The Highly Underrated Art of Falling Apart - Christine Kane

iStock_000001762195XSmall-1Today’s post was written by guest blogger, Emily Long. Emily is a Social Media Assistant and Time Rescuer for entrepreneurs and creative people who’d rather spend their precious time on their genius work. Emily is also a published poet and writer. Click here to find her on Twitter.

Someone said to me recently how amazed she was because I seemed to have it all together. She told me I am focused and clear about what I’m doing.


In actuality, I’m making my life up as I go and shifting directions all the time. After many years of mastering how to hold it all together, I’ve spent the last couple years learning to fall apart. (Yes, I wrote “LEARNING” to fall apart.)

What I learned is that falling apart is highly underrated.

For years falling apart meant having to face uncertainty and trusting myself to be able to handle whatever came up. I wasn’t willing to go there. So I simply refused to do it.

I clung desperately to things, relationships, places, and jobs even when I knew I needed to let them go. I stayed insanely busy to avoid thinking about how unhappy I was with much of my life. I stayed busy to avoid years of grief and tears that were buried inside waiting for me to fall apart and release them.

On the surface, I appeared successful and put together. I appeared productive and focused. I was. I was successful, put together, productive, and focused on a path that was not my soul path. Not allowing myself to fall apart was keeping me miserable.

I remember clearly the first time I really allowed myself to fall apart. It wasn’t very pretty. I got in my car one night after work and drove nearly 5 hours to the beach. I sat on the beach and sobbed. The blotchy, snot all over your face, gasping for breath kind of sobbing.

I cried for loved ones who had died through the years. I cried for the pain I’d experienced as a child. I cried for knowing that I hated where I lived. I cried for knowing that many of the relationships in my life weren’t healthy ones. I cried for knowing that I was on the wrong career path and didn’t know how to get off. I cried for everything and nothing.

Then I got back in my car and went back to the life I hated.

My hour of falling apart didn’t magically change everything for me. It simply opened up space for change to start. Most importantly, it taught me that I could fall apart and still be okay. I still practice the art of falling apart – but now I do it with a little more grace and acceptance. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way…

• Falling apart can take different forms.

Falling apart can be internal – taking down protective walls around my heart, releasing limiting beliefs, or simply letting myself cry.

Other times it’s external – quitting the profession I hated, letting go of relationships, getting rid of all the furniture and stuff I no longer liked, or moving to a new state (although, most external falling apart is really an out picturing of internal falling apart).

• Falling apart can be terrifying and messy and chaotic. Or not.

Falling apart isn’t about drama. It’s about release.

Falling apart is the release of what isn’t working in my life. It can be something big or something very simple. I’ve learned that I know more, and can handle more, than I give myself credit for. And that falling apart gets easier with practice.

• Being “in control” makes me feel safe. That’s pretty much the only benefit.

Falling apart, however, has countless benefits. It opens me up. It reconnects me with my heart and soul. It shows me the wisdom and courage I already have. It clears out all the muck I hold inside. Falling apart is healing. It allows me to grow and expand. It shows me beauty and joy and delight. It lightens me.

• Falling apart can create space for something new (and better.)

A mentor of mine talks about trusting passionately in the chaos of the process. That’s what falling apart means for me – trusting passionately in the chaos of my process. Life is all a process. Trusting in that process brings so much freedom and joy.

Trust your process. Un-tether your wings. Discover your joy. Fall apart.

  • Moon

    This really resonated with me. It made me think of the smaller and the bigger times I fell apart, and the release I felt afterwards. Holding it together at all times is overrated and damaging.

  • Mary Jo (Sam)

    YOU GO GIRL!! You can do it!! It may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end! I’ll be praying for you!!

  • Crystal

    I recently had a conversation with a good friend, I think of people as pieces of art…. I referred to myself as a piece of glass art. And through many horrible childhood experiences I started to crack, and the cracks grew bigger and ran together, and I had become a beautiful piece of crackled glass art- breathtaking but broken non-the-less. As an adult I have found myself in bad places, to everyone else- I am “holding it together”. I am a strong, intelligent, vibrant woman. Recently I think I have finally chipped to the point that I am breaking apart. And I have been fighting that tooth and nail. No more. I think I may be able to change from glass, to mosaic- pick up my pieces and bond them together stronger then they have been in a very long time. I am still that strong, vibrant, intelligent woman, but maybe now I can break and become better….

