The Meep Meltdown

By Alison July 10, 2024 6 Comments 8 Min Read

I’m afraid to say that, despite appearances, I am not all sweetness and light. In fact this here post comes by way of an apology to my ever patient child because yesterday I had a meltdown of such epic proportions that it is a wonder he didn’t take it in to his head to slap me back to my senses. For while I rarely truly lose my mind (maybe once in a very blue moon), when it does happen, only a short, sharp slap or an icy bucket of water can quite do the job of reigning my absolute demented strife in, for once meltdown strikes there is simply no talking to me. I am a screechy, unreasonable hot mess, and woe betide should you find yourself in my way.

Soo… Finley is something of a daytime bed dweller, and yesterday I took it into my head to wake him at two in the afternoon, bribing him out of his pit with the promises of sausages and tea, and my sleepy boy mumbled, soon, and I kissed his clammy little brow, and said, ok, but when you get up, please make sure you close your window so Meep doesn’t take it into his head to climb on to the laundry roof and make his escape, and the child muttered, soon, and I took that to be an, Ok, yes indeed Mum, and went downstairs to chuck more sausages into the air-fryer.

You heard me though, right? You heard me say, shut your window little Finster, didn’t you? So you might imagine that soon would arrive and said Finster would amble down the stairs, having shut the window to ensure the safety of his beloved pussy-cat, and all would be well, but you would indeed be quite wrong, for Finley is a rule to himself and I do believe that the things I say go in one ear and dribble out the other and it is entirely possible that I only think I’m issuing reasonable instruction, when in actual fact the words stay right there in my head, and he hears nothing but sausages, and goes about his day utterly oblivious to the earnest wishes of his Mother.

So we ate sausages and I put too much salt on mine and quietly excused myself to unexpectedly vomit, for excessive salt and I are not friends, and Finn and I laughed at Meep, who worships all of mankind and is quite indifferent to the female of the species, so butts his little head on Finns at every opportunity, while I sat in something of a fevered frenzy browsing houses to rent, because I am a woman in dire need of a house to rent, and Finn told me what he thought of Ben after meeting him for the first time at the weekend (Verdict: he’s “a great bunch of lads”, the girls Finn was out with took rather a fancy to Ben’s blue eyes and he and I are so similar that everything that came out of Ben’s mouth could have come out of mine) and before we knew it a couple of hours had passed and it struck me that Meep had vanished, which is frankly unheard of because Meep is a cat who likes to keep a close eye on things in case we decide to do things he doesn’t approve of, and I, in an unreasonable instant, completely and utterly lost my marbles because Finn’s bedroom window was wide open and what part of SHUT YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW didn’t he understand??

For the cat was NOWHERE to be found. Not in a single one of his silent, pouncing spots, though I ran around turning the house upside down and screeching at Finn, who assured me the cat would be in the house and not DEAD UNDER THE WHEELS OF A LORRY like I was insisting he would be. And in my head the situation escalated to such a degree that I got to believing Meep was already brown bread and that Finn would forever suffer from the kind of guilt that would destroy his life and I was so angry that his ADHD driven chaos was about to consume him with shame and guilt for the rest of his always, that I decided that he was not only to blame for EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN THIS LIFE but that I could only conduct a search for a missing cat if he left the house, so promptly insisted that he get in the car so I could drive him back to his uni house and nothing made sense and there was no reasoning with me, because Meep wasn’t where he should be, and Finley would blame himself and I couldn’t bear that for him and thus the only way for me to cope was to clear the decks of people with opinions of their own, and get on with restoring order by myself.

And so I shoved my poor bewildered child out of the car, an all grown-up boy I worship, and I drove home red with sorrow and rage for the life he was now going to lead because Meep was dead and the window was open and hells bells who really wants to destroy their own life, and I ignored the bleep of my phone as Finn text me with instructions for the search, and sorrys and calm downs, and I sat in the car and had a little cry for all that was lost, and then went into the back garden to traipse around the wilderness shaking Meep’s treat tin and he was nowhere and I really didn’t want to go and introduce myself to the new neighbours looking both irresponsible and deranged, so I went back into the house to drown my sorrows in bitter lemon and report my failure to create something to eat for Ben who was on his way, when lo and behold I looked down and there was the cause of all the trouble languidly stretching on the ugly rug and suddenly all was well and I was wicked and I was crying again and phoning my baby to say a million sorrys and seriously in need of a cup of tea with eight sugars or a tot of whisky to restore domestic law and order.

Heck. Sometimes we only realise how stressed we are about the BIG things when something LITTLE is sent to try us, don’t we? I have this overwhelming sense that my life is spiralling in a million different directions and I can’t quite get a grip of who or why I am, so I am angsty and emotional and funny when I’m trying to be serious, and serious when I think I’m being funny. Or as a line in A Woman’s Guide To Adultery so memorably declared, I am always joking. Only all my jokes are serious. And I expect everyone else to understand. And not rise to my drama, my baiting, needling or anxiety while I am discombobulated, trying to make sense of necessary change and not drown in the worry of it all along the way.

