As hurricane season approached last month, I could feel the anxiety level rising within myself. I think all of us who have weathered the storm, so to speak, feel the stress as forecasters predict a powerful, devastating storm season. And the waiting…. Even when there is no storm, I wait. I worry while I wait to have something to worry about. Neurotic? Yes, but it seems to be a common occurrence among my coastal neighbors.
Sometimes I want to succumb to the depression I feel when I realize how intensely our lives have been affected by hurricanes. Nine storms in twelve years, I think. Some years they all seem to run together. After Katrina, I heard a psychologist on one of the news stations say that people don’t start fully experiencing Post Traumatic Stress until 18 months after an event. Well, let’s see, 1994 Allberto; 1995 Erin, Opal; 1998 George; 2001 Isadore; 2004 Ivan; 2005 Arlene, Dennis, Katrina (surge affected us). There isn’t enough time in between the storms to fully go through the PTS cycle without having another heaped on. Curious, how does this work? Do we finally get so overloaded that we no longer absorb anything else? Like a soaked sponge unable and unwilling take on anymore? I have PTS on top of PTS on top of PTS. At least, I now have a diagnosis for my whacked out feelings.
People wonder (and I am one of them), why we would be insane enough to do this over and over. I don’t know exactly. I can’t whine for too long though, I get annoyed with myself rather quickly. Also, it makes me feel like a victim. I prefer to think of myself as a survivor. And to help me survive, I have a few rituals I perform.
For a nauseating moment, let’s bring Pollyanna out of the closet. I have to do this from time to time or else I will sink into the depression that threatens.
I remember that without the storms, the Dome wouldn’t have had the instant visibility across the globe. People would be less aware of building alternatives, whether it is a dome, Eco-block, or a concrete building system.
I guess it is the desperate clinging to the idiom that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Or that ‘all things can work for the best’ —- it’s all about the perspective, seeing the flip side of the coin.
I ask myself occasionally: How am I a different person because of the repetitive storm strikes we have experienced in the 12 years we have lived in Pensacola? .
I have learned to be mostly unattached to my physical items. Sentimental items, that is different. But, losing my stuff in numerous storms taught me how quickly those things can be taken away. If I allow my identity or security to be wrapped up in them, then I am screwed. There would be nothing left of my identity by now. I won’t pretend that I just say “Oh, well, it’s just stuff.” I grieve, but I just try to stay on guard to not get stuck there. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I am not. Some days I can see the perfection in the web of life; some days I am convinced it is just a tangled mess of chaos. The days when I am elated by my ability to trust the process, magic happens.
For instance, the other day we were finally ready to have the landscaping and the pool installed. The landscapers could come out quickly, but we needed to find a bobcat to ready the lot for the pool. With a swiftness that stunned me, a bobcat appeared across the street. The operator said his job had been delayed and we were welcome to use it for the next couple of days. YEEESSSSS!!!! I love it when that happens. It’s these times that remind me I should ‘trust the process’ and it’s going to be okay – I am going to be okay.
Recently, my granddaughter pointed out a book to me and said “Grandma, you should get that book.” I trusted her intuition and placed it upon my growing stack of books. That little angel delivered some words of wisdom to me that were much needed. In the introduction of this book was the following gem:
“And no matter what we experience, we always have the free will to respond with love or with fear. …rise above your fear based emotions and learn to experience life with unconditional acceptance – without expectations, judgment, blame or the need to control others.” Dick Sutphen.
I am encouraged when things fall in place, when it seems like I am in the groove. The elation of those times is the fuel, the battery that sustains me when the storms of life pummel me.
It’s like Staind’s lyrics to FALLING
… falling is easy it’s getting back up that becomes the problem,
If you don’t believe you can find a way out, you become the problem,
And if you believe can find a way out then you’ve solved the problem
This hurricane season, I am hoping and praying that there won’t be any problems to solve. And if there are, let’s encourage each other to take it one moment at a time. Be strong for someone and when you need someone to lean on, the favor will be returned.