  • Anna

    Wonderful Emily! Your journey has been inspiring from the day I met you…thanks for all you have brought to my life.

  • Brenda

    At 49 years old, I have always been very proud of the fact that I have never fallen apart. People around me consider me to be a rock. My children (29, 22, & 19)have never even seen me shed a tear. To the world, I am very easy going & laid back, but I always feel like I’m on the edge. I need to reflect on these thoughts for a while, because if this is even partially true, maybe there is more to life than I know. Wow. A lot to consider here…

  • Carol

    That was beautiful, and timely. Can’t thank you enough for your eloquence and honesty.

  • Rob

    I heard about this blog by a friend and this post in particular is eyeopening. I feel I am completely a.d.d. sometimes going through life a million different directions, almost forgetting that I have the ability to do what Emily does, just releasing all the STUFF in our lives. Who gives a shit about the furniture, t.v. etc. What really matters is the relationships that we create along the way, and “falling apart” seems to keep things in perspective.

    This is my first time reading this blog and noticed not too many men posted responses, as in one, maybe two. Unless some are hiding behind female names, which would be interesting! 🙂 Thanks Emily!

  • Sarah Jayne

    All I can say is WOW and thank you for being so honest.

  • Lucy

    A folk song I ran into recently with infinite wisdom – I don’t know who the poet is, but perhaps someone will recognize this:

    When I rise, let me rise up
    Like the bird who learns to fly

    And when I fall, let me fall down
    Like the leaf, gracefully
    Without regret

  • Mary Jo (Sam)


    Thank you so much for this beautiful post! That was me several years ago, and the journey was more painful than anything I had ever experienced. I started as a child building that barrier to my inner self, so by the time I really fell apart, I was an absolute pro at faking my feelings, and needed extra help to address things and get my life back. I am just grateful that I had an excellent therapist, a supportive, patient husband, and a few close friends there with me every step of the way. I am now a very different person, and know I never could have become the real me without first falling apart. Kathleen, you said this the best. When our pieces go back together, we are more whole!

  • Kathy

    Emily – I so love how you write! I truly believe that every tear is a gift from God and it is in the falling apart that we find our true selves. Thank you for this lovely post.

  • pati

    Emily and Christine —

    Thank you. This was and is me. Today. Right now. How amazing to read this now. Thank you, Pati

  • kathleen

    Thanks Emily for this wonderful post! I think the great thing about falling apart is that when we get ourselves back together, somehow the pieces go back in a slightly different but more truthful way – it’s like we’re a puzzle that needs to be taken apart in order for the bits to be put together in more cohesively. And each time we’re put back together we move closer to our perfect wholeness.

  • Pam Hauser

    Well said, Emily.

    As someone who is a chicken farmer as well as a fellow fall-aparter, I liken the process to broken eggs. Some event breaks my eggs (usually the death of a loved one in my case) and the period of time afterward is when I’m deciding what to do with my eggs…. omelet? quiche? scrambled? deviled? salad? There are so many choices and it’s up to me to decide. I get to decide.

    Thanks for sharing this,

  • Eva

    Great post Emily. I esp like how you point out that falling apart is not about the drama, its about the release.

  • Eden

    Thank you! thank you! You’ve given me permission to be “less than”, to wallow a little, to let it out to myself! What a great post and a positive way to accept my short comings and keep on striving. Things always do look better after the storm! Trust the process! Yep, this is good 🙂

  • Faith

    Oh yeah! Some of our biggest moves forward have come right after one or the other of us fell completely to pieces. I think that’s why I like the song ‘Break’ (I think that’s the title… fourth song in…) on Christine’s new CD…

  • andrea

    Good way to put it. I fell apart twice. The first one was a practice run for the second, which “took”. My life is so much better now.

  • Jenny

    Emily, You sure hit the mark with this. Falling apart feels so terrible in the moment, at first. The result of those moments are so wonderful and are like a huge opening inside of us, which allow such wonderful things to flow into our lives.

