The sun is shining, and finally, this ridiculous season we call Spring in Nebraska is looking like it will soon be over. Thank God!
It’s been 2 months since the flood and we–ok, I have just now gotten used to the idea of putting our house back together. There are so many steps to rebuilding that it feels incredibly overwhelming to me. So after talking with our electrician, who is a FRICKING SAINT, I knew I had to march back up to the place I dread the most and get the blessings of the county so we can move forward.
Yesterday I packed up my red folder full of receipts and documents, hoping that I had everything and headed to town. I had that sick feeling deep inside, very much like I was being called in to the principal’s office and somehow I had done something very wrong and I was going to have to prostrate myself on the floor of planning office and beg for forgiveness. It reminded me of the time in ninth grade my boyfriend Robbie and I ended up on the “pot list” at North Platte Junior High. A great story for another time, but needless to say my parents were livid and I had to march into the office and plead for my innocence. Yes, every time I go to the county building it feels like that.
When I got to the parking lot I sat in my car and mulled over lipstick or lip gloss and opted for chapstick instead. Bare lips would surely not offend anyone off any more there than I already have, because my friends speaking up and questioning the system has its price. I looked around in other cars to see if I was the only one freaking out and wondered if everyone feels this way before they enter this building?? I kept reminding myself “I’ve done nothing wrong. I am an adult and Robbie lives in Alaska, I think. Just be cool and no one is gonna call my parents.” Oh, the crazy that runs through my brain, but inspectors and people judging my house at this moment are making me crazy!
By the time I went through the security check on the second floor of the county building my it felt like heart rate was 200 and I felt hot and wished I hadn’t worn a jacket. The elderly security guard who scanned my belongings was very professional, but I made him talk to me. Just a few extra seconds of idle chit chat offered a reprieve before I had to face the music. As I walked down the long corridor to the planning office I wanted to throw up, cry, and have a full-blown hissy fit, but I didn’t. I associate this hallway and this office with the worst moments of my life. I went in, spoke to the ladies in my nice voice, got the documents I needed and when I left, as predicted I felt like I had been to the principal’s office. Yep, my PTSD is alive and well and lipstick wouldn’t have made any difference.
While I was at the Planning Office I asked how the staff was doing and to let them know my concerns for the inspectors who had shown up after the flood looking exhausted and completely overwhelmed by the emotions of the homeowners they were interacting with. Secondary PTSD and compassion fatigue are real, and I have no doubt that many are or have been dealing with it since March. As far as I know, there have been no services or places offering counseling or mental health support for flood victims, or for the community interacting with the disaster, just lots of buckets and mops and paper towels. Those things are good for the first few days, but what happens now? What happens in the after? What do we do in this in between? What happens to all of these emotions?
I know I am not the only one dealing with this strange place, the after. The stress isn’t over, its just different. The desire to get back to normal is strong, but what does that even mean? How do you reconcile panic attacks every time you have to go ask for permission to bring your house back to the condition it was before the flood? What do we do with all of this emotion? Is it just collectively swirling around like dust devils stirring up chaos and making us feel crazy? I don’t have the answer, but I know that at times it feels really shitty and it has to be affecting all of us in some way.
I used to feel like I knew a lot. I had a pretty good inventory in my head of my stuff, my plans, my friends, the things that held space in my life, I thought was pretty spiritually evolved, and my life was really good. If my husband couldn’t find something, I could. It was just our way, but yesterday I wanted to make a cheesecake and I realized I didn’t have my springform pan. It may be in a tote, or it may be in the landfill. I don’t know. There is a bunch of my stuff that I am unsure about because when a bunch of people are sorting and packing or pitching your things, you have no control. You give it up and hope they make decent decisions for you, but you lose every bit of control. I have no clear inventory anymore.
I was ruminating over the fact that I had bought all of this cream cheese and had no springform pan all afternoon, and baking is my love language and I don’t want to by another pan if mine made it and its in a tote, so in true fashion when my husband got home I calmly told him about the permit situation and then proceeded to verbally lop his head off for everything else in the entire world. I took out my frustrations on the one person who gets it. He was pretty much blindsided. I was so incredibly frustrated with the extreme rules of this state, the county, the permit process, not knowing about my pan, and so much fucking cream cheese that my husband took the brunt of it all. I think our conversation ended with “I’m so glad you came home.”
I am pretty certain he was not. I was soooo bitchy to him.
Coping and not coping, that’s what this in between looks like. Little wins and tons of anxiety and frustration and being really pissed off, that’s what this in between feels like. One step forward and two steps back. Emotional dust devils. PTSD, compassion fatigue and too much cream cheese. Ugh!!!
We do have laughter and happy times too. It’s not all bad. I just don’t blog about those days enough, I will again soon. I swear.
By dinner time Ryan and I were ok, apologies accepted and I thought all was well but my body said otherwise. Barbecued ribs and easy conversation were no match for internal stress. I broke out in a cold sore and a migraine-I dislike both of those things so much!!! (Too bad you can’t rub cream cheese on your head and herpetic lesions and headaches go away.) Nature wins again.
For now, I am taking inventory of what I know for sure. Tomorrow is laundry day, so I have my zen oasis at LaundryVille to look forward to. I can always borrow a pan, I have lots of good neighbors who bake too and at this moment I can laugh about my rantings from yesterday. Wins, right??
To all of you going through it-whatever that may be–be grateful, be kind, take inventory of the good things in your life today and do something nice for someone completely out of the blue. You have no idea what they may be dealing with and your support might be exactly what they need. Be a little dust devil of good magic!