when your cup overflows

Picture this:

A cup full up

To the top,

Perfect volume,

Not a drop too much.

And then you go and drop

A fucking pebble

In my little beaker.

Water spills

And puddles form.

You laughed that it

Was only one small stone,

But what was perfect

Now is just a mess.

I went to a CBT counsellor a couple of years ago. I was in a really bad place and my nerves were fraught. I went to one of my sessions, having had a really bad day. I was smiling but it was a real effort to keep up the pretence that everything was OK that day.

When I arrived at the building where my session was I had to ring the bell to get in. That day the bell was broken and I stood on the doorstep for ten minutes wondering what to do.

By the time the counsellor realised that I was downstairs and had come down to let me in I had gone into meltdown. She found me on the doorstep, sobbing and struggling to articulate what was wrong.

When she brought me up to her office and calmed me down she explained what happens in these situations with this cup analogy and I found it really helpful.

She told me that our emotions are like a cup of water. As we get more stressed the cup gets more and more full and yet we can still hold it together. Eventually it gets so full that it only takes one small thing, like a pebble, to overflow and go everywhere. On that day it was the doorbell that was my pebble causing my cup to overflow.

I had a similar thing happen today. I got an email to say that my new job couldn’t accept one of my references and I had to find another. It’s no big deal but it knocked me and I spent the whole day avoiding people and just generally going into my old patterns of behaviour.

I’ve given myself a good talking to, but it has shown me that it’s still so easy to have a small thing push me into a dark place. If you have had a pebble dropped into your cup, then I feel for you. Don’t feel ashamed and like you are overreacting. Only you know what you have been through and nobody else is allowed to judge you for crying over the fact that you’ve run out of milk.

Go easy on yourself and let yourself cry or shout or scream or go quiet. Whatever you need to do to feel better is allowed.

Much Love

Rachel xx

9 thoughts on “when your cup overflows

  1. crispina kemp

    That is excellent advice. And a wonderful analogy. And would you believe it, a friend emailed me this morning, needing someone to vent to, for that pebble had broken her beaker. I wish I had that analogy to relay to her. I was more clumsy with how I explained to her why she was freaking

  2. Greg Dennison

    Yes. This. I know this feeling. That’s kind of why I’m having such a hard reaction to this lockdown stuff. Had it happened when I was on a high, running around having fun all the time, I might see it more as a welcome opportunity to step away from some of my social commitments. But coming after 14 months of hell just as I was about to start enjoying life and having fun again, it’s been enough to push me very close to the edge.

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