Ever Break Down In Public?

Last night I had a breakdown. In public. And out of nowhere.

Sure, this has happened to me a few times before, maybe in college while drunk at a party—but that’s when I was 18 and probably everyone else around me was already on the verge of crying anyhow or puking in the bathroom. And in the end, no one would remember the next day. But now I’m 24, a grown-up in as much as I am a working professional, live alone, and pay all my bills. So when I go out, it doesn’t seem in the cards that my much more responsible self would somehow get involved in a drunken drama.

But last night brought the waterworks. (And I wasn’t even that drunk.) I had gone out to see a friend’s band perform. Of course, I was (and still am) dealing with some difficult issues over the past week, but it’s nothing I haven’t gotten through before without tears. I started off the evening quite happy, actually, and was having a great time until, out of the blue, I was standing in the crowd, listening to the music when a thought came into my head that hit my heart so hard. A nanosecond later, my eyes teared up. When my two girlfriends spotted me, they wouldn’t let me leave the venue, but instead sat me down at a table. The second one asked me what happened. The crying was uncontrollable. And so embarrassing. People were looking at me. I couldn’t help thinking, You’re being so inappropriate. You’ve now made it your friends’ responsibility to cater to you, and you’re only being selfish and desperate by not taking this elsewhere. I knew at the time, though the breakdown felt uncontrollable, I could have physically pulled it together. Anyone can—and I’m really serious about that. Barring “the worst thing that’s ever happened to me” scenarios, you have the capability to take it outside.

Of course, in the end, everyone was very sympathetic, and made me stop apologizing. Yet I still felt as if what I’d done was wrong.

Have you ever had a breakdown in public? How do you think you should handle it? Should you be a “grown-up,” ask for help if you need it, and get yourself to a private place? Or is it within the feminist bill of rights to cry like a baby if you need to — and not care if people are watching?