pressure sees a window for emotional incontinence and goes for it. Not caring about judgement or recrimination because, not only is the chosen ‘victim’ a stranger, but they have no way out because they are already meant to be ‘helping us’.
Say hello to the Customer Service therapist. One woman whose debit card kept being refused because she was on some kind of vigilant fraud watch got hold of a human on the other end of the telephone line and really painted a tale of woe. “I know this isn’t your fault,” she began – which is always a sinister sign of things to come – “but the bank is ruining my life.” She then burst into tears about her stepchildren’s birthday presents, her missing out on concert tickets and various other middle-class crises, while the poor unfortunate on the other end of the line made sympathetic noises and no doubt resolved to get the deranged creature off the phone as soon as possible.
Another Midult had a meltdown all over a DPD representative. “I’ve been waiting for the parcel since before I was born,” she wailed. “I’m turning down work to wait for the parcel. This parcel could compromise my professional life.” And then she cried for a while. Similar tales have emerged with plumbers (naturally), insurance companies and internet providers.
And you know what? This is IDEAL. It’s better than shouting. It does no harm. You merely become another pub anecdote for a stranger. Your boss/boyfriend/shrink/buddy is spared your disintegration and you feel much, much better. It’s kind of fun to be an emotional wreck in a safe, meaningless way when, the rest of the time, you are busy being capable. Winning. Winging. Whingeing. So pick up the phone and let it all out. Just don’t say the idea came from us…