    I had a small falling apart period about a month or two ago, and by allowing myself to fully experience it, my eyes opened up to life in a new way. I felt reconnected and full of joy.

    Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement to take care of ourselves this way.

  • robyn

    Wow, this post is wonderful. And so very true.

  • Emily

    Wow! Thanks for all the awesome comments! It’s so cool to read how others have gone through (or are going through) this process!

  • Kevin E Blake

    Beautiful post Emily. A wonderfully timed as I’m in the middle of feeling like I should fall apart but I’m being held together by the fear of what could happen, and what it would mean for those I care about and am responsible for.

    And thank you for the wonderful phrase: “trusting passionately in the chaos of the process.”

    I think I’m going to meditate on that for awhile today.

  • Deanne

    Lovely writing. Thanks

  • Elaine

    Awesome post Emily – beautifully written and it really connects with me. Thank you for sharing your journey with us 🙂

  • Natalie

    Thanks Emily for your post today. I lost my job a few days ago with no explanation given, it came out of nowhere. Maybe what I thought was my dream really wasn’t. Falling apart is what I seem to have been doing a lot of lately. I’m hoping the way ahead becomes more clear because of it.

  • Tammy Vitale

    awesome post! Lovely writing. And so true! Blogs are wonderful things: they let us know we are not alone.

  • Cheryl

    Wonderfully written… You have to fall apart to be put back together again – never quite in the same way as you were before. Better.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Marie

    WOW – this was me. This is still me in ways, though like Emily I’m “in recovery” and working through these issues, but that whole control/ignore feelings/just keep going though I’m miserable thing was, oh, the first 30-some years of my life…. Sigh. Better to recover now than never, but I wish I’d done it sooner! I can tolerate a LOT of misery (my original view of life and the world was that life was miserable and you just endured it) so it took a lot to blast me out – I’m glad that it finally happened.

    Laura – been there myself (twice). So very true. You don’t have to think about life until the degree is finished (but life is always waiting to catch you).

  • Positively Present

    Wow, I really loved this post, Emily. It’s fantastic! Thank you for writing this… It really hit home for me today.

  • Emily

    Thanks for all your great comments, everyone!

    Ahtisarp – I totally get being scared of what will happen once you release those pent up emotions. It’s different for everyone, but for me, the courage came when I realized that whatever might happen after I fell apart HAD to be better than where I was. I also realized that I’d only been imagining the horrible things that could happen – when there were just as many possible outcomes that were amazing!

  • Laura

    Thanks, Emily! Great insight. Another way to “keep from falling apart” is getting another degree— keeps you busy, broke, and focused on something that’s so socially acceptable but isn’t your true self. Been there, did it, and see so many friends in the same paradigm. Can’t wait to learn more about your geek services!

  • Missy Reed

    Wonderful post Emily – as always, you make me think, question and believe! So proud of you and so blessed to be on this journey with you!

  • sue

    Great post Emily! Love the image of you on the beach b/c it led you to where you are now. And b/c we all have our ‘beach moment’ (or need to have one!) 🙂

    Thanks Emily!

  • Glad

    I have fallen apart several times in my life. And you are right: on the other side of it lies salvation. At least for me.

    You put into words (perfectly, I might add) exactly what I have experienced.

    Thank you!!!

  • Frances

    simply said. simply wonderful.

  • Deb Owen

    This is such a great post! I remember someone saying years ago that a breakdown was really a breakthrough. I thought, “Great! Then I’m right on track!” (ha)

    Like you, letting go and letting things get a little chaotic and trusting where that leads is something I’ve come to appreciate. And I have friends who will, at times, tell me when they can see that I’m trying to keep it together and ‘make something work.’ I love them for that.

    Again, great post. Thank you.
    All the best!

  • ahtisarp

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Emily! Having read this post, I feel there is so much of pent-up emotions inside, waiting to be released. I am scared of the fact that…after the release, what next?? Guess I need to find the courage for that somehow.

  • Mindful Mimi

    This is so very true! I call it ‘surrendering without giving up’. And it is necessary. In all areas of life. Internal, external. Getting rid of clutter is part of it too for example. Clutter in the house and in the mind/life.
    Glad you shared that.