In the aftermath of MeepGate, I had a long shower in the rather blissful rose shower oil I save for special occasions, (mostly because It comes in a glass bottle and I worry it might slip out of my shampooey hands and smash my feet to shreds), and then blew the hairdryer up. so that by the time Ben arrived carrying food for us, I was a wet-haired, rose-scented angsty mess, and somehow managed to stay that way all evening, weeping over something a little bit wonderful and making of the ingredients he brought in, a slightly odd hash of baby potatoes, eggs and bacon, drowned in mustardy yoghurt, until this gorgeous man agreed that a change of scenery was in order and before I knew it we were on a late night adventure, sipping banana milkshake as we drove down the coast road, putting our worlds to rights, while I issued slip-shod directions in the dark and put my foot in my mouth over and over again and he, who has the endless patience of a terribly handsome saint, tolerated my self-absorbed rambling and oblivious over-sharing (Moi? Over-sharing?! Never!) and soothed me with his daft wisdom and deeply Northern twang and we laughed till we almost cried and he remained non-plussed by my repertoire of this duck walks in to a bar jokes, and I remembered all over again why this relationship feels so very different, and why day by day it comes to matter more, despite the kind of challenges truly sent to try us. Because hell’s bells we are definitely trying each other in the midst of waves of neurodiverse vulnerability we take turns indulging in while lying next to each other feeling spooked out of our wits by the intensity intrinsic to being with somebody so like ourselves.

Change is coming. And if you know me, you know change (like salt) is not my friend, because I am prone to both catastrophe and catastrophising. So an open window = cat under the wheels of a lorry and a landlady looking to sell her house = me homeless in a tent on a roundabout. And of course it is all nonsense, and all shall be well on way or another and if I actually stopped to examine my own history I would see that for each change I have dreaded there has been an outcome I have come to celebrate, enjoy or thrive within. That change almost all ways equals opportunity and a shift in mindset probably always long overdue.

So ummm, yes: Meep is alive and kicking and my son has forgiven me and tells me he loves me regardless though I really must learn to manage a crisis better than I do. Hmmm. what else? Well I am in an absolute frenzy of tidying because the landlady will wander up the lane to see me tomorrow afternoon, PT Joe SHOUTED at me this morning for misdemeanours of the macro-counting kind and in an unexpected turn of events I have taken up wearing dresses and treated myself to a pair of red patent Mary-Janes that make my feet smile and honestly I hardly know myself, but I do know that in the midst of a melee of meltdowns and milkshakes, worry and diddy drama, what I feel is a sort of quiet happy that offers permission and encouragement to change and that feels a teeny bit precious.

I may not be all sweetness and light, because it turns out happy is more complicated than that. Happy sometimes wears a worried frown, over-shares or screeches at her most beloved. Happy is a cat playing hide and seek, red shoes and milkshake by the sea-side at midnight. Happy is knowing that whatever happens tomorrow, everything will be ok.

6 Comments

  1. Paula says:

    My family is worrying me at the moment. My son is in his second month of holiday after his finals. From August he needs to start applying for jobs and the thought fills me with horror as I know perfectly well that I will have to find said jobs and that his neurotypical father will neither help nor understand why this is so hard.
    Nathan retired at the end of June but feels as though he is just on holiday. His days are filled with online gaming and/or watching television.
    I’m tired, depressed and over a stone overweight. Next week we start two different diets and I have not even begun to plan mine.

    1. Alison says:

      Oh Paula… these transitions are so hard aren’t they? In the end you simply have to do what you need to do for you and for your boy and let Nathan find a rhythm of his own in what will feel like a whole new life to him. Look after you, first and foremost.x

  2. Jane Paulson says:

    Alison, Alison, Alison! You make me laugh when I can’t decide whether I should be crying for you! I’m so sorry you have got to move again: I know how much home means and it must be exhausting but I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that you find somewhere you love.
    And Honey, Ben sounds just right – a great bunch of lads indeed – Finn has been funny since he was two hasn’t he? So fingers crossed on that score too, you deserve happy. If anyone does, you do. I hope he knows how special you are.

  3. Molly Bellingham says:

    Hello, I have just discovered you on your Substack and I am ready to take a deep dive in to twenty years of posts like this one especially as I am currently being diagnosed with Autism and I totally relate! This post describes how irrational I can be when I am worried, or scared and I also relate to the struggles and fun you and Ben are having because I know how complicated dual neurodivergent relationships are and how strange and beautiful they can be.

  4. Jacqui says:

    Midnight milkshakes! There are men in this world who know what women really want after all! The small pleasures you have been teaching us for years.

    And Finley knows how much you love him. We all do. Grasp happy with both hands now. It’s your time.

  5. Helen R says:

    Golly you are good. To understand the WHY of a meltdown like this is complex but you know yourself inside and out and it encourages us all to examine what feels like extreme reaction for the root cause – in your case, not that the cat might be gone, but that Fin might blame himself and you couldn’t bear that for him.

    Meltdowns feel irrational. Might even look irrational. But they aren’t and you are doing such a good job of explaining the whys and therefores of neurodivergence lately.
    I for one thank you